WASHINGTON – After a frustrating 2015 season in Colorado, midfielder Marcelo Sarvas is already finding one comfort in his trade to D.C. United: A boss who belongs to Bruce Arena’s coaching tree.
And while United head coach Ben Olsen’s style may differ from his longtime mentor, Sarvas believes the pair’s relationship will ease his own transition as he joins a third MLS club in three seasons.
“I’m sure they talk a lot, and Bruce gave him the best picture of me,” said Sarvas, who played for Arena’s LA Galaxy between 2012 and 2014. “It was three beautiful years in LA, and I’m sure Ben brought me here because of that time. So I just want to be the same as I was in LA.”
Arena coached Olsen in college at Virginia, during his 1998 rookie season at D.C. and later with the US national team through the 2006 World Cup.
Sarvas, meanwhile, had nine goals and 19 assists while winning two MLS Cups in three league seasons under Arena’s guidance. He also scored two playoff goals during the 2014 title run. But he failed to gain the same traction with the Rapids last season, registering only two goals and one assist as Colorado finished last in the Western Conference.
United acquired the 34-year-old Brazilian from Colorado a week into the preseason in exchange for a 2018 draft pick and allocation money.
“Of course, it’s a little bit of a surprise,” Sarvas said of changing teams so late in the offseason. ”You’re setting your family down, and then comes another change.”
United are coming off two consecutive playoff appearances, but at times have been accused of playing an ugly, defensive style. Olsen is counting on Sarvas to help his club get better at holding possession, even as they pursue reinforcements from abroad.
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“He’s going to help us on the offensive end out of our buildup,” Olsen said. “We have to do a better job all around the field with our passing. We believe in our group from a defensive standpoint... but now we want to evolve and get a little bit better in that area.”
Sarvas already sees similarities in how Olsen and Arena build their squads.
“It looks like the team that we built in LA, of course besides the stars that LA had,” Sarvas said. “People with experience in this league that know the league very well. Players that have been through a lot of things in this league.”