Pressure is on Ben Olsen at RFK; one less headache, at least

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Looks like Danny Cruz, the young D.C. United midfielder looking for time this year on the wings at RFK, is OK after all. So says veteran Washington Post writer Steven Goff on his excellent Soccer Insider blog. If Goff says it or writes it, bank it.

Cruz had a pretty big scare the other night, felled in a preseason friendly by one of the tackles MLS has promised to crack down on this year once the passes and traps mean something. (Just four days from now, FYI. First kick, yo.)

X-rays reveal no fracture, which is good news for Cruz and for manager Ben Olsen ahead of Saturday’s test against Eastern Conference favorite Sporting Kansas City.  That’s one less headache for D.C. United’s second-year coach, who knows he’s still on the front end of a serious learning curve in his new profession.

Here’s something to know about Olsen, who, at age 34, is Major League Soccer’s youngest manager: It seems like he’s really feeling the weight of the domestic soccer world these days.

There was a time when Olsen was everything a journalist wanted. He was candid and always available, never one to hide or sneak away from the locker room early.  If his team stunk up the joint, he’d look you in the eye and say “Well, you saw the game. We stunk up the joint.”

But there’s a certain heaviness about him now. I noticed it when I talked to him in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. But I thought, “Maybe he’s just having a bad day. Maybe he’s dealing with a player issue that nobody knows about.” Heck, there are a hundred reasons someone may be a little ornery at a given moment.  Heck, maybe the dude was just hungry and wanted to get off the field and get himself a sandwich!

But then Taylor Twellman, ESPN’s lead analyst, told me he noticed the same thing last week when I spoke to him for our radio show / podcast. Taylor had noticed, too, that the pressure seemed to be raining down on Olsen like a Carolina spring storm.

Case closed. These are pressure-packed days at RFK. After all, the club hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007.

Let that sink in. Since 2007! That’s in a league where it’s always been, mathematically, harder to miss the playoffs than to make.