WASHINGTON — D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen wasted no time throwing his two newest acquisitions into the mix.
Dwayne De Rosario and Brandon McDonald were both in the starting lineup and played 90 minutes in Saturday night’s 2-2 draw against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union.
It took De Rosario less than 45 minutes to leave his mark on the game, setting up Josh Wolff for the game’s first goal, and impressing his new head coach.
“I thought overall [De Rosario] had a pretty good night,” Olsen said after the game. "He worked his tail off. It was a long week for him, not only because of the traveling, but also emotionally.”
McDonald was no slouch either, coming in at central defense and bringing an imposing presence to DC’s back line. And while the team couldn’t quite solve their tendency to concede late goals, McDonald had plenty of fine moments.
Like De Rosario, Olsen came away pleased.
“I thought McDonald was very good, too,” the coach said. “He was steady and I thought he was a leader back there, and he helped us out defensively.”
Both moves could pay off in a big way this season for a young DC team. De Rosario adds a championship mentality, an offensive weapon from midfield, and another attacking option for United.
With only two training sessions under his belt with his new team, De Rosario did his best to create chances. Lined up in a diamond 4-4-2 at the attacking midfield spot, there were flashes of what this offense could be capable of once they all get on the same page.
“These guys understand the game at a high level and they make quality runs,” De Rosario said. “A guy like Charlie [Davies] impacted the game in different ways, he made a lot of good runs and gave us space out there by drawing a lot of attention. The same with [Josh] Wolff.
“It’s good to come into a situation like this and to have an immediate impact and help the team. I’m looking forward to continuing an understanding with those guys.”
Meanwhile, McDonald showed signs that he’ll add a vocal presence to help a defense that has struggled to hold leads late in the game and lacks experience.
Throughout most of Saturday’s match, McDonald could be heard bellowing orders to his new teammates in order to help the defense keep its shape and stamp out the defensive issues.
“I feel like if we come together as a whole ... we shouldn’t break down,” he said. “That’s my job in a way, to put guys in places, try to get us in a bank of eight and bunker down to try to get results.”
Both will look to a full week of training before representing United for a second time this Saturday against archrivals New York Red Bulls.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.