A few days have passed since D.C. United’s 4-1 loss at Chicago, a gutting regression after weeks of incremental improvement. Ben Olsen wasn’t happy about it at Toyota Park on Saturday night and wasn’t happy about it reflecting on the performance Tuesday at RFK Stadium.
“We were reactionary. We were out-competed,” he said. “They were a better team from a soccer standpoint. Outcoached. Pretty simple.”
United (2-14-4) remained winless on the road and, after making strides defensively for weeks, took two steps back. Luis Silva‘s superb goal from distance was the only bright spot.
“It was very difficult” to accept after the team showed signs of life, said Olsen, whose club will host the New England Revolution on Saturday night.
“I didn’t take it very well and hopefully the players didn’t take it very well. We just got away from what was working – making teams earn goals, looking out for each other, being more physical, having good starts. You name it. Every cliché that a coach is going to spew out of his mouth, that was the case. We didn’t do it. We didn’t do a lot well. And [the Fire] played well on top of the fact that we were second in a lot of areas.”
*Dejan Jakovic returned to league play at Chicago following an eight-game absence, replacing Ethan White at halftime.
“He did fine,” Olsen said of the Canadian center back. “He is still working his way back to fitness. … I wanted to get him some minutes. Our backline didn’t have a great day, so it seemed like a good time to get him in there. This is Ethan’s first run of a lot of games, and sometimes it’s tough to concentrate over a span of a month and a half. You have a game where you are not at your best. Joe [Willis], same thing. We had a couple guys that just had young, naïve games, and it cost us.”
*Forward Jose Peña, who started all three matches for El Salvador at the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer, has begun workouts as part of a new relationship between United and FESA Academy, which supplied seven players to the U-20 squad. Peña, 18, scored the go-ahead goal against Australia. At this point, General Manager Dave Kasper said, he is considered a guest player, not a trialist.
*Chris Pontius, a late scratch at Chicago on Saturday with a tight hamstring, did not practice today.
*Dwayne De Rosario, who did not travel to Chicago because of lingering issues with a hip flexor injury, resumed workouts this week.
“He’s coming along,” Olsen said. “He wasn’t ready [to play against the Fire]. He was almost there. With him going backwards with the same injury, we have got to get this one right.”
*Forward Conor Doyle, a Texas native acquired on loan from English club Derby County in an MLS lottery last week, began workouts today.
“We will see how the next couple weeks go,” Olsen said, “but I certainly think you will see him on the field sooner [rather] than later.”
I will have much more on Doyle later today.
*Defenders Wilde Donald Guerrier and Judelin Aveska, from Haiti’s Gold Cup squad, are on trial.
*From the Obvious Correlation Department …
Last in the league in goals (nine) and assists (eight), United is also bottom in shots on goal (59, or an average of just under three per match). Real Salt Lake is tied for first in goals (33) and, you guessed it, first in SOGs with 115 (almost 5.5 average).
United has been called offside 66 times, second most behind the Montreal Impact’s 72, but oddly, has earned the fourth-most corner kicks (111).
*Defender James Riley will appear on HBO tonight (10 p.m. ET and encore presentations frequently in the coming days). He agreed to an interview for the “Real Sports” story about Chivas USA’s hiring — and firing — practices. (Riley was dealt to United in preseason.)
Soledad O’Brien: ”Do you think you were traded because you’re not Mexican or Mexican-American?”
Riley: “Yeah, I would say.”
O’Brien: “Do you think your teammates who were traded were traded because they’re not Mexican or Mexican-American?”
Riley: “Yes. It was just a systematic expulsion of players that didn’t align with what they were trying to do with Chivas USA.”
O’Brien: “Did you ever think in this day and age that you’d be talking about not getting a job because you’re black and you’re Korean?”
Riley: “Right, never.”
Riley’s thoughts on the matter have changed since February, when he told me: “I didn’t see a bias. They did a few things different culturally, but it was a great group they assembled.”
I was able to watch the episode in advance. It’s damning. HBO interviewed several individuals accusing the club of bias. MLS did not comment for the story. Speaking on behalf of Chivas USA, director of soccer Paco Palencia embarrassed himself on-air and then, prompted by a club official, abruptly walked away from the interview session.
I’m eager to hear the reaction from the league and fans after the premiere broadcast …