DC United reserves get their moment in loss to Ajax

WASHINGTON — D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen wasn’t about to let the opportunity to test the depth of his bench pass him by.

Olsen used Sunday’s 2-1 friendly loss to Dutch champions Ajax to give almost every single healthy player on the roster a run out, as 18 players took part the game.

And despite the loss, the first-year coached liked what he saw.

“These exercises are always interesting, what you can get out of them,” Olsen said after the game. “I thought it was a good day for us. A lot of guys who haven’t seen minutes came in for us and I thought gave a real good effort.”

While a number of regulars like Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius and Dejan Jakovic started and played the first half, DC made five changes at the break.

Throwing in the likes of Blake Brettschneider, Chris Korb and Steve Cronin in goal, it was certainly a prime chance to show the coaching staff why they should be on the field more often.

Rookie forward Brettschneider didn’t miss his chance, as his contribution included DC’s lone goal on the day. After a torrid start in the beginning of the season in reserve games, scoring came as a bit of a relief for the draft pick out of South Carolina.

“The season started off really well with the reserve leagues and all that stuff, and then a little bit of a dry spell lately," Brettschneider said. "It’s nice to score goals period, to contribute and provide something for the team.

“It’s nothing but a confidence-builder to go out there, and for 45 minutes I did some good things," he added. "It’s playing time, against a really good opponent and you can’t get that just anywhere.”

Of the two players to actually go 90 minutes, one was right back Brandon Barklage. Playing in a new position, the third-year pro at times looked a bit confused by Ajax’s 4-3-3 formation. But he recovered well, and evolved into an attacking force down DC’s right flank.

Just getting on the field was good enough for Barklage.

“We don’t get 90 minutes very often, and it’s good to get out there, not only to get the experience, but also to get fit,” he said. “That’s something that we don’t get that the Starting XI does week-in, week-out.”

The club’s latest academy signing, Conor Shanosky, also made his RFK Stadium debut, a few days after wrapping up a training stint with the US Under-20 national team in France.

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.