Olsen: “It is on the players now”

1 Comment

Ben Olsen is no longer searching himself and his coaching staff for answers. Players of D.C. United be warned, your coach is on the warpath.

“It is on the players now. I am going to put them under a microscope. We’ll see if that works because they were prepared [Sunday],” Olsen told the Washington Post. “I have looked at myself and now I am going to hold [the players] to very, very high standards. If it’s not working, we will make changes.”

So obviously a 1-5-1 start is not sitting pretty with Olsen and his staff, but what about the powers that be at D.C. United?  “Ben Olsen is not going anywhere,” General Manager Dave Kasper said. “Ben has a been handed a tough card with a lot of injuries and he has had to change lineups.”

The dreaded vote of confidence. Great.

Following the 3-2 defeat to I-95 rivals Philadelphia on Sunday, United sit bottom of the Eastern conference with just one win from seven. Olsen has a veteran squad trying to turn things around, but they’ve been hampered with the injury of  young attacker Nick DeLeon and 2012 MLS All-Star Chris Pontius’ lack of consistency.

MORE: D.C. United need a new stadium, now more than ever

United have the individuals to win games, DeLeon when he returns, Pontius, captain Dwayne De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy, young Brazilian DP Rafael, the list goes on. But small defensive errors have cost United big so far. 2-0 down after 11 minutes on Sunday against the Union, they fought back admirably to narrowly lose.

But if they keep putting themselves in situations like that, this rough patch Olsen’s men are having will elongate until the fall. And nobody wants that.

USMNT youngster Bill Hamid has been the only player to cover himself in any glory so far in 2013. And that’s because the ‘keeper has been working overtime due to lackluster defending. Only New York and Chicago have conceded more than D.C. and if Hamid wasn’t on song it could be much more.

Things can only get better for United and Olsen. Once a defense first approach returns, United should flourish. But like Olsen said, “If it’s not working, we will make changes.” You’ve been warned, guys.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
Leave a comment

Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

Leave a comment

France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]

Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?

Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina in World Cup qualifying

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
Leave a comment

Argentina took steps backward Tuesday in its pursuit of a 2018 World Cup berth, on and off the field.

It started as Lionel Messi was suspended four matches for verbally abusing a referee in Argentina’s Friday win over Chile.

Then La Albiceleste made another move in reverse with a shocking 2-0 loss to Bolivia in La Paz. Argentina started Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, and Ezequiel Lavezzi on the bench in what many presumed to be an easy win.

[ MORE: Three keys for USA v Panama ] 

Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins scored as ninth-place La Verde picked up its third win of qualifying with a win over powerful Argentina.

The bad news kept coming for Argentina (and Everton), as Ramiro Funes Mori left the match in the 36th minute with injury.

Bolivia will finish the international break at least 10 points back of the playoff spot, while Argentina could finish as low as that fifth-place spot.

STREAM: CONCACAF tripleheader concludes with USMNT

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
Leave a comment

CONCACAF’s bottom three sides in the Hex standings look to make the table incredibly tight as World Cup qualifying finds three-straight matches on the docket beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.

Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Los Catrachos were creamed 6-0 by the U.S. on Friday, and return home hoping a wounded Costa Rica remains vulnerable. Honduras is dead last on goal differential, but three points would be huge and put them level with Los Ticos. Costa Rica won its first two matches before falling to Mexico on Friday.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico

El Tri has two wins and a draw from their first three Hex matches, and will be without Rafa Marquez on Tuesday. A win guarantees Mexico the top spot heading into the next round of matches in June. The Soca Warriors surprised some with their 1-0 win over visiting Panama on Tuesday. Mexico is a different class.

Panama vs. USMNT

Despite its miserable start, the U.S. can find itself as high as second with a win and help from Honduras. The injuries remain plenty for the Yanks, who are without Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, Sebastian Lletget, and John Brooks. Panama has allowed just a single goal through three Hex matches, but also has only managed one.