WASHINGTON – As Ben Olsen answered questions about his team’s effort Sunday afternoon in a 1-1 draw against Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium, his responses sounded a lot like those he gave during United’s stretch run a year ago.
A gutsy performance. Complete, from a focus and commitment standpoint. Connected within the group.
And while D.C. United are still a long way from rounding into form and being competitive in the standings, ending their seven-match losing streak against one of the league’s better teams is a definite stepping stone.
“It beats losing,” Olsen said at the start of his press conference.
After having two goals disallowed this year for incorrect offside calls, United were the beneficiaries of a disallowed goal in the 29th minute. And despite conceding an own goal on a set piece in the 60th minute, United responded with an equalizer off the foot of Kyle Porter shortly six minutes later to draw even. It’s the fourth time this season D.C. have scored a goal to level the match after trailing 1-0.
“It wasn’t a great performance from us, but it was a gutsy performance and it’s what we needed right now to change our course,” Olsen said. “Again, things don’t go your way, especially when you have a bunch of losses and guys are doubting themselves a little bit. So you’ve got to dig in and you’ve got to find a way to get results. That starts to steamroll into confidence and that’s how you get out of this stuff.”
United still sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with five points (1-8-2), but thanks to a more energetic effort at home and some standout saves by goalkeeper Bill Hamid, the postgame atmosphere wasn’t as downtrodden as it has been since the club last earned a point via a scoreless draw in New York on March 16.
“It’s time for us to turn it around. We, as a team, we want to start getting points and moving up the ladder,” Hamid said. “We’ve got to keep working and create our own luck. If we continue to create our own luck, it will be the beginning of a good turnaround.”
United are also getting healthier, as Chris Pontius returned to action Sunday and assisted on Porter’s goal, Nick DeLeon played 90 minutes in central midfield. John Thorrington could have dressed, but Olsen said he wanted to give him one more game.
“There’s a lot to work on. I’m not sugar-coating this tie, but it beats losing,” Olsen said. “I think there’s a little bit of an exhale [in the locker room], if I’m completely honest with you. It’s not easy to lose this many games and not have doubt. I think this gives them a chance to exhale and maybe smile for a day or two and understand that here’s an opportunity to really change things next weekend against Portland.”