With just two wins through their first 19 matches, enough was enough. Thanks to a string of recent transactions, D.C. United have injected new life into a woebegone season.
And after a bye week to help acclimate their newest players with one another, United coach Ben Olsen said on Friday that there’s a “freshness” about the group ahead of a trip to Chicago for Saturday’s match at Toyota Park (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
With midfielders Luis Silva, Jared Jeffrey and Collin Martin joining the team (the D.C. Homegrown was subsequently sent on loan to Richmond), center back Brandon McDonald traded to Real Salt Lake and forward Conor Doyle on loan from Derby County, things look a bit different in United’s locker room.
“I don’t want to say the word 'rebuilding,'” Olsen said. “But we have an eye on now and we have an eye on the future.”
The trend, it appears, is for United to continue acquiring young, American players in an effort to build a sustainable base of talent. Silva, Jeffrey, Martin and now Doyle, all fit that mold.
“We’ve tracked him for a little bit now,” Olsen said of Doyle. “Rarely do you get a chance to pick up a No. 9, a young No. 9 that has a little bit of European experience. We’re looking forward to getting him in. We’ve heard a lot of good things about him. So we’ll see. He’s not a slam dunk in this league, but he’s certainly a guy we’re excited to have on the roster right now.”
Last-place United also are hoping Doyle can help the club improve on its eight goals scored this season. But as D.C.’s players continue to return to health – Nick DeLeon is available for selection while Dwayne De Rosario is questionable – the influx of new players means Olsen will have more lineup choices to make.
“I haven’t had to make that many tough decisions this year when I look down just because of injuries and other factors,” Olsen said. “As far as getting the new guys sorted out and incorporated in the group, it usually just happens organically and I don’t have to do anything special.
I’ve got a good group of guys in there that understand the business and understand that getting traded and going to a new team isn’t the easiest thing in the world. So they do a good job of welcoming them and making sure they feel at home.”
United will play Chicago (21 points) three more times this season, including an upcoming US Open Cup semifinal match on August 7.
“Your scouting of them and knowing who they are and them knowing who we are, that kind of evens out,” Olsen said. “We get another look at each other and get to kick each other before the Open Cup.”