While fans celebrate, United keep focus on Earthquakes
It’s been five long seasons since D.C. United have tasted the postseason, so you’ll forgive the fanbase for celebrating the team’s current seven-game unbeaten run that’s seen them climb to second in the Eastern Conference.
But with his team on the West Coast to face off against the best that the Western Conference has to offer in San Jose on Wednesday (10 pm ET; watch LIVE online), United manager Ben Olsen is still pushing his players to become a better team.
“We still have a long way to go on the offensive side,” Olsen told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Northern California on Tuesday. “We are scoring goals, but as far as our rhythm and our way of play, we want to still get better and create more chances and score more goals.”
According to Olsen, that rhythm will come about once the players become more comfortable with each other. With several new key additions to the team, the chemistry is not quite where he wants it to be, though the evidence of improvement is visible.
“A lot of these guys are still learning each other, but that process has gone pretty quick, but we have a long way to go,” Olsen reiterated.
That said, United are coming into the game at San Jose as the hottest teams in the league. Their seven-game unbeaten streak, with four wins and three draws, equals the longest one in the league this season, when Sporting Kansas City won their first seven games of the season.
And after struggling to score earlier in the year – D.C. were shut out three times in the first five games – United are tied for third in the league with 15 goals. And to top it off, they’ve now won back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of the 2009 season.
“The mood is good,” said Olsen. “The guys have a good energy about them. They have earned a lot of these results, with hard work and being tough to play against. The goals have been coming, and Maicon [Santos] and [Chris] Pontius have helped. Overall, it’s been a good team effort that’s got us on this roll.”
That roll will be put to the test on Wednesday night though, by an Earthquakes side currently top of the Western Conference. And with center backs Emiliano Dudar and Dejan Jakovic home resting injuries, Olsen will have to shuffle his backline to deal with the threat of San Jose – particularly the partnership of Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart.
“They stayed at home to deal with their issues and we will try to get them back as quick as possible,” Olsen said of Dudar and Jakovic. “We have to shuffle a little bit, but we are confident in the guys back there to do their job. But make no mistake; we are playing a very tough team in San Jose. Obviously Wondolowski and Lenhart are a real threat. They have scored a bunch of goals in the league, and they are a very dangerous duo.”