WASHINGTON – After an earlier-than-usual training session on the pitch at RFK Stadium Tuesday, D.C. United’s players quickly showered and dressed in formal attire to attend the club’s annual Kick-Off Luncheon, a charity event which officially introduces the team to fans and sponsors.
The occasion provided another opportunity for the team, particularly the new faces, to continue to become familiar with one another, something coach Ben Olsen hopes his club will begin to do on the field as well.
“I think the next month or two, we’re going to still be feeling out who we are,” Olsen said. “We have a big returning core and that’s a good thing, but I still think we’ve got to learn some of our new pieces. And we’ve got to learn to play again with Dwayne [De Rosario].”
United won’t get that opportunity until after Saturday’s home opener against Real Salt Lake (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE), where De Rosario will serve the second of his two-match suspension for a preseason incident against Philadelphia. De Rosario missed United’s first match of the season, a 2-0 loss in Houston last Saturday, a city where D.C. still have never won a match.
“You always come out of there and you’re gutted from the loss emotionally, but the things that have haunted us there are very, very fixable,” Olsen said. “No matter how we get outplayed, we still have chances to win games and steal games all the time and we’ve just got to clean that stuff up.”
After watching the film, Olsen and his players agreed their performance wasn’t as dreadful as they initially thought.
“It was just little things in that game,” said United midfielder Nick DeLeon. “Going to sleep, not winning second balls. We were awful on second balls. I think it’s just an attitude thing we need to tidy up. Positionally, I think we were pretty good, I think it’s just some of the mental things right now.”
Among the many tweaks to the shape with De Rosario out, DeLeon slid into a slightly different attacking role in Houston and is anxious to become more of an offensive factor in Saturday’s match.
“I’m a guy that likes to get a lot of touches on the ball, so when I don’t do it, it’s hard to stay interjected in the game,” said the second-year winger. “I felt like I could have gotten on the ball. Personally, for me, I will be looking to do that more here Saturday at RFK.”