WASHINGTON – Standing in front of his locker after D.C. United’s season-ending 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo -- the club's 24th loss of 2013 -- Bill Hamid said what everyone was thinking.
“That record, man, I’m sorry, but it [expletive] sucks,” Hamid said.
While Houston clinched a playoff spot on the day, United set the league record for fewest wins in MLS history (3).
“You never go into a season and think you’re going to win three games,” said United midfielder Chris Pontius. “You’ve got to learn from the mistakes that were made. The whole club does, every player does. You can’t just let this be a waste of a season. You’ve got get better next year.”
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On Sunday, United -- who slogged their way to the finish line on a 12-match winless streak -- were plagued by the same issues they have been season. Lack of clinical finishing in the final third, momentary defensive lapses, trouble defending set pieces. It was a harsh end to a harsh campaign.
But, as United coach Ben Olsen pointed out after the match, D.C. have been preparing for the offseason for three months, even more so once they secured the U.S. Open Cup title on Oct. 1.
“You name it, we could get better,” Olsen said.
Changes are coming, and they’ll likely come soon. United, who will have the top pick in the MLS SuperDraft as well as plenty of allocation money from the league, are in a unique position to succeed next year despite how suddenly this season turned sour.
“I have a lot of faith in a majority of these guys,” Olsen said. “With the things that are given to us by the league, we’re going to have a very competitive team next year and I’m looking forward to it.”
Asked if he expects to be back next season, Olsen was honest.
“It’s not up to me, but I’m preparing and doing everything I can to make sure we’re ready for next year whether that’s the case or not,” he said.
Most indications say Olsen will be on the sideline again at the start of 2014. Which of D.C.’s players will be back and what other pieces will come in, however, remains to be seen.
“A lot of things definitely need to change, so hopefully we can work on those things,” said United captain Dwayne De Rosario. (He replied “Of course” when asked if he hoped to return to D.C. in 2014.) “I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. I think a lot of us could do a lot of improvement in the offseason, mentally, physically, preparation-wise.”
As D.C.’s players, several in street clothes, exchanged handshakes and chatted with one another in the locker room after the match, there was a sense of eagerness to turn the page. To finally have this nightmare of a season behind them.
“This season has now been forgotten in my brain, to be honest with you,” Hamid said. “I’m sure every single one of us are in the same boat because thinking about this is depressing. 2014, that’s where the thoughts are right now.”