Jamison Olave expects steep learning curve for New York Red Bulls' defense

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Jámison Olave left the New York Red Bulls’ season opener this past weekend feeling confident with the club’s attack.

The defense? Well, that’s another story.

Olave was part of the New York backline that allowed a two-goal lead to slip away in their 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers, and being that frail defensively is a cause for concern for the 31-year-old Colombian.

“The defense is worrisome,” Olave told MLSsoccer.com. “We scored three up top and allowed three in the back, that’s very worrisome. If you score three goals, you have to win. In this instance, we tied.”

While ideally the defense would be able to patch things up quickly, that is not realistic for a team that underwent so much change during the past offseason. Olave believes it will take a substantial amount of time and work for the defensive players to develop real chemistry with one another and that more mistakes will be made along the way.

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“It’s not something you learn in a month or two months,” said Olave when asked about the backline playing as a cohesive unit. “It takes a lot of time with a lot of work, a lot of work, and there are going to be errors like with anything else. This is a team where there are lots of new players and a defense where there are two new players and a midfield with several new players, so we have to learn how to play with one another.

“We all have to learn the coach’s system and try and stay as compact as possible.”

For Olave and the rest of the Red Bulls’ defense, their task gets no easier. RBNY will visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday (10 pm ET; ESPN2 in the US, MLS Live in Canada) and New York’s back four will need to make strides if they wish to prevent last season’s Golden Boot winner, Chris Wondolowski, from punishing them.

“You have to always be watchful for him,” said Olave. “Wondolowski is not a player who can beat you on the dribble or who runs a lot, but he’s a player who is always in the right spot at the right time. He’s a goalscorer, so you always have to keep your eyes on him because he knows how to move well inside the 18-yard box.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.