Conor Doyle at RBNY 2013

D.C. United looks to gain momentum heading towards Open Cup Final

WASHINGTON – As D.C. United’s players head west to Los Angeles in preparation for Sunday’s match against Chivas USA, Ben’s Olsen’s club will have a great opportunity to accomplish something they haven’t yet this season: win a league match on the road.

And their opponent, the Western Conference’s worst team, likely will provide United with their best shot to notch that first road victory of their four remaining matches away from RFK Stadium.

“We need it,” Olsen said Thursday of his club getting a road win. “With wins comes a belief that you can win. That part has been missing, which is the case with Chivas, which is the case with Toronto. They’re not out of games, it just comes down to sometimes a little bit of belief and we’ve got to find that.”

Olsen said despite his team’s four-match winless slide and league-worst 3-18-5 record that the previous month has been telling. As players return to health – Chris Pontius has been training in full this week after missing the last seven matches – it enables Olsen and his staff to better evaluate performances in training sessions.

“Training sessions are elevated. I’ve really enjoyed the last month and a half of who we are,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re just now beginning to have our identity of who we are and what we’re about. But better late than never.”

D.C. will be without Dwayne De Rosario, Kyle Porter and Dejan Jakovic against Chivas, who all are on Canadian national team duty, but that simply will allow Olsen to further evaluate his players in preparation for October’s U.S. Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake as well as next season.

“It’s no secret that this is a period of evaluation for all of us. Staff and players alike,” Olsen said. “And I think they’re starting to understand that and that has added to the competition aspect and it’s been healthy. For some unhealthy results, it’s been a pretty healthy atmosphere the last month or two.”

With Chivas sitting on five wins but having earned four points in their previous three matches, United – who have scored three goals in their last four matches – certainly will be tested in hopes of securing a result.

“We talked about it earlier [this week]. This is a winnable game for us,” Pontius said. “I think every game we go into we have the mindset of winning, but especially this game here and then coming back home, hopefully we can be on a nice little run lea