Ben Olsen expresses himself during D.C. United's draw with Colorado Rapids, May 14, 2011.
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DC's Olsen: Poor first half "cost us two points"

WASHINGTON — If there’s one thing that the young D.C. United team has supposedly learned this early in the season, it’s the need to come out strong from the opening whistle.

But the absence of that mentality proved costly, as United delivered a flat first-half performance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

“To a man, we weren’t sharp enough from the get-go,” Olsen told reporters after the game. “We think we’re a little bit better than we are because we had two [good] games, so we can go out and forget about the commitment, the fight, all the little things that got us the results we had in the last two games. ... All these little things weren’t good in the first 45, and essentially cost us two points."


And while there were bright moments — forward Charlie Davies had a goal called back for offside — Olsen clearly was not satisfied with the side’s effort.

“I’m not going to give good reviews to anybody in the first half on our squad,” he said.

The lack of sharpness led to Colorado’s opening goal in the 23rd minute. Drew Moor scrambled home a Jamie Smith free kick.

Making matters worse before the break, both Davies and DC’s other starting forward Josh Wolff had to be subbed off because of injuries. Santino Quaranta and Joseph Ngwenya came on, burning two substitutions.

But as poor as the first half was, the second half started brightly.

“The response was fantastic,” said Olsen. “I had to rile them up a little bit, and I thought coming out of the second half, it was much better. We were first to second balls, the ball movement was better, our balance was better.”

DC bossed possession for much of the second stanza, and finally came up with the equalizer when Chris Pontius won and converted a 62nd-minute penalty kick.

“I think we have a good group that is coming together,” Pontius said after the match. “Obviously at home you want to win all your games, especially against a good team like Colorado tonight, but we’re coming along well. There are a few things we need to fix, but at least they are things we know we can fix in training and through hard work.”

DC were able to hang on for the point — narrowly conceding late winner when Wells Thompson fired over in the 87th minute — but Olsen still felt disappointed with the final result.

“I think we were unfortunate again to not get out of there with the win, even though we played 45 minutes of soccer,” he said.

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