ORLANDO, Fla. – Ben Olsen’s abiding memory from D.C. United’s 2-0 defeat at Orlando City on Wednesday night will be his stunned reaction to the double-save by Jonathan Spector and Joe Bendik that kept the score at 1-0 in the 75th minute.
With United seemingly on the verge of their first goal from open play in five games, Spector managed to foil Lamar Neagle’s shot on a goalkeeper-less net and Bendik somehow recovered in time to prevent Sebastien Le Toux from heading the rebound into a completely empty net.
Olsen was the picture of disbelief in the aftermath of the game-turning incident. The head coach didn’t change his tune after the match.
When asked whether his team could possibly have fashioned a better chance, he admitted: “Nope, they certainly can’t [get any better.] We had a bunch in the first half, too. We had a few that are certainly plays that we can make.
“I thought in some ways it was the best soccer we’ve played all year as far as the tempo, connecting passes, finding looks on goal. But the other part is you have to stick them. Very rarely have I been singing the ‘We need to finish our chances’ story, so that part is a positive, but now we have to take the next step and put these chances away and get our defense a break.”
Defender Steve Birnbaum was equally shocked by the whirlwind play that started when Neagle latched on to a poor back pass, rounded a charging Bendik and seemingly had the goal at his mercy.
“That was an unbelievable save,” Birnbaum admitted. “We thought that was a goal for sure and [Bendik] comes out of nowhere and takes it away from us. Obviously it was a momentum shift but props to him for making that save.”
While the save spoiled D.C.’s shot at following their 1-0 win at Vancouver on Saturday with another result, Olsen was pleased with his side’s effort. Now, United will turn their attention to the LA Galaxy, who they’ll host at RFK Stadium on Saturday (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE).
“I thought the effort from our guys tonight was outstanding,” he said. “We’re disappointed because it was a game where we should get something out of it and I think that’s how the guys feel.
“But we take three points out of two road games, and a game tonight where we took a step forward in certain areas, getting some guys back and building our depth. I think most teams would take three points from two road games and now we have to take care of a home game.”