In Sunday’s post game press conference, D.C. United’s head coach made an interesting statement when asked why Luciano Acosta came out of the game early in the second half. While Olsen didn’t go into details, he did say that his team needed to get “fitter”. That can be taken several ways.
“I think we can get more fit as a group and we still have a few guys that aren’t there yet, for various reason. We need to get fitter.” – Ben Olsen
It could be taken that his team is just not yet in optimum shape, which isn’t too hard to believe just three games into the season. The other, that the team’s new style of play requires a higher level of “fit” than in past seasons. That’s the option that we’ll discuss here, a team that wants to thrive off of high pressure needs to be in great shape.
Through the first three games this season, the Black-and-Red have looked like two different teams at times. Most often, they’re a bit slower in the second half and errors start to occur. In the opening halves to this point, they’ve been the aggressor, creating chances and keeping the ball on the opponent’s half of the field. It’s been a dangerous bunch when pressing and forcing teams into sloppy passes at the back and allowing them to control the possession battle.
One of the few who looks to be fit enough to play this style at this time is winger Patrick Nyarko. He had a very good match against the Rapids, causing trouble for Colorado all game long. His ability to separate from a defender at any time with his quick first step allowed him to stay on the ball at times for his teammates to make runs. Nyarko also did a good job of beating his man outside, getting inside and drawing fouls. His play earned a few set piece opportunities for his team.
Acosta, Lamar Neagle and Chris Rolfe have been very productive in those stretches as well. As the team continues to improve their fitness level to suit their style of play, it’ll just be a matter of capitalizing on the opportunities created.
In the draw with Colorado, there were several chances in the first half for the home side to go ahead. They just couldn’t capitalize, a critical touch was just a bit off or a pass was a little late. Still, there is reason for optimism for fans of the Black-and-Red. After a week of training, it should be clear if the team is in fact a bit more “fit” in their matchup with FC Dallas on Saturday.