WASHINGTON - Moments after D.C. United’s wild, back-and-forth 6-4 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening, United’s locker room was full of jubilant voices. For the second week running, United had battled back from a 2-0 deficit to claim a win, and players and coaches were basking in the post-victory glow.
There was one voice, though, that was nowhere to be found. Ben Olsen’s.
The D.C. head coach had lost his voice mid-way through the match, and who could blame him? He wasn’t the only one screaming during what will likely be remembered as one of the wildest matches in recent MLS history.
“He didn’t address us [after the match],” United midfielder Davy Arnaud told those huddled around his locker after the game. "We were walking off the field, and he tried to say something but he didn’t have too much of a voice left. And probably with good reason.”
"I didn’t know what to say,” said Olsen. "It was just one of those nights we’ll all remember. I don’t think I can talk.”
The encounter won’t soon be forgotten: the ten combined goals were the most ever scored in an MLS match at RFK Stadium, with seven of them coming during a 30-minute stretch of the second half. The fans in attendance were already in a frenzy by the time Nick DeLeon capped the scoring five minutes from the final whistle. His 30-yard screamer created pure bedlam.
And while nearly every United fans in attendance will obviously remember the match positively, the joy and pride in United’s locker room was tempered by the fact that — for the second week in a row — D.C. had spotted an opponent a pair of goals in the early stages of a match. Just last week, D.C. battled back after giving up a pair in the opening five minutes of their encounter with the Philadelphia Union, and on Saturday night RSL pulled ahead on a 2nd-minute strike from Joao Plata and a 21st-minute bomb from Kyle Beckerman.
“At 2-0 I was [like], 'Maybe this is the game that’s gonna teach us a lesson,’” a scratchy-voiced Olsen said in his post-game press conference. "Thankfully it wasn’t. Again, we’ll address it. We talked about it all week, the [way we start games]. I know the energy to start the game -- they understood the importance of the start. But it still happens. We’ll keep addressing it but it wasn’t for lack of the guys wanting to start well. That part is something we all need to figure out together.”
“It’s great that we’re scoring goals,” said Arnaud. “We’ve scored 10 over the past couple of games, but I’d prefer to get back to winning some 1-0s, 2-0s. I know it was entertaining, but we’re conceding too many goals … It was a poor start from us, again; we put ourselves in a 2-0 goal and if I was [Ben Olsen] I would’ve lost my voice as well."
On Saturday, United’s come-from-behind victory carved them out a unique place in MLS history - D.C. became the first club, ever, in the history of the league, to come back from two-goal deficits in consecutive matches. Seven times this year, they’ve come back to win a match. Undeniably, it was a performance high on character and resilience, as many of their victories have been.
Olsen and company will undoubtedly sit down and examine the game tape, and will probably not like everything they see. “I’m proud of our guys for coming back -- I can’t believe we did it again down 2-0, but giving up four goals at home isn’t acceptable,” midfielder Chris Rolfe told MLSsoccer.com. "That’s something that, once this craziness dies down, we’ll have to address for sure.”
But that dose of reality can wait for just a bit. On Friday evening, most of United’s players seemed a bit shell-shocked, perhaps dazed by their own fireworks display; maybe Rolfe himself put it best.
“That was the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of, in pro soccer."