After a bye week and a shake up in the locker room with the Silva-Saborio trade, D.C. United is ready to take on FC Dallas Saturday.
With plenty of time to train and adapt, United heads to Texas for its first regular season matchup. United played Dallas in the preseason and won the ATX Pro Challenge armadillo trophy. Forward Chris Rolfe scored the lone goal in that matchup.
Half a season later, both teams sit atop the MLS standings. United is coming off of a two week break, and FC Dallas is coming into the game with a three-game win streak, the latest a 2-0 victory over Orlando City. United must keep an eye on Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo who have combined for five goals in the last four games.
To D.C., nothing is set in stone. There is no time to sit back even when the team is in first place.
“We are under no illusions of what the standings mean. It means we have done a pretty good job up to this point.” Olsen said Friday. “The message here is if we are going to do anything that we are going to be remembered for, it has to get better.”
This week’s trade of Luis Silva in exchange for Alvaro Saborio from Real Salt Lake was a tactical move on and off the field that Olsen hopes will help raise the bar for team performance in the second half of the season.
“We looked around for someone who could make us better,” Olsen told The Left Bench before Friday’s training. “I don’t necessarily think I need to send messages to this team. For the most part they get what the challenges are. We felt like we needed to push the bar higher, and we feel like this does it.”
An obstacle for United this week will be the loss of goalkeeper Bill Hamid who is out with injury after two separate surgeries on his hand and knee. Hamid is out for the next 4-6 weeks. Backup goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra is up for the challenge.
“The approach is completely the same,” Dykstra said before training. “It’s nothing new to me, I know what to expect.”
Another obstacle for United will be the heat. Midfielder Markus Halsti spoke about the importance of resiliency on this United team in the heat of Dallas.
“Just keep going because we didn’t have a game and it is going to be hot there and Dallas is a really good team,” Halsti said. “We know it is going to be a really tough fight, so we want to keep the tempo high.”
As for the rest of the season Olsen says the team cannot slow down.
“We view ourselves in the top portion of the East and now it is a whole new chapter in this season. We have to get better or it’s not going to be good enough,” Olsen said.
D.C. United faces FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas Saturday at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast on MLS Live.
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