Without consistency, D.C. United are longshots to make the playoffs.
That was one of the many points harped on by head coach Ben Olsen in the wake of DC’s 2-2 draw against Chivas USA on Wednesday, a game that saw United blow a 2-0 lead on home turf.
Back at it on short rest, DC have moved on from losing a lead, and are ready to host a surging Real Salt Lake team on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
The mission: a solid, steady, and consistent 90-minute performance that yields a badly needed three points.
“There’s a mentality to this game that right now, some of our guys don’t have,” Olsen said after Wednesday’s draw. “And we have talent and have some guys that [in] flashes have very good mind frames, [but] it’s still not good enough. You have to have it for 90 minutes.”
And those kinds of performances have been elusive. So much so that United have yet to win back-to-back games this season.
“I haven’t seen consistent, high-level performances game after game,” Olsen explained. “It’s there – the talent is there, but talent is not enough. I have been on terrible teams and won games because we had guys that would do anything – anything – to win a game.”
That type of desire and commitment will be vital against a Claret-and-Cobalt side coming in on a hot streak. They dealt the New York Red Bulls a 3-1 loss on Wednesday, RSL's fifth straight win, and visit RFK Stadium looking for their first-ever win in the nation’s capital.
“They’re a team that’s moving up in the charts real quick,” forward Josh Wolff said. “They’ve got some good results, getting guys healthy again.”
Among those joining the ranks of the healthy could be RSL playmaker Javier Morales, out since May with a broken ankle. The Argentine enganche could make his return at, making United's task that much harder.
“We’ve got to pick up points, and real points,” Wolff added. “It can’t be ties. So if we’re in position to take the lead late or to hold on to a lead, our response is going to be good no matter what [on Saturday].”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow @travismclark