D.C. United Notes: Olsen rues possession struggles, young Brazilians coming along and more

Olsen (Getty)

By THOMAS FLOYD

WASHINGTON — D.C. United have work to do in the possession department. That much, if nothing else, was abundantly clear during their scoreless draw Saturday at Red Bull Arena.

As New York wore United down by moving the ball with ease, the visitors struggled to cope with the pressure, failing to build while lazy long balls and cheap giveaways becoming all too common.

“The old cycle hits where you defend, you win the ball finally, and nobody moves for each other because you’re exhausted from defending,” coach Ben Olsen said Monday. “It’s a vicious cycle, and it gets worse and worse as the game goes on. … But it’s completely fixable.”

Olsen noted an improved build is in the nuances, saying “2 or 3 yards of work” can make all the difference when it comes to players making themselves available for passes.

But United can take solace in knowing goalkeeper Bill Hamid, named the MLS Player of the Week on Monday for his performance against the Red Bulls, is capable of stealing some points for the team — even if he’d rather not have to.

“I don’t want to make those saves,” Hamid said. “You want it to be a complete team performance and they’re not having that many chances. But when I’m called upon, I’m going to do my job and be there for my teammates.”

Here are some more notes from United training:

OLSEN TALKS BOYS FROM BRAZIL

Olsen on Saturday scratched 20-year-old Brazilian striker Rafael, a pricey offseason acquisition, from the game-day roster in favor of compatriot Raphael Augusto, an attacking midfielder who struggled with knee tendinitis throughout preseason.

“I wouldn’t look too into it,” Olsen said. “It was more just positional need. You go through scenarios — ‘What if this happens?’ — and we thought the odds were that we might need the midfield Rafa over the forward Rafa if we got in trouble.”

Furthermore, Olsen said “it’s a taking a little bit of time” for Rafael to adjust. But he added he still sees “the qualities there that I think fit this league.”

Augusto, on the other hand, has impressed Olsen, though the playmaker on loan from Fluminense since last summer still has made just one appearance: a stint as a substitute in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final against Houston in November.

“He has unbelievable technical qualities, better than I’ve ever seen, better than I’ve ever played with and better than anything I’ve ever coached,” Olsen said. “But there’s a lot more to being successful other than being just a wonderful technical player. We’re evaluating how he fits our group. So that’s my job, and we’ll see how that goes going forward.”

SANCHEZ, RUIZ LEAVE STRONG IMPRESSIONS

Midfielder Marcos Sanchez and forward Carlos Ruiz earned the praise of Olsen after aiding United’s possession game during the second half of the draw at New York.

Sanchez, who will miss United’s game Saturday versus the Columbus Crew while with the Panama national team, came on for the final 14 minutes in place of playmaker Dwayne De Rosario.

“Sanchez kept the ball three or four times, just simple one-touch passing to the next guy, under pressure,” Olsen said. “And those add up over 90 minutes.”

Ruiz, on the other hand, spelled striker Lionard Pajoy for 19 minutes, providing what Olsen said was useful hold-up play as United tried to relieve the pressure.

“Ruiz made a couple plays where it looks so easy,” Olsen said. “Checking, gets the ball off his feet, back and release pressure, and then we go out the other way. He did it a couple times.”

WOOLARD SIGNS NEW DEAL

United on Monday announced they had extended the contract of defender Daniel Woolard. The journeyman, who started 26 matches in 2011 and 20 games last year before being sidelined by a concussion, has appeared in one contest thus far this season.

A left back who also provides cover centrally, Woolard figures to compete with third-year player Ethan White for the opportunity to replace center back Dejan Jakovic (Canada national team duty) against the Crew.

“Daniel has been one of our most consistent defenders over the past two years,” general manager Dave Kasper said. “His versatility and experience helps to make our group of defenders among the best in MLS.”

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26 Responses to D.C. United Notes: Olsen rues possession struggles, young Brazilians coming along and more

  1. daggius says:

    need some points out of pajoy for my fatnasy tteam. hope he not gettin benched for ruiz

    • JAY NT says:

      dont hold your breath man (on both counts)

      it will be a while before he’s benched OR scores again

    • wilyboy says:

      Get rid of him, now. Are you crazy?

    • RK says:

      Is this a DCU-only fantasy league?

    • Josh D says:

      Pajoy is a worthless defensive striker who can’t keep possession or score. Which means our wide players again need to take the brunt of the offense, which thus far hasn’t happened. Sanchez is the only bright spot attack-wise so far. He has come on and made a difference each time. I’d like to see Pajoy benched for Ruiz and DeLeon benched for Sanchez.

      • Mwing09 says:

        “DeLeon benched for Sanchez”….Yes, Sanchez has been a bright spot…but youve gotta be joking, right? No, the team hasnt looked great so far this season. But I’d hold off on benching one of the best field players after only 3 games.

        • Josh D says:

          DeLeon hasn’t done well in his previous three games, we need to mix it up. I’m not saying bench him for the rest of the season, but Sanchez has earned the right to start while DeLeon gets back to his best. We can’t play every game with the same wingers, and Pontius just offers more than Nick.

    • Jake says:

      Why have Pajoy on your fantasy team when you can enjoy Pajoy on your real team as a DCU fan. Watching him is FANtastic.

  2. DC DP Bust says:

    Rafael is “adjusting” eh? Remember when Salihi was adjusting, and, how United were “very lucky to have him”?

    Rafael is Salihi 2.0.

    • Tyler says:

      Spot on. Ives said on the most recent episode of the podcast that the word on the street is that Rafael has been extremely mediocre in training. Dah well, at least he’s only on loan. Back to Bahia he’ll go…

    • Josh D says:

      Rafael was a HORRIBLE transfer. Sorry, we don’t have the squad depth to take on a project, that was even a project in his home country. At least with the likes of Montero, he was already a star in the Colombian leagues.

      Quite honestly, I don’t trust Olsen’s attacking sense. He values hardworkers (Pajoy) over goal scorers (Salihi). There has to be a trade-off: You either get a defensive forward or you get a proper striker who saves his breath to make smart runs.

      Now, our already our weak offense just got weaker. We were promised a DP-level signing and got someone who DC admits isn’t ready to play and Ruiz, who’s good for 20 minutes and a few dives. You have to imagine DC, again, got desperate and picked up Rafael then realized they needed another striker who could actually play and by luck and through desperation, Ruiz became available and was grabbed. He just isn’t an Olsen signing on a normal day.

      • fischy says:

        “A defensive forward” ought to be an oxymoron never heard in soccer circles.

        As for Rafael, the fact that we’re not seeing him is a bit troubling. On the other hand, he did OK against the Terps. Maybe, there is something to this “adjustment” stuff…and maybe we’ll see him yet. If we don’t, then he will be the worst signing yet.

  3. dan says:

    I think he needs to give some respect to New York for dominating possession too, if they could only finish they would be dominating this league if they can play like that every week

    • Josh D says:

      NY has played well, but by acknowledging their success, we are ignoring our own weaknesses. Our two DMs (Kitchen and Saragossa) cannot keep possession. It seemed last game, Kitchen was given the freedom to roam as he ended up out wide, in attacking positions at times. But he’s not offensive, albeit his passing has approved greatly.

      DeRo just absolutely disappeared. Whether it’s getting out the rust or just having an off game, he played terribly. If we have any hope of a playoff season, he has to find his 2012 form. DeRo is the player which the ball goes through during each of our attacks. When our DMs can’t find him, nothing gets created and possession gets lost.

      Then sadly, we don’t have any central players on our bench worth putting on so plan B is just a like-for-like substitution. But these fears are nothing new for us fans.

    • JoeW says:

      But he has. In post-game comments, Olsen said that the team stole a point–isn’t that saying that NYRB was the better team? Nor did I hear any whining about refs or fouls or luck. Olsen was pretty upfront about it, saying NYRB was the better team.

  4. fischy says:

    Two points I think worth making about what Olsen has said:

    — “Sanchez kept the ball three or four times, just simple one-touch passing to the next guy, under pressure,” Olsen said. “And those add up over 90 minutes.” —–

    Well, then maybe you ought to find a way to play him 90 minutes, instead of just 20-30 minutes? He changed the game on Saturday. Would have been nice to play that way for 90 minutes.

    —“He has unbelievable technical qualities, better than I’ve ever seen, better than I’ve ever played with and better than anything I’ve ever coached,” Olsen said. “But there’s a lot more to being successful other than being just a wonderful technical player. We’re evaluating how he fits our group. So that’s my job, and we’ll see how that goes going forward.”—

    You know what? Have you been watching over the first 3 games? The team desperately needs someone with that kind of technical ability. If Augusto is that good, then he needs to be playing, and let the rest of the team figure out how to attack through him. If he’s that good, the concern isn’t how he fits the group, but how the group should fit around him. When he’s fully healthy and fit, he should be playing…if he really is that skilled.

    I’ve seen him play in reserve matches, as well as the playoff match. He does have great skill…and he is a bit clueless in working with his teammates….or they don’t know what to do to help him. Right now, the team needs someone who can play keep away and maybe create the odd chance. No one else is doing that right now, and it is desperately needed. The rest should sort itself out.

    • JAY NT says:

      true on all counts

    • bryan says:

      agreed 100%. i’m glad i don’t have to type that all out now! olsen has gained my trust, but i was always skeptical from the start and these kind of comments only trigger those old feelings. i’m still behind him though.

  5. Yevgeniy says:

    “Midfielder Marcos Sanchez and forward Carlos Ruiz earned the praise of Olsen after aiding United’s possession game during the second half of the draw at New York.”

    If that was DC’s possession game being aided, I am very satisfied as RBNY fan

    • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

      Glad you are satisfied with a point at home. That’s why the Atlantic Cup is in the Nation’s Capital. We wanted it more. You are too easily satisfied.

      YOU CANT HOLD US BACK!!!
      That’s all I have to say. Thank you very much.

    • bryan says:

      rbny fan satisfied with a home draw. lol

  6. uDaMan says:

    MLS soccer isn’t as easy to play as the other leagues. You really do have to know your team & the style of your team.

    Otherwise, how would you know where and to whom to bass the ball backwards to? MLS is not an easy league. Its a better defended and goalkeeper quality than many leagues (not the top 5 but in that direction) and the offense is improving. But in other leagues you would see sloppy midfield play, but shots would go on net. Not always the case with all MLS teams.