Despite losing 2-1 on an 87th minute goal by Ajax defender Vurnon Anita, a noticeably chipper Ben Olsen praised his team for having "a good day" in Sunday afternoon's friendly against the Dutch champions.
"We had a lot of guys who hadn't seen minutes [this season] who came on and gave us a good effort, particularly in the second half," Olsen said. In all, D.C. United dressed 20 players for the match, and with the exception of midfielder Clyde Simms and third goalkeeper Joe Willis, all saw some playing time Sunday afternoon.
"After the first 15 minutes [a period dominated by Ajax possession that saw the visitors score the afternoon's first goal], we started to figure it out," Olsen said, "and we were able to create some chances where, if we were a little sharper and a little savvier, we'd be winning that game. But we didn't."
Friendly matches between MLS and European sides, such as this afternoon's, are an oddity in American sports, as they require a league team playing multiple exhibition matches right in the middle of their season (United also host Premier League side Everton in another international friendly on July 23 at RFK). When asked if he considered games like Sunday's a nuisance, either as a player or coach, Olsen was emphatic.
"I always loved games like these," he said. "I think I had illusions of grandeur, that [the European opposition] would pick me. Here at D.C. United, we've always had the pleasure of playing some real good [opponents] like AC Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea. These are unbelievable experiences, and hopefully we went out there and earned a little respect today."
D.C. United return to MLS action with a road game at the expansion Portland Timbers next Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Olsen would not commit himself one way or the other regarding the health of forwards Charlie Davies (hamstring) and Josh Wolff (groin), saying only that both men were "listed as doubtful right now, but you never know if they could come back."