WASHINGTON – After a 4-1 win at home, most managers might start off the postgame press conference talking about the positives from the game. Apparently, D.C. United manager Ben Olsen isn’t like most managers.
Rather than spend his time with the media solely praising what was a dominant performance on Sunday, Olsen brought up New York’s weakened side right away during his press conference.
“New York came here with a watered down team,” Olsen said. “And it showed at times. We are going to see a much better New York team when they get healthier and their guys that are on suspension come back.”
HIGHLIGHTS: DC 4, NY 1
Olsen was referring to the absence of injured center back Wilman Conde and the suspended Rafa Márquez. With both players available for selection, the game might have turned out completely differently. Instead, United faced a side that was defensively frail, as noted by New York manager Hans Backe.
“It was about our defending, we gave away four goals,” Backe said after the game. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen in a game that four goals coming after one pass. It’s poor defending. They didn’t need to work for it.”
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Though the managers might disagree how the goals came about, both realized the glaring errors committed by the Red Bull backline. But as Olsen noted, D.C. had to take advantage of that feeble defending, which is something United managed to do in the end.
“We have to take the win with a grain of salt, but I feel like we took advantage of that, and that’s what you have to do,” Olsen noted. “Throughout the season, you’re going to have games like this where you are playing a team that’s a little down, and you got to step on them and take advantage of them.”
This hasn’t been the first time Olsen has used a similar rhetoric following a big United win this season. After the 4-1 demolition job of FC Dallas at home on March 30, Olsen used a similar line, as Dallas was missing an injured George John in the lineup.
“That’s not the best Dallas team,” Olsen said at the time. "[They] were missing a pretty good center back, and I think they were a little leggy."
United’s other win this season, a 2-1 decision over the New England Revolution, also came when the opponents had a noticeable absence. In the game at Gillette Stadium, the Revs were without the services of Shalrie Joseph, who was serving a one-game suspension.
Clearly, Olsen has noted the trend, and appears to be trying to downplay his team to an extent.
Is it a ploy to make his side better? Probably, but it hasn’t taken hold quite yet, as United have failed to string two wins in a row together, despite being amidst a six game unbeaten streak.