''There are expectations here that are different than other places,'' interim head coach Ben Olsen said.
Getty Images

Olsen, D.C. United change up their routine

WASHINGTON — Ben Olsen has been D.C. United’s interim head coach for less than two months, but he’s already learned a few tricks of the trade—like avoiding the media in the days after a tough loss.

Citing the suspension he incurred in Saturday night’s 3-1 loss to Houston, Olsen took a rain check, so to speak, on answering questions after a rare Monday training session this week.

You can’t blame him. Reporters on the United beat keep asking the same questions about why the team keeps making the same sorts of mistakes and why the same results keep unfolding. At this point, there are no new answers available.

WATCH: D.C. United 1, Houston Dynamo 3

Get Microsoft Silverlight

But that doesn’t mean the DC coaching staff isn’t willing to try something new to break the vicious cycle. After deciding earlier this summer to give the team most Mondays off to aid in recovery times, this week players who did not start against Houston went through with a lively workout highlighted by half-field 6-vs.-6 games with full-sized goals.

“We’re just trying to do something a little different, see if we can switch something up,” explained technical director and interim assistant Chad Ashton. “We’ve been doing the same thing for a while so sometimes change is a good thing, just to feel like you’re changing up the week.”

The weekend’s setback was United’s 18th of this league campaign. While the pain of losing has not lost its sting, the risk of complacency remains significant.

“The hardest thing is—with how games are going, how the season is going—to try and keep guys fresh mentally,” added Ashton. “This stuff starts to wear on you. It starts to beat you up emotionally and to have a fresh outlook going into every weekend can be a challenge. As a coaching staff that’s now what we have to do.”

Four games remain in United’s season, with a trip to Colorado coming up next. United have not won on the Front Range in more than a decade and Ashton will likely have to lead the team because Olsen, under an automatic suspension for last Saturday’s bizarre ejection alongside Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear, cannot sit on the bench for the clash with the Rapids.

“It was ridiculous, for both coaches,” said Ashton. “It’s just a weird situation.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.