WASHINGTON — Since lifting the Supporters' Shield in 2007, D.C. United have failed to reach the minimum goal of every MLS team each season: reach the MLS Cup Playoffs.
In his second full year at the helm in D.C., head coach Ben Olsen has set his sights on returning the Black-and-Red to the promised land.
“It’s a huge goal,” Olsen told reporters this week. “This team is built to make the playoffs, and we need to make sure that’s happening.”
On the field, Olsen played a part in capturing eight trophies for United, in the process becoming one of the more decorated players in MLS history. But D.C. have captured just one trophy since start of the 2008 season, and have missed the postseason in all four of those campaigns.
“We always have high expectations here,” Olsen said. "You want to raise the trophy in the end."
Olsen has overseen a massive overhaul of the squad in his two-and-a-half years in charge, as United have ushered out some of the old guard in search of a team that will finally be able to reach the playoffs again.
As such, the longest-tenured player currently on the roster is midfielder Chris Pontius, who the team selected in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.
So there are cohesion concerns, especially in light of the cancellation of the last game of the Carolina Challenge Cup last weekend against the Columbus Crew thanks to a torrential downpour.
Olsen, however, did not believe the cancellation had any adverse effect on his team’s preparations ahead of the match against Sporting KC on Saturday (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
“We would have loved to get [the game] in,” Olsen said. “But we ended up getting it in here, with an intrasquad scrimmage, with the guys we were going to play on the weekend.”
And hopefully, play in the postseason as well.
GET TICKETS to D.C. United vs. Sporting KC, Saturday, March 10, 2012, 7:30 pm ET at RFK Stadium. Watch on MLS LIVE.