Ben Olsen media briefing and poll

Two days before the decisive match of the MLS Eastern Conference finals, D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen met with reporters to discuss the injury situation and game preparations. Center back Brandon McDonald (calf) and midfielder Marcelo Saragosa (knee) trained this morning, but Chris Pontius (groin) remains out.

How is the team coming along?

“We’re okay. We’re still patching things up, figuring out what we’ve got to go with. But we have had a good week of training. It’s good to get our legs back. I am sure Houston is doing the same. It’s good to have fresh guys in the playoffs, and it should be a fun night.”

Pontius appears to be the biggest question mark…..

“We’re still evaluating. He is definitely injured and we’ve got to see where he is. We need to be very smart because we can’t afford to pull anyone out early for this game.”

The group seems calm about the situation…..

“We’re confident in the way we play at home. All year we have been aggressive and gone after teams and scored goals at home. So that part doesn’t necessarily need to change. We need to score goals, though, so there is a little bit of a different mind-set going into this game. It’s still a soccer game and we’re still confident in our ability to win games by two goals at home. We have done it before and, then in the end, if things don’t go according to plan, you have to make some moves. You have to be aggressive. Just like we don’t want to get over-aggressive, I’m sure they don’t want to sit back and defend. It’s a little bit of a chess match. Again, it’s going to be a fun night. The fans are going above and beyond to put on a great show, I’m hearing, and hopefully we can put a little bit of a show on our own.”

De Rosario’s status?

“He’s healthy and ready to go. It does seem like a game you might want to use a guy like Dwayne De Rosario. [smiling] Again, a lot of things happen in 90 minutes, so you can prepare certain ways, but you have to be ready to adapt. He still knocks on my [office] door every morning, tells me he is ready.”

With so many guys questionable and having just three subs, how does that impact the lineup decisions?

“You have to go into this game thinking 120 minutes being down two goals. We would be very pleased if we went into overtime, right? So you have to have a majority of your guys ready to go for that duration. If you make too many subs early, it could affect what you need to do down the stretch. It’s all stuff that is playing out, that we’re figuring out. Fortunately, we have had a week to digest different scenarios and the way we want to go about scenarios. We’ll see. You can plan all you want, but it’s all about Sunday and putting on the show.”

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.

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Steven Goff · November 15, 2012

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