After the dust settled in the aftermath of D.C. United’s most recent loss, Saturday's controversial 1-0 result against Vancouver at RFK Stadium, a cross-country flight and film evaluation has D.C. again optimistic that things are turning around for the better.
“I think everyone feels good about the way we played. The final ball was lacking and we weren’t as successful in the final third as we would have liked to [have] been,” United coach Ben Olsen said Tuesday in Seattle. “But the overall way we played was as promising as we’ve played all year long. The ideas were good, the rhythm was right, the mentality we brought was good and I thought we dominated the game.
“Unfortunately, it was all for naught because of a terrible call, but you move on. You move on and draw from the positives that went into that game.”
Indeed, United’s attack, especially in the first half, looked capable of generating scoring chances that simply weren’t around in the early portion of the season.
But Wednesday night’s match against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE) will present a stiff challenge, especially considering United (2-12-3, 9 points) have scored just one goal on the road this year and made the trip without premier scoring threats in captain Dwayne De Rosario (hip flexor) and winger Nick DeLeon (ankle).
“He reinjured it,” Olsen said of De Rosario’s hip flexor during the loss to Vancouver. “We put a lot into that game. We were asking a lot out of those guys. Right now every game is crucial if we’re going to try to make a run at the playoffs. In the end, maybe it was a bit much for Dwayne, but he’s been in very good form and hopefully it’s not too bad and we’ll get him back shortly.”
DeLeon was injured in last Wednesday’s Open Cup victory against New England as the club continues to power through a stretch of five matches in 16 days, which will end when United play Colorado on Sunday.
“We’ve only had all our pieces the last few [games],” Olsen said. “And now you’re seeing us grow a little bit with those pieces. Unfortunately, we continue to have some injury issues throughout this run. But a lot of guys are stepping up and doing a good job.”
With goalkeeper Bill Hamid away with the US national team for Gold Cup action, Joe Willis is likely to step into the starting role. In two MLS starts this season, Willis has allowed four goals in two losses but is arguably one of the more capable backup ’keepers in the league.
“I try and take every practice, even when Bill is here, the same way and get the most out of every practice,” Willis said. “Whether Bill’s with us or with the national team, nothing for me really changes.”