One of the talkers coming out of Week 25 in MLS was Ben Olsen’s choice to keep Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius (pictured) off the starter’s list for Saturday’s match in Montreal.
The result was fairly predictable for a club without its top pair of attackers, a 3-0 loss. No offense intended to Long Tan or Lionard Pajoy, the replacement pair for Saturday’s contest at Stade Saputo, but they are not De Rosario and Pontius.
So, bad call from Olsen? Plenty in the Black and Red supporters camp seem to think so.
But they are wrong.
These lineup choices cannot be made in a vacuum. It’s not just about Saturday’s match in Montreal; it’s about Saturday’s match in Montreal as a set of contests before and after.
As we talked about yesterday in the story linked directly above, the schedule monster has turned its attention to D.C. United now, biting the head off Olsen’s team. (Others, too, of course.)
United hosts New York on Wednesday. (Clear your calendar for that one, if possible; it looks like a good one, and it’s live on Galavision.) Olsen and Co. then board the bus to board the plane for a flight into Utah and a tough match against Real Salt Lake.
That contest against RSL will be United’s fifth in 14 days. It’s a harsh reality of MLS life; every team endures these arduous hauls. So all they can do is deal with it.
The best way to guarantee that the least possible points might be accumulated over that tough stretch is to start all the first-choice regulars in all five matches. It’s simply too much; even the best conditioned among us cannot perform at top rev given such a demanding task.
And that’s not to mention whatever lasting damage, in potential injury and fatigue, might come from such ill-advised usage.
If I had any quibble with Olsen’s choices Saturday, it would have been in using those two at all; both players came on with about 30 minutes remaining.