D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen confessed that he was worried about the relatively quick turnaround between Saturday's 0-0 draw at FC Dallas and Wednesday's 1-0 home loss to the New England Revolution.
"Dallas took a lot out of us," Olsen said matter-of-factly after Wednesday's loss, which was just the third occasion this season that United hadn't played a league match on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. "I was afraid of that. I was hoping that we could recover physically, but there were some zombies out there at times."
Olsen was quick to point out, however, that the physical toll was not an excuse for another home loss which ended the Black-and-Red's five-game unbeaten streak, dropped United's record at RFK to 2-3-5 on the season and lifted the Revolution off the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
"We put in a good effort for the [first] 45 [minutes], the goal didn't come, and then physically we tanked. I'm disappointed that we didn't gut through it a little bit more and find a way to get a result," said Olsen, who was particularly critical of the performance of his defensive unit. "Even in the first half, [New England] had some very good chances ... You get these summer games and they go back and forth and you give up chances. They did well with one of theirs and we didn't do well with any of ours."
Olsen's words were echoed by Chris Pontius, who pointed out that United had 24 more hours of rest than New England, who collapsed to a 3-0 home loss Sunday afternoon against Philadelphia. "That shouldn't be an issue for us," said the winger, who was subbed off after 71 minutes.
"I think [New England coach] Stevie Nicol will tell you they didn't put a lot into Sunday's game," said Olsen.
Charlie Davies' missed first-half penalty, which sullied an otherwise solid performance, was the evening's other big talking point. "I hit it good," said Davies, who had made all four of his previous penalty attempts this season. "It was pretty painful to see that go over the bar."
The striker also praised the play of New England keeper Matt Reis, who made six saves on the way to recording his fourth clean sheet of the season. "I thought we played pretty good," Davies said, but it was one of those days where the ball just wasn't going in the net. He's a pretty damn good goalkeeper, but there were times when we made it easy for him."
The night also saw the D.C. debut of Austin da Luz, who was acquired over the weekend in a trade with New York Red Bulls and played the final 19 minutes after being subbed on for Pontius. "I could tell in training that he's a very gifted player," Pontius said. "In New York, he was behind a lot of guys and couldn't get a lot of playing time. That's one of the biggest things for a young player is getting that playing experience, and I think he'll get that here."
United are back at RFK Stadium on Saturday night as they host English side Everton FC in an international club friendly. Kick-off is at 7:30.