DCU looks to make their own history
When D.C. United takes the field this Saturday for the first game of their two-game Eastern Conference Semifinals series, they'll be lining up against a side featuring two of the league's top scorers in Kenny Cooper (18 goals) and Thierry Henry (15 goals). Thanks to the pair's goal scoring prowess the Red Bulls rank third in the league in goals with 53. In addition, Henry and company bring a wealth of playoff experience to the pitch.
"They've got more World Cup games than we have playoff games," said DCU head coach Ben Olsen. "It's a great group they've put together, a star-studded line up and they're playing very well right now. Guys like Henry are playing at their tops --he's playing better than I've ever seen him play in America."
D.C. United has not seen a playoff match since 2007 and not a single player from that team remains in the line up. For captain Chris Pontius, DCU's longest tenured player, Saturday's match will be the first playoff game of his career.
"They have experience and they have very good players," said Pontius. "I think as a team we've really come together these last few weeks. I think the results have shown that. We're a tough team to beat right now and I don't think anyone looks forward to playing us."
Though New York's roster boasts players with experience in just about every soccer championship in the world, the team is overwhelmingly top heavy. Two players account for 62-percent of the Red Bulls' high-flying offense. After Cooper and Henry, scoring drops off sharply.
"We've got a big job ahead of us," added Olsen. "But I like our team. We've got a good team, a good group, and sometimes that gets you past a team that has great individuals and that's kind of what I think is what this is about right now: it's a team versus some really experienced, good individuals and we'll see what ends up happening.
"Rarely in this league have teams been very very good on the offensive side and very very good on the defensive side. Usually it's been one or the other or a balance of both. I'd like to think that we're a balance of both right now, but make no mistake: their attack is real. They've got some offensive weapons and some real experience up there so you try to keep them off the board."
Olsen was a part of D.C. United's rich history --one that includes winning more championships than any other team in the league. Now in his coaching role, Olsen is ready for a new chapter in United's history.
"The past is the past here. I want to start creating the future and making some history of our own."