Ben Olsen coaching at Nashville

Ben Olsen blasted his team’s first-half performance in a 1-0 loss to Nashville SC Wednesday night, saying D.C. United were “a bunch of frauds,” in the opening 45 minutes.

"We were a bunch of frauds in the first half of that game and it was an unacceptable performance from us," he said in his post-match press conference. "It was uninspiring. We looked like we were still on Sun Country Airlines or whatever we flew here this morning and it just wasn’t cutting it. All around the board: the soccer part was very, very poor, problem-solving, connecting passes and making the right decision. All of it was off. With that, we’re defending against a team we shouldn’t be defending that much against. And again, the animosity wasn’t there. It was just not good enough overall.”

Olsen also wasn’t pleased with referee Tori Penso, who sent off Russell Canouse for a second bookable offense in first-half stoppage time. But he also said Canouse has to be more careful, having already been booked ijust minutes earlier.

“I don’t like when you’re on a card, whether you’re right or wrong you have to be smart and not put yourself in that situation where she can make what was probably not the right decision,” he said. “But you can’t put yourself in that situation.”

The energy lacking in his team’s pedestrian first half was provided by 16-year-old Homegrown Moses Nyeman, who came on for the start of the second half.

Watch: Ben Olsen slams his team's first-half performance

“I wish some of the older players played like my 16-year-old when he came in,” Olsen said of Nyeman.

That injection of enthusiasm off the bench by Nyeman, and later Griffin Yow, is Olsen's biggest takeaway from a defeat that has D.C. United rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with one win in their last 11 games.

“What I take away is that they’re young and excited and that they play with a fervor that should inspire us. And that’s what we need collectively. That’s what everyone should be bringing to the game,” Olsen said. “We have an opportunity to play pro sports and get paid a lot of money to step on the field and play at the level that we’re capable of. And that wasn’t the case tonight in the first half for too many of our players.

“It’s refreshing to see kids that are getting their first taste of pro soccer and squeezing every minute and every moment out of each touch, each play, their concentration level is high. This has not been the case with this team this year as far as want, competitiveness and fire. It’s a good group in that sense. That’s what’s disappointing tonight because we don’t have the luxury in the situation that we’re in in the standings to have a night like this against a team that was also down on their luck with some personnel.”

Veteran defender Steve Birnbaum is hoping United can turn things around quickly from a first-half performance he called “pathetic.”

“We didn’t do basic things like passing and moving and tackling. Obviously we dug ourselves a hole with the red card,” Birnbaum said. “The first half was unacceptable. It was really poor from us and we need to look each other in the eye and nip this in the bud because we can’t play the rest of the season that way.”