SAN JOSE, Calif.—Spartan Stadium. Buck Shaw Stadium. Avaya Stadium.
The venues might have changed, but the difficulty of getting three points as a cross-country visitor to San Jose hasn’t. Not since 1998 – now-D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen’s rookie year as a player for the same squad.
That allowed Olsen to take a glass-half-full approach after being held to a 1-1 draw against the Earthquakes on Saturday night. Olsen’s club took a first-half lead via Patrick Nyarko’s first goal for United, only to see San Jose forward Adam Jahn redirect an equalizer home in the 88th minute.
D.C.’s winless streak has now reached five matches to open the season, and they remain last in the league in terms of goal differential at minus-6.
“I think the guys are disappointed in that locker room, because we’d like to get that [winless streak] off our backs,” Olsen said. “But it’s still about the process. It’s still about finding out who we are and what we’re made of. I thought tonight, we hung in there against a tough team to play, at home.
"We’ve got to find ways to finish out games and put together 90-plus minutes of focus and concentration. Tonight, I thought we had it, for the most part. We’ll just keep building.”
After surviving an initial push by San Jose, D.C. conjured up a classic counterpunch goal to break out in the 34th minute. Nyarko, acquired this winter in a trade from Chicago, darted into the penalty area while fellow newcomer Lamar Neagle sized up an inswinging cross from the left wing. Nyarko sliced into open space between two San Jose defenders and went against goalkeeper David Bingham’s momentum to open his D.C. account after scoring 19 league goals in eight years with the Fire.
“It’s unfortunate that we still haven’t got that first win, but it was a great, great positive output today,” Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “We got the goal early and we were defending the goal, but we were fairly comfortable. They were putting the pressure on us, but I think we were doing a good job. We couldn’t see it out, but that kind of impact, offensively and defensively, is what I’m hoping to accomplish for this team.”
Regardless of the outcome, there was one definite positive for Olsen: his one trip to San Jose in 2016 is over and done with.
“I’ve come here for 18 years,” Olsen said. “I’ve seen a lot of comebacks in this city.
"They throw a lot of balls in the box. It’s a long night of defending and battling. To come away with something here is a positive; however, it hurts a little bit because you have three [points] there late if you can hang on.”