May 12, 2013, 4:30 PM EST
An odd thing happened last night as I prepared to canvass the D.C. United locker room, looking for souls who could help explain how things have gone so terribly sideways for the proud club – one with such a rich history of success, even if so much of it can now be filed under “relatively ancient history.”
Obviously, there’s Dwayne De Rosario, who has been around the MLS block more than a time or two.
And then there is ..
Well, there is …
Exactly. There really aren’t many around RFK who have been in the ditch before, who know how to keep their cool, use their wits, keep steady under withering fire and plot a solution for safe escape.
Most of D.C. United’s front line players are youngsters. Chris Pontius, at 25, is one of the “older” marquee men around RFK. But, truly, when has he run the gauntlet of something like this? Perry Kitchen, talented as the D.C. day is long, is just 21. His one time in real, white-knuckle pressure was with the United States under-23 side in that Olympic qualifying bid a year back – and we all know how that turned out.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid (who was on the bench last night in Dallas, one of five changes for Ben Olsen) was there, too. He is just 22.
Even Canadian international Dejan Jakovic, although he’s 27, hasn’t been through the big-time wringer, with his biggest matches coming in United’s playoff contests a year ago and in a scattering of internationals with varying degrees of true significance.
I thought about this perhaps being one of D.C. United’s problems, this lack of veteran cops on the beat, men who stare down a losing streak with “been there, done that” resolve. Men who could, in short, stabilize a listing ship.
Actually, we could certainly make the argument that a club-record seven-game losing streak is a ship tgat is more than “listing;” that puppy is sinking, and right fast.
John Thorrington would be just such a person, but he’s hurt. Marcelo Saragosa has plenty of experience, but he’s a role player at best. It’s hard to lead from the back.
I think this is likely part of the problem – and there really are so many issues to deal with right now for Olsen and United. It’s getting harder to say how long this will continue to be Olsen’s issue for sorting. Either way, Olsen isn’t buying it, this “roster age” conundrum. Here’s what he said when I asked about this very thing last night:
It doesn’t take an old guy to mark on a corner kick. It doesn’t take an old guy not to slip, last time I checked. I’ve got enough age out there to win games. It will help when Nick DeLeon can play 90 minutes. It will help when Chris Pontius gets back. It will help when Johnny Thorrington gets on the field again soon.”
Exactly. It will help.
This isn’t necessarily a criticism of Olsen, or even of GM Dave Kasper, although roster selections through the years around RFK have certainly been all over the place.
It’s just to say: lack of a few more experienced, settled and composed types is making it harder to get things straightened out around that wayward lot.
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