Among the players was Chris Korb, a defender who was shirtless in 45-degree weather after apparently giving his game jersey to a fan.
Several players and coaches were said to tear up in the postgame locker room. “It was emotional,” said Chris Pontius, the injured defender. “We didn’t want this ride to end.” Olsen, he said, told the players he was proud of them, “that this is a group to build off of,” that “we’ve got the right team here now, we’ve got the right type of players to win games.”
Pontius added: “I feel like we got the community back and behind us — not that we didn’t before. But there’s a lot of interest now.”
That’s why there is no better time to close a long-overdue, soccer-specific stadium deal in Buzzard Point, near Nationals Park. Ground could be broken sometime in 2013. By 2015, they could commit this too-big, too-old relic to memory — the way the Redskins did, oh, in 1997, and the Nationals did in 2007.
It’s time a franchise as committed as this one to the town and its legions — one of just two MLS teams out of 19 with a stadium problem – is made whole by a city that once footed a neophyte Major League Baseball team $600 million for a new home.
Seeing this young crew and its quickly maturing coach — which should stay together for at least a few years — come together, bond and then pull out win after win, a real home is the least United and its promising future deserve.
“We changed formations, we’ve changed styles of play throughout the season,” Olsen said. “The way we’ve adapted is probably the story of the year. When someone goes down, we had to change. Their willingness to change, their willingness to buy in to whatever I was selling, you know, crazy or not, they were willing to do whatever we wanted or needed to do to survive.”
On the last night of the season, the first season in a long time that meant something, Olsen added: “I’m just proud. I’m just really proud to be part of this group.”
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.