D.C. United’s club record losing streak is over, but a 1-1 draw at home (even to a good bunch like Sporting KC) is hardly a clear sign that things are soon to be peaches and lollipops around RFK.
So where does that put Ben Olsen, United’s young, third-year manager?
It’s crystal clear now that United failed to sufficiently improve itself in the offseason, perhaps gaining a false sense of security from the club’s late-season and playoff run. When the loss of its top attacker forced the club to go defensive last fall, Olsen’s team stumbled upon a winning formula for the final sprint, finishing a goal short of an MLS Cup appearance.
But Dwayne De Rosario is a year older, the back line remains iffy and in demand of extra midfield protection, the young goalkeeper makes too many mistakes and … well, here’s a pretty good list from Steven Goff of everything that’s gone pear-shaped in a season of high discontent around RFK.
Not all of that is Olsen’s fault, although lineup selections and some of the personnel failings will always be attached to the manager. The other issue is how any manager handles the tough times – and a younger man has less experience in how to pull a heavy cart from the ditch.
Speaking carts in the ditch, Chicago started the year wondering about MLS Cup chances. Now, before June, fans and bloggers are talking about high draft choices, good positioning on future allocation ordering and other “blessing” from a season of bane.
None of which portends good things about manager Frank Klopas (pictured).
A trip this weekend to meet Real Salt Lake in Utah, where Jason Kreis’ team is 44-9-16 over the last five years. Two words: not good.
But Olsen and Klopas may enjoy some protection for their connections with the organization and due to financial situations, etc. Maybe. So let’s introduce a wild card or two.
In this piece, Goal.com’s Kyle McCarthy wonders about Ryan Nelsen … and it’s a good point.
The question on Nelsen isn’t about whether he will be fired. The first-year manager is clearly fighting with the shorter stick. But the season is quickly getting away from TFC, which is attempting to stabilize the listing ship through a series of short-term loaners. But if things get away from Nelsen and confidence in the rookie manager’s ability falls, well, there’s no good way to spin that one.
And then there’s Martin Rennie in Vancouver, whose club has won 7 of its lasts 31 contests. The Whitecaps backed into last year’s playoffs based mostly on a burst of April and May success.
Oh, and conceding late goals to nearby rivals? Yeah, that’s not going to help one bit.