WASHINGTON – Playing in a light mist on the fields next to RFK Stadium on Tuesday morning, D.C. United returned to training following their most recent loss. But despite the team’s five-match losing streak, the mood wasn’t necessarily as gloomy as D.C.’s weather.
“I don’t worry about guys fighting and buying in to what we’re trying to do here. It’s not the character of this team," head coach Ben Olsen said. "These guys don’t hang their heads too long. We’re in this together. We got in this position as a group and we’re going to find a way out as a group.”
The position Olsen’s referencing is an unenviable one. United sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with four points in eight matches (1-6-1), and return to this week of training coming off a 3-0 blanking in Columbus – the team’s fourth scoreless effort on the road this year.
“I’m not making it all rosy,” Olsen said. “It’s a tough stretch and guys should be a little bit frustrated and questioning themselves, and questioning what we’re doing is a natural thing in this situation. Everybody’s got to dig a little deeper and try to claw out of this.”
Olsen said that several times he has reminded his group that teams with poor starts haven’t always historically finished in the basement. Fans need look no further than last year’s LA Galaxy, who won the MLS Cup after a sluggish first two months.
Captain Dwayne De Rosario has seen the spirit of the group tested in these first eight matches, but was happy to see United keeping things light on Tuesday.
“I think the last couple days after the game everyone was pissed off,” De Rosario said. “You can’t approach the game being pissed off and uptight. You’ve got to play doing what got you here. You’ve got to enjoy the game. You can’t play uptight because that’s when you don’t play your best. And it’s my job to keep the group loose, yes, but also focused on getting three points next week.”
De Rosario also was encouraged by the creativity shown by D.C.’s attack against the Crew. United generated 21 attempts on goal, six shots on target and had a goal disallowed for a controversial foul call against Perry Kitchen.
“I think we did string together some good football at times and string together some creativity going forward. But we still need to have that killer instinct, not only when we’re going forward, but all over the field,” De Rosario said.
Added Olsen: “From an offensive standpoint, I thought there were some good attacks and some good buildup. A little bit cleaner in some areas. The offense is growing, ironically, from game to game. Defensively, it’s hurting us.”