HOUSTON – Would Ben Olsen prefer to have Dwayne De Rosario at his disposal on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium? No question about it.
Does Olsen believe De Rosario should be available after news dropped on Friday morning that the D.C. forward would miss two games though suspension for violent conduct? The answer, though a bit complicated, is no.
Speaking to MLSsoccer.com following D.C.’s final training session before the season opener against Houston (8 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), Olsen explained why he wasn’t up in arms after the MLS Disciplinary Committee handed the United star a two-game suspension on Friday for head-butting Danny Cruz in a preseason match against the Philadelphia Union.
“It’s not about Dwayne,” Olsen said, emphasizing that holding players accountable for preseason actions is a good thing. “The reason I’m saying, ‘Yeah, he deserves [the suspension],’ is that the preseason gets nasty. I’ve seen guys get hurt every year in the preseason from bad tackles and there are no sanctions.
“The reason I think it’s good is that I don’t want some kid who’s on a trial and wants to make a name for himself whacking Chris Pontius next year four or five times. It just gets chippy. You’re not going to change preseason. You’re not going to change guys getting sick of preseason towards the end of the two-and-a-half months.”
Pontius, for his part, said he didn’t agree with the suspension, noting that players hadn’t been warned that disciplinary action could be taken for events occurring during preseason matches.
Olsen agreed that informing players should be a priority, but didn’t absolve his star player of responsibility for his actions, which were pieced together by the Disciplinary Committee via interviews with the players involved, match referees and independent observers.
“I think Dwayne’s at fault,” he said. “I think the league could do a better job as well of making sure everybody understands that you can get suspended for preseason games. Again, in theory, if there’s a head-butt, you’re setting yourself up to get suspended.”
And that’s exactly what happened, forcing D.C. United to play their second straight match in Houston without the 2011 MLS MVP after De Rosario missed the first leg of last season’s Eastern Conference Championship through injury.
“We’re going to miss Dwayne,” Olsen said. “We missed him last year. They’re used to playing without Dwayne right now. I suppose we’ll be OK.”