This is not exactly how Ben Olsen figured a revamped D.C. United would kick off the campaign.
Following a lackluster performance in a 3-1 defeat against the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Sunday night, Olsen rued the fight and character in his team as they dropped their second game in a row to start the season.
“I’m disappointed in the group,” Olsen said after the match. “I thought we gave [the Galaxy] too much respect early. We didn’t get that this was going to be one hell of a fight.”
Full Highlights: LA 3, DC 1
D.C. were outplayed for much of the 90 minutes against a reeling Galaxy side who had failed to register a win in three MLS and Champions League games this season, and proved on Sunday night that they were the perfect potion for LA’s woes.
Looking to shake things up following last week’s loss to Sporting Kansas City, Olsen made five changes to his side, though the departures of Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen forced his hand at goalkeeper and defensive midfielder.
But the head coach gambled by keeping Designated Players Branko Boskovic and Hamdi Salihi on the bench, and only Boskovic made an appearance in the game due to an injury to defender Dejan Jakovic.
“Salihi was in my plans to come in,” Olsen said. “But [with] the injury to Dejan at halftime, I had to bring in a sub.”
The second-guessing might linger anyways, as United failed to create many scoring opportunities. And at the other end of the field, the team had to rely on goalkeeper Joe Willis – who "was unbelievable," in Olsen's opinion – to make several critical saves to keep the Black-and-Red in the match in the first half.
Unfortunately, Olsen didn’t hold the rest of his group in such esteem as he did Willis, which might prompt even more changes to the starting XI for next weekend’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
One change to the side is already inevitable, as Andy Najar leaves to join the Honduran Under-23 side. It will go down as a surprise if that is the only change D.C.'s starting XI.
“[Numerous changes are] not going to happen again,” Olsen said, "because I’m not going to put guys out there that that’s going to be a trend with. It’s pretty simple.”