Olsen: DC won't have same group next season

D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen

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D.C. United

WASHINGTON – For the fourth year running, D.C. United missed out on a playoff berth.

And the club’s technical staff have made it clear: Change is coming.

“We do need some things for sure,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s not going to be the same group of guys that we have this year, next year, it’s that simple. We’ve got to get some additions, and we’ve got to get better. That combined with some of these young guys getting this experience, and a year older and a year better, hopefully it’ll be a good recipe for a successful season.”

Not that there weren’t encouraging signs at season’s end. The team nearly doubled their point total from 2010, and the team’s offense dramatically improved.

“We’re knocking at the door, we have a real core of players to work off, both young and veteran guys,” General Manager Dave Kasper said. “We’ll obviously need to continue to add to that quality into the side and improve the team.”

Down the stretch, one of DC’s biggest weaknesses was mental lapses at the back, as a young and inexperienced defense bled goals at inopportune moments. Compounding that problem was a hamstring injury to central defender to Dejan Jakovic, who played his last game of the season on Aug. 21.

It fell upon three rookies to fill in down the stretch, as Perry Kitchen, Ethan White and Chris Korb all saw action in decisive games down the final stretch. All received praise from Olsen in the wake of the season-ending loss to Sporting KC.

And while the first-year coach said his side doesn’t need “major reinforcements,” he hinted at already having a picture of what the team needs to do in order to end the playoff drought.

“I know what we need for next year,” he said. “I know it’s not easy to find what you need in this soccer world, but we will get that and make this team better.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.