We aren’t the only ones wondering if United manager Ben Olsen was shifting a wee too much of the blame on the players for the death spiral that has been D.C. United’s 2013 season.
The players are wondering about some of the personnel choices – and I think we can all agree that a back-and-forth like this, a division of thought and unity, is not going to help anyone.
Olsen made two significant changes before the most recent loss, the one that matched a club record for winless streaks, now at 10 matches. Well, perhaps one and a half; Carlos Ruiz got his first start in favor of usual first-choice striker Lionard Pajoy, but that’s probably only a halfsie on the significant scale.
But removing Dwayne De Rosario from the lineup, that’s checks the box under “major move.” And it didn’t set too well inside some corners of the locker room.
The manager and his top player are trying to patch things up, but none of this moves United any closer to rescuing a season in free fall.
Here’s where it started: De Rosario told the Washington Post that Olsen did not believe the former league MVP and Ruiz were a good fit. “De Ro” indicated after Saturday’s contest that he was not one bit happy about it.
If you look at our track record as goal scorers, as creators, it’s not a bad problem to try at least once. … There is talent in this locker room, but I don’t know if we are using the talent to the best of its ability.”
Here’s the thing: The result wasn’t good (a 2-0 loss to the highly capable Portland Timbers). But Ruiz was quite lively, creating several opportunities with his movement near goal and typically feisty hold-up play.
In short, he was better than Pajoy or anyone else who has gobbled up minutes at striker while Ruiz languished and, eventually, wondered what in the heck was going on.
It does make you wonder what United’s season might have looked like at this point if Ruiz – yes, yes, I know, he’s not the name most MLS fans want to see – had been playing more regularly. Olsen has always preferred Pajoy for all the hustle-bustle defensive work off the ball.
But Pajoy has two goals in 12 games, among the reasons United is 19th of 19 teams in scoring.
So, it’s fair to wonder what things might look like with Ruiz, the best goal scorer at RFK, even at age 33, playing alongside the team’s top creator, De Rosario.