Dwayne De Rosario and Ben Olsen seemed to have patched up their differences after the team captain criticized his head coach following D.C. United’s 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
“I have the most respect for Benny, so that is never going to change,” De Rosario said after Monday’s workout. “We are both competitors and we are not always going to see eye to eye. You get over it. With the respect we have for each other, we put it aside.”
They talked Sunday at RFK Stadium, De Rosario said.
Olsen did not want to elaborate on the conversation, saying, “That’s between me and Dwayne. We had a good chat. I’m not going to talk about that stuff. I’ve got a team to get ready for the [U.S.] Open Cup” on Tuesday night at third-division Richmond.
Olsen had left the 13-year MLS veteran out of the starting lineup and did not call on him until midway through the second half. United (1-9-2) is winless in 10 straight games, tying the club record set 11 years ago. After the match, De Rosario said he was not happy about the decision and questioned the coach’s lineup choices.
Olsen declined to address De Rosario’s assertion that Olsen didn’t want him playing alongside veteran forward Carlos Ruiz, who started for the first time this season. “I don’t want to get into tactics and why I play certain guys,” Olsen said Monday.
Midfielder Chris Pontius, United’s longest-serving player, said he didn’t like seeing the disagreement go public, but “you have two fiery characters who care and want to win. … When you get people who want to win under stressful situations, it obviously affects us and wears on us mentally. You just saw frustration being leaked out.”
De Rosario said his postgame comments were “in the moment. I am passionate. I always want to play and to play a big role. Until I lose that passion and have to really look inside myself and see if my time is up … I still have that desire and hunger to always be involved — it’s a good sign to myself. You go through those obstacles. Obviously, [speaking out] didn’t help, but the position we are in right now, it builds into the frustration. It adds up and you say things that are more out of emotion.”
It is unclear whether De Rosario will start in the Open Cup third-round match against the Kickers, who are 5-0-3 in the USL. MLS coaches typically utilize secondary players in the early stages of the tournament, but given United’s regular season shortcomings, Olsen might put greater emphasis on this one.
“With the situation we are in with the league,” he said, “this is pretty important.”
However, playing for the second time in four days and facing a trip to Chicago this weekend, Olsen suggested some regulars would remain at home.
Two United players on loan to Richmond, goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra and 17-year-old forward Michael Seaton, are likely to start for the Kickers. In last year’s tournament, United needed overtime to defeat Richmond, 2-1, on Marcelo Saragosa‘s goal.
*Center back William Ekong, a Dutch under-19 national team selection from the Tottenham Hotspur system in England, has begun a trial. Ekong, 19, began his career in the Ajax Amsterdam academy before moving to English club Fulham. He is out of contract and available on a free transfer.
“Physically he looks like he is equipped for the league,” Olsen said. “It’s a tough week to evaluate players” because United plays on the road twice. “We’ll probably have him here for a week or two.”
Meantime, United appears ready to sign Sainey Nyassi, a veteran Gambian winger released by New England two weeks ago. “We’ll see if we can work something out, but he has done well,” Olsen said.
*Olsen said he overreacted a bit in Saturday’s postgame news conference when he heavily criticized the players.
“I was a little emotional in that we didn’t have as many guys play as bad as I thought,” he said. “It was more of the same: soft goals. On the other side, we didn’t score, and that continues to be a real weak spot. We created more chances, more numbers forward, and there were some signs that sticking with that crew, we’ll eventually break through.”
United has scored six goals and been shut out seven times.