Photo by ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
WASHINGTON — Luis Silva has made one thing clear since he’s joined D.C. United: He’s a playmaker.
The 24-year-old isn’t a striker, and he isn’t a winger, even if he’s asked to play those roles from time to time. As far as he’s concerned, it’s his job to pull the strings in the attacking third — something he felt he wasn’t able to do with Toronto FC before being trading to United earlier this month.
“Over there I was a little bit more up top, I had to be more aggressive,” Silva said. “Here, it’s a little bit more withdrawn. And obviously I feel that here my teammates look for me more. They play that ball in the middle, they’re not afraid to make a mistake, and I think that’s been helping a lot. I said it over there, I’ve said it here: If I get the ball, I can make things happen.”
Silva has bagged long-range goals in each of his first two games with United, remarkably putting him into a tie atop the scoring chart for the 2-15-4 club. And he’s particularly enjoyed the opportunity to put his creative instincts on display while having a team’s attack flow through him.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Silva said. “The expectations are higher, but obviously that’s my position, that’s what I like to do, and I just go out there and have fun.”
Added coach Ben Olsen: “It’s nice to have a player out here day in, day out, that is really enjoyable to watch in the way he expresses himself. I’m glad we have him.”
Here are some more notes from RFK Stadium on Tuesday:
DOYLE QUICKLY INTEGRATED
With just a handful of training sessions under his belt, recently acquired striker Conor Doyle was thrust into action Saturday, starting and logging 66 minutes in United’s 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution.
The decision from Olsen fit within United’s midseason revamp in philosophy, with the struggling club emphasizing youth with the acquisitions of Doyle (21 years old) via a league lottery, Silva (24) in a trade, Jared Jeffrey (23) through the waiver draft and Collin Martin (18) as a homegrown player.
“Ben mentioned it to me the day they got me in the lottery how he’s giving young people a chance and they’re going to stay with youth,” Doyle said. “That was really cool and really reassuring to hear. I think we’ve got good enough players here that, in the next year or two, we’ll be real contenders.”
Although Doyle is still adjusting to his new club, the 6-foot-2 target forward feels he has a good grasp on the responsibilities Olsen asks of strikers in his 4-4-2 system — particularly the high work rate pressuring opposing back lines.
“When I got here, they sat me down and had a talk with me and were specific,” Doyle said. “We did shape, which helped me out, and how we wanted to pressure and how we wanted to play.”
OPEN CUP PRESENTS BALANCING ACT
With United’s playoff hopes all but gone, the club’s primary competitive focus has become the U.S. Open Cup. Before D.C. faces the Chicago Fire in an Open Cup semifinal Aug. 7, however, the team hosts the Montreal Impact (10-5-5) in league play Saturday.
With just three days of rest separating the matches, look for Olsen to manage minutes against the Impact.
“Right now, it’s about preparing for Montreal and trying to get a winning mentality that will kind of roll into that important game Wednesday against Chicago,” Olsen said. “It’s a little bit of a balancing act on players and how I get everybody in a rhythm and physically read to go on Wednesday with the weekend game. That’s part of what we’re figuring out now.”
If United defeat Chicago, they will travel to face Real Salt Lake or the Portland Timbers in the Open Cup final after hosting rights were determined Tuesday by a U.S. Soccer coin flip.
HAMID GETS DAY OFF
Bill Hamid has returned to Washington after missing four matches because of U.S. national team duty, but the 22-year-old goalkeeper is not yet back at training.
“I gave him a day to stay at home today and relax,” Olsen said. “I’ve been through Gold Cups — it’s a long time, it’s a lot of travel, it’s intense. He’s earned a day off.”
So does Hamid, who did not play during the American’s Gold Cup title run, automatically regain his starting spot over Joe Willis?
“He hasn’t had a lot of games,” Olsen said. “He’s been doing a lot of watching, unfortunately. So he’ll come back and we’ll see what he has and we’ll see how sharp he is.”
RUIZ, TOWNSEND SIDELINED
Forwards Carlos Ruiz (groin) and Casey Townsend (foot) did not dress Saturday against New England and have not trained this week. Ruiz will be sidelined for “a couple days to a week,” Olsen said, while Townsend is out indefinitely.
How impressive has Silva can been thus far for United? Can Doyle make the same kind of impact? And should Olsen rest players ahead of next week’s Open Cup clash?
Share your thoughts below.
Silva is the real deal, I think. Hopefully he doesn’t pull a Rafeal, who scored long distance in his first game as well : )
Rest players and give experience, bring the a game for open cup.
Great write up, thanks Thomas!
Olsen is in way over his head. Kasper is too. Luis is right, FIFA manager skills are better than what those clowns have assembled. Has anyone looked to see the salaries of DCU players?!?! Lots of wasted money there.
How can anyone justify DC United getting rid of Marcos Sanchez after only a couple of months this season? All the guy did was play every minute for the Gold Cup runners up, which includes two wins against El Tri. He was a vital part of that team, and to argue that DeLeon deserves minutes over him is the height of ignorance.
And Ben’s “Americans for America” talk is laughable at best. It’s the same kinda attitude that’s got Chivas USA in trouble now. As much as I loved Ben as a player, he’s pretty much shown what he’s got in his coaching tank by this point, and it’s fair to declare him devoid of any “nous.”
Sanchez wore out his welcome here when he started whining. I liked him the first couple games of the season, then he started giving the ball away…oh and yes-he sucked at the Gold Cup too.
The cam parison to Chivas is overstated. The young Americans thing is a media ploy; even Benny said that.
Deleon is better than Sanchez. Sanchez was a “give the ball away in bad opportunities for opposing teams to counter” machine. Multiple times a game. He wasn’t spectacular or safe.
I was roasted for having this same thought. And who did we replace him with? Nyassi. Yeesh.
Fire that shmack now! you guys need a new coach.
I don’t know how culpable Olsen is for the talent selection on this year’s team. But the club has more or less admitted that this year was about reducing expenses until a stadium with a better revenue stream could be put in place. Ticket staff were let go. Kevin Payne was forced out and one of the owner/investors basically took his place (saving Payne’s salary). Other staff roles were cut. The team sold Najar and didn’t replace him. They let two other DP’s go (Salihi and Boskovic) and replaced neither. They let Maicon Santos go b/c they weren’t willing to him more. Then for improvements they added a budget Carlos Ruiz (he’s your foreign talent acquisition?) and no August purchases or signings.
Last year’s squad was a gritty, hard-working team that wasn’t anywhere near the most talented/skilled team in the league. Then they subtracted 3 of their 5 most skilled players (with the remaining two–Pontius and DeRo–missing a lot of matches due to injury). The only additions have been budget youth players. So as a result, the leading scorer on this team has 2 goals. That’s not about coaching, that’s about talent levels.
Basically, DCU this year is a USL team with DeRo and Pontius (neither of whom have had good seasons). And I think that’s a factor of cost-cutting
See below re Marcos Sanchez. And what about the Brazilians? Ben called one of them the best he’d ever seen, them promptly kept them duct-taped to the bench. But he gives minutes to Casey Townsend? Please.
Those are clearly two factors, but even given the players he’s got, Olsen is a poor judge of what his own players do. I think he expects all his players to play similarly to each other, and that’s not realistic. No one understands why Pajoy has started at all this season, why Riley is still on the team roster or why Woolard is still starting. Further, players who did really well last season (Kitchen, DeLeon, BMac, Pontius, for instance) have regressed. “Play harder, not smarter” seems to be the coach’s guidance to the team.
So while I agree with personnel and financial challenges, Olsen shares the blame.
Woolard starts cuz of injuries and his own consistency, Riley is doing a good job. Pajoy? You got me.
Whoah, don’t belittle the contributions of our promised big name striker – Raphael, who proved to be an unaccomplished, youth player who last like three games and not even half a season.
I’d do a better job recruiting players from a game of FIFA. We have the worst retention record in the league. While Benny isn’t the focal point for what’s gone wrong, he is a part of it and has been stubborn with players like Pajoy.
Simple fact: I’d rather lose with youth than lose with veterans.
JoeW, absolutely well explained. Tanks.
It may be true that the high-priced players are gone, but I’m surprised at how many goals DC is leaking. They kept their entire back six intact from 2012 through the first part of the 2013 season; they shouldn’t be this much worse defensively than in 2012.
Honestly, he should rest anyone that needs it to get ready for the Open Cup. If anyone needs minutes to get ready for Wednesday like Hamid or Kitchen or DeRo do it. The regular season is over. This is our only SLIM chance at hardware this season. It would be pretty wild to win the Open Cup this year give how bad DC has been. We’re talking historically bad.
Agreed. Surprised to hear him more focused on Montreal than Chicago.
Looks like the Chicago might be USOC Final bound
He sounded the opposite to me.