Skip to content

D.C. United: the men of RFK Stadium are clearly on the rise

Nov 19, 2012, 12:05 PM EDT

Houston Dynamo v DC United - Eastern Conference Championship - Leg 2 Getty Images

On closer, nit-picky inspection, D.C. United’s playoff campaign was not such a highly decorated one.

Four matches brought one victory, dramatic and memorable as it was. They were outscored in the playoffs, 5-4. That’s not exactly the stuff of MLS champions.

But that’s just fine and dandy, I say.

Let’s not lose perspective here. The Black and Red just completed a wonderful post-season campaign (its first since 2007, don’t forget) that speaks quite well of the league’s youngest manager, Ben Olsen.

Keeping some of the young talent – Andy Najar in particular – will be tricky. But a nucleus of young talent (Chris Pontius, Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen and Bill Hamid most notably) make up terrific, economical young building blocks.

And Dwayne De Rosario still has something left. He will be 35 next year, but the veteran Canadian international takes care of his body and showed only marginal signs of decline this year. He’s a shrewd performer who can be counted on tweak his playing style, leaning a little more toward “passing” playmaker, a little less toward the slash and dash that once defined his sizzling game.

Olsen has the right blend of historic connection and passion that United’s upper management covets, married with a professional approach. He’s still learning, and Olsen would be the first to say so. So long as DCU’s second-year manager accepts the learning curve and keeps his mind open, there’s reason to believe he could successfully steer the Good Ship United for some time.

(MORE: Analysis of Sunday’s playoff contest at RFK Stadium)

There is a danger: the entitlement complex that seems to lie within the organizational DNA must be tamed. This is not the MLS of yesteryear, where 10 or 12 teams competing to see who could best exploit the pliable player acquisition mechanisms, and where one coach (Bruce Arena) was often a cut above the coaching field.

D.C. United will never dominate as it did in those initial MLS days, and the targets must reflect the day of MLS 2.0. The approach must remain measured, otherwise that sense of entitlement corrupts the decision process.

If management is smart, they’ll dump the underperforming “stars” and re-balance the salary budget with a little more attention to the back line.

(MORE: A season of improvement around RFK)

Either way, United has plenty to like about 2012 – and reason to look forward to even better days ahead.

Olsen clearly sees it the same way. What he said following Sunday’s second-leg against Houston:

We talk about laying a foundation here. Having something special for years to come. And I believe that it’s here. I really do. It’s a bunch of great young guys who are willing to fight and do what it takes. This experience was invaluable for them, being in these real games down the stretch. It’s a special group. There’s a certain character and spirit that makes me proud to be a part of them.”

Latest Posts
  1. Three things we learned from Arsenal vs. Chelsea

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Here’s three things we learned from the Emirates after a lively London derby.

  2. Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea: Organized Blues defending effectively ends title race

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT

    ChelseaArsenal AP

    There were few good chances as Arsenal could not find a breakthrough and Chelsea opens up a 10-point table lead.

  3. Oscar headed to hospital after thunderous clash with Ospina

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    How did Oscar not win a penalty? Getty Images

    Despite playing 30 minutes after a dangerous clash, Oscar has been sent to the hospital.

  4. Amid thrown fireworks, Torino wins first Turin derby in 20 years

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT

    Torino Getty Images

    Torino picked up its first win over Juventus in 20 years, but the fans kept it from being a truly happy day.

  5. Watch Live: Arsenal vs Chelsea (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:29 AM EDT

    WengerMourinho AP

    There is no featured striker on the field for Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho instead selecting six midfielders to interchange.

  6. Everton 3-0 Manchester United: Toffees score early, snuff out visiting attack

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:20 AM EDT

    Everton Getty Images

    Manchester United had nothing to offer as Everton won its third straight against the Red Devils at Goodison Park.

  7. Who were the biggest snubs in PFA’s Premier League Team of the Season selections?

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Swansea City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    The PFA have announced their team of the season. But should these 10 players have been involved?

  8. PFA Team of the Year announced: 6 Blues lead the way

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:18 AM EDT

    Chelsea Getty Images

    The likely title winners took up over half of the team of the season, marking their domination.

  9. Belgrade rivalry again results in riots, injuries

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:49 AM EDT

    Belgrade Getty Images

    Fans clashed with each other and with police as objects became weapons and smoke filled the pitch.

  10. Watch Live: Everton vs Manchester United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:47 AM EDT

    Fellaini Getty Images

    Marouane Fellaini returns to his former club on a much higher note than last season’s visit.

  11. MLS roundup: 20 goals in 4 games Saturday night — WATCH THEM ALL!

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:44 AM EDT

    Tyler Deric, Houston Dynamo Getty Images

    It was a bad night to be a goalkeeper. A really, really bad night.

  12. MLS Snapshot: Vancouver Whitecaps 1-2 D.C. United

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:36 AM EDT

    Michael Farfan, D.C. United & Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps Michael Farfan, D.C. United & Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps

    Winning on the road in MLS is always impressive. Doing it 3,000 miles from home and with a five-man bench is downright remarkable.

  13. MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 4-4 Sporting Kansas City

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Jalil Anibaba, Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

    MLS Game of the Year? Probably. It had a little bit of everything, including some amazing goals you HAVE to see.

  14. MLS Snapshot: New England Revolution 4-0 Real Salt Lake

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:42 PM EDT

    Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution

    Good luck stopping the Revs, now that they’ve got a head of steam behind them. Another Cup run looks likely.

  15. MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew SC 4-1 Philadelphia Union

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew SC Getty Images

    Crew SC’s four-headed attacking monster completely shredded the Union’s defense. The Black and Gold are very for real.

  16. La Liga & Serie A roundup: Barcelona keep pressure on Real Madrid; Inter Milan top Roma

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:44 PM EDT

    Lionel Messi & Neymar, FC Barcelona Getty Images

    As long as Barcelona keep winning, the La Liga title is theirs. The way they’re going at the moment, they might just win out.

  17. WATCH: The 2 Robbies discuss which Premier League teams will be relegated

    Apr 25, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe, The 2 Robbies Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe, The 2 Robbies

    With four teams separated by two points for the final relegation place, it’s becoming an absolute dogfight. The 2 Robbies break it down.

  18. Pearson: “It doesn’t matter how you win games,” as Leicester inch closer to safety

    Apr 25, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    Nigel Pearson, Leicester City FC Nigel Pearson, Leicester City FC

    When in a relegation dogfight, win any way you can. That’s the message from Nigel Pearson, and that’s what Leicester City have done.

  19. Pellegrini: Victory over Aston Villa “one of our worst games of the season”

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City FC Getty Images

    Play poorly and win, or play well and lose? You can’t always have it both ways, which benefitted Man City on Saturday.

Featured video

Should Chelsea be more entertaining?