WASHINGTON – D.C. United's players and coaches have spent the opening weeks of their 2014 preaching patience. After a set of opening matches that didn't quite live up to the excitement generated by a busy offseason, that patience may very well be wearing off.
"I feel like some of them are getting pissed off," Olsen told MLSsoccer.com after a training session earlier this week. "And I’m pissed off. That’s a healthy thing."
United wrote their place in the MLS history books last year for all the wrong reasons. They set multiple records for offensive and defensive ineptitude en route to arguably the worst season in league history. Through it all, a close-knit locker room somehow remained calm, collected and good-humored – maybe a bit too much so, if you ask Olsen.
"I think at times last year, we didn’t take these losses hard enough, we weren’t angry enough," said Olsen. "At least at the moment, they’re angry and want to right the ship."
The team worked through that anger in training this week, which included a particularly intense Tuesday session during a spring snowstorm in D.C. Though the team has managed to retain a certain sense of humor through its current rough patch – several United players made time to pelt each other with snowballs after training on Tuesday – the mood on RFK Stadium's auxiliary fields has been far more business-like than anything else.
"Look, we need to score goals," said Olsen, whose team has been held without a goal en route to an 0-2 record. "It’s obvious that our attack isn’t what it needs to be at this point. Yes, it will take time, but it's not an excuse. It should be further along at this point. We’ve had a good week of training and we’ve continued to work on our offensive rhythm and movements. They get better each game, there've been some positive signs."
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As for that rhythm, much has been made of the relative absence of forwards Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson from the offensive picture. On Wednesday, Olsen reiterated the importance of their teammates to the equation.
"It’s not just the forwards, it’s not just Espindola and EJ," said Olsen. "It’s all of us, the midfield, the providers. It’s our backs – can we nick one on a set piece? It’s not going to be easy in the meantime. Whether it’s the final ball, a little extra effort in the box or some of the pattern stuff that will happen with time, it just has to be a little cleaner."
D.C. United will try to end their scoreless and winless streaks on Saturday when they host the Chicago Fire (4 pm ET, NBCSN).