The Washington Post

D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen responds to Branko Boskovic’s comments about playing time

After Branko Boskovic vented his frustration about being removed from Saturday’s match and his general playing time this season, Ben Olsen addressed the issue with several reporters after training Tuesday at RFK Stadium. Take it away, Benny.....

“The game needed a change. Lewis [Neal] came in and did a good job. I am very happy Branko is pissed off about it. I want guys pissed off if they are coming out of the game and they want to be in the game. This is a normal reaction. I was the same way” as a player. “Subbed is never fun.”

He has only played 90 minutes once.....

“You need to play 90 minutes consistently to get fit and he hasn’t been in the plans for 90 minutes. So he is not 90 minutes fit, in my mind.”

Has he voiced any frustration to you directly?

“No. He’s a pro. He’ll be fine. He’s pissed off he got subbed. I can sleep at night because I thought the game needed a sub and it ended up helping out.”

He seems to think his playing style makes it seem as though he is growing fatigued.....

“I am not going to get into a debate about whether he is fit or not. Yeah, he could continue playing the game out there. He’s not going to fall over, but I thought the game needed a different look. He wasn’t on his last leg. I’m sure he could’ve put another 30 minutes into the game. But that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t need something else, maybe a guy who is 100 percent. That’s my decision and that’s done. And we won the game, and he should be happy we won the game.”

He did say he was happy about the team winning.....

“Well, good. Unhappy that you got subbed? Great. Happy that we won the game? That’s all I want from my players. So if that’s the case he is in, beautiful.”

You said the other night he did some real magic out there but leaving him in there has a cost. What does that mean?

“When someone gets tired or is not 100 percent against a team who has a bunch of guys playing offense in the central midfield and is cheating by going into a three-back system, it’s hard to keep a guy who is maybe more of an offensive guy than a guy who is maybe a little more defensive. I think we’re blowing up the fitness issue a little bit too much rather than the type of player that game needed at that moment.”

He also wondered why it’s always him first to come out.....

“Because that’s the decision I make.”

Will you talk to him about it?

“No, it’s okay. I am not going to make this a big issue. I don’t have any ego with this stuff. He [complained about] me in the press? I don’t care. What do I care? I care about this team winning games and doing the right thing for this team. I realize [every week] I can’t please all of my players. That’s one of the first lessons I learned here. I think Branko has been great. His role on this team will continue to be a guy who can start in some games and come off the bench in others. That’s where I have him. He’s not going to be happy about it, but he’s a pro. He is going to continue to do his work, I’m sure of it. He will continue to be a big part of what we’re doing down the stretch....

“He played 56 minutes. He set up a goal and he had some pretty darn good free kicks, right? And I subbed him for a guy who helped out and I thought the game needed. What else is there to talk about? I don’t understand what [the media is] trying to stretch here.”

Because he he decided to talk about it.....

“That’s fine. I am fine with that. I don’t feel like having a debate about whether he is fit or not fit. He is unhappy with the sub? Fine. That’s normal. I like that. I was the same way. As long as he is for this group and continues to contribute to this group, what’s the issue?”

Over a stretch of games, is it difficult for him when he has to look over his shoulder at the sideline waiting for a sub?


Is it sustainable for him to be a 60-minute player?

“Sure. I’m not saying that’s his role every game, but this happens. This is part of who we are as a group. We have some guys who can contribute off the bench and offer different things. We’ve got some guys I will use in away games that I wouldn’t use at home. This isn’t personal. It’s about making decisions I think are going to help this team win games. Branko has been a great soldier. I’m surprised it has taken him this long to say something, to be honest with you.”

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing