While it was only the third game of the season, last night’s win over the Galaxy was huge for the Black-and-Red. As Olsen shared last week, their schedule is front heavy so the wins from the start of the season to mid April are pivotal. The team is starting to get healthy, they aren’t close to being at full strength so every win weighs a little more right now. If they can start to string together wins, it would go a long way once this team is finally healthy. Especially up front, the attack will be much much better when those bodies get back. Still, 2-1 isn’t a bad place to be after having back to back matches against the Red Bulls and the reigning champs.
After the game, Coach Olsen addressed the media and we caught up with a few of the players. We’ll share what they had to say from last night’s win over the Galaxy.
Ben Olsen on Chris Pontius’ performance
I felt Chris, in a lot of ways, worked too hard last week. He was doing too much on the defensive side, not picking his spots and making sure we’re a handful on the offensive side. Today he did that, constantly running, he looked like he had juice today. He was in good spots, constantly threatening and I think as the season goes he’ll start to do better with those opportunities. Hopefully, get his numbers up.
On Kofi Opare stepping up in Birnbaum’s absence
Kofi is a big storyline today, he hasn’t had a lot of minutes. Not only for us, but in the league. From what I’ve seen of Kofi in the league and the times we’ve used him is that he’s a gamer. He has the mentality that he can step in and do the job and tonight I thought he was great. It was a good matchup for him I think, he deals well with the big fellas and some of the pounding down there. It was a good night for him.
On finally beating LA
It’s been a while, they’re always putting on very good teams. I don’t think that was the best LA team you’re going to see this year and I think it was important for us to take advantage of a team that was missing some key components. But even taking those guys out, they’re a good team. They know what they’re doing, we were up against it and luckily we found a way to finish a play.
On Taylor Kemp’s first game back
We asked them to be aggressive, both him and Sean. Make sure they’re involved in the attack, Taylor gives us a different dimension with his left foot. I thought he was good all night, it was helping out with possession or balls in behind. He just opens up the field a little bit bigger for us and defensively, he was pretty sharp. Al in all, everybody showed up tonight, again, it wasn’t perfection…but we had 14 guys show up tonight and do their job. That’s what we have to have every time we step on the field and then we give ourselves a chance.
Former Galaxy player Sean Franklin talks about what beating his former team meant to him
It’s always nice to see those guys and I had mentioned last year we went to LA, they had beat us pretty handily. I want to say it was 4-1, that kind of stuck in our minds and everyone wants to play against the champs, play well against them and tonight we came out on top.
On the job the back line did after Birnbaum went down
It’s a bummer when you have a guy go down a minute into the game, but Kofi came in and played well. It’s one of those plays when the next guy needs to step up and he did that. It wasn’t just the back line tonight, it was a collective group. I thought our forwards worked hard, our midfielders, our backline, Bill had a couple of big saves. So, it was just a collective effort tonight.
Franklin walks us through the possession on which DC scored
We were pushing, they were pushing. Davy got the ball and he served a good ball to Nicky, Nicky beat his guy..1v1 and put a good ball in and Pontius with a great finish. Through my mind, I knew it was the 90th minute and I went crazy. Maybe I might have celebrated too hard, being that it was my former team, but I was excited. The whole play, it was a great play.
Taylor Kemp on just being back on the field
It felt good, I’ve been itching to get back in the line up so it felt good to be back in there and felt even better to get a win.
On the back line’s performance after losing Birnbaum
A lot of credit to Kofi on that, that’s a tough situation because Steve went down very early. It’s sad to see him out, but I thought Kofi stepped in and did really well defensively for us. Helped keep our shape, we had some changes to the back line this week with me and him coming in. I thought Bobby was good, Sean was good and we kept a zero so it was a good night for us.
On what the team will look like once finally healthy
I think we’ll only get better, we’re missing a lot of guys with Silva and Marcus. A bunch of other people that are out right now, so the more players we have, the more options we have. The better that we’ll be and that just comes with more players and the more that we’ve been playing together, the later the season goes on, we’ll have more continuity with each other. I think we have a lot to look forward to, but tonight was a good step forward.
Chris Pontius scored his first goal of the season, his thoughts on the improving attack
It’s early on in the season, we’ve put some good things together, but we just haven’t been sharp enough in the final third. Still tonight even, we could have put a few more. When we’re sharp mid-summer, later on in the season, I think we put a few more on, but it’s coming a long. It’s a work in progress, it’s early on in the season and I just liked that we kept battling the whole game. All 90 minutes and we end up getting the winner.
Nick DeLeon when asked how early he saw Pontius on the game winning play
To be honest, I didn’t. I just put it in a dangerous area and he made a really good play on it.
On United’s ability to counterattack throughout the game
We’re a counter attacking team, as long as our defensive shape is strong. They were pushing a lot of numbers at the end, but we held strong. You hold a shutout, you give yourself a chance. Credit to everyone on the team, our defense, goalies, everybody had a good game today. Especially Kofi, coming in off the bench like that. He played a very strong game in the back.
About what the team could look like at full strength
That’s the thing about this team this year, we’re a very deep team. If somebody goes down or somebody’s out, we have somebody who can step in and do an even better job if possible. It’s going to be awesome, it’s going to be competition for spots, going to raise the intensity in training.
If he looks forward to that type of in house competition
Yeah man, that’s what you come hear for. Get better everyday and if you have somebody behind you who’s threatening to take your spot, that makes you work that much harder. We’ll be a dangerous team when we get those players back, even more so.