Despite the result in the Columbus game, a 2-1 loss, the Black-and-Red have plenty of reasons to be positive heading into their battle with Montreal on Saturday. It’s always tough to find positives after suffering the sting of defeat, but Coach Olsen and his players didn’t have to work hard to find said positives. Olsen made that sentiment clear early in his post game presser, “A better performance than the Colorado game, in a lot of ways. It’s the best performance we’ve had over two months.”
While it’s easy to take that as “coach speak” and he could be trying to rally the troops, the evidence was in the performance. There’s no need to rally, they put together a strong performance. The only negative being they were plain unlucky on several scoring opportunities. Alvaro Saborio is a gifted scorer, his resume supports that. His play does as well, he got several big chances against Columbus that he would convert nine out of 10 times. It’s sports, a game of inches, the bounce of a ball, the touch on a pass or shot. Sabo just had a tough day at the office, some solace can be found in the quality of chances that were created for one of DC’s best finishers.
From the start of the match, United seemed to be the aggressor, which is a huge change as they are a counter-attacking team. The pressure led to several miscues from the Columbus backline, which created several quality chances for United. They also performed well in an area they have struggled in all season long, sustaining possession. They were able to keep the ball and put together several quality build-ups with patience and good passing. Last week, Bill Hamid talked about those partnerships, Steven Birnbaum reflected on Hamid’s statements after the game against the Crew. “We worked on those relationships throughout the last week or two, we really focused on those.” Birnbaum’s comments were easy to see during the match, United was working well in space and in tight areas. Getting the ball out wide, switching fields when needed and getting it up top and making supporting runs. All of which played a huge role in creating those quality chances.
“We’ve been in a little rut in the past month, it’s just something you have to work through and get out. We showed some positives last week getting a tough tie in Colorado, so it’s tough to come back here and lose on our home field. We gotta put this behind us, we gotta game next week in Montreal. It’s going to be a tough game.” – Sean Franklin, DCU defender
Franklin and Birnbaum made great points after the Columbus game, Steven wasn’t a fan of the “soft goals” that they’ve been giving up recently. Sean brought up the rough stretch, but was clear when responding to my question about if D.C’s played it’s best football yet. “No, definitely not.”
Again, I’d definitely have to agree. That’s both the great and scary part about this season, they’ve managed to spend a ton of time in first place, yet they haven’t come close to peaking as a unit. The last three games have been great because it’s been the same starting 11, they are finally starting to get into a rhythm and it shows in their play. “I think the more that we play together, the soccer will get better and we’ll understand each player’s tendencies” says Franklin. If they can continue to build on the chemistry and partnerships while securing a playoff berth, United will be in a good place heading into the post season. It starts Saturday by getting a result against Montreal, we’ll have more on that matchup leading up to the game.