It has been a rough start to the 2016 for D.C. United, with an early exit from the CONCACAF Champions League coupled with a slow start to the MLS campaign. With several new players in the side for 2016 though, United manager Ben Olsen isn't quite yet ready to shake up his team in search of results as the team tries to learn how to work with each other.
"First of all, we're two wins out, six points behind the first place team in the East," Olsen told reporters on Tuesday. "So I think it's premature to start changing things too drastically. If you watch that Toronto game from front to back, and you think there need to be wholesale changes to this group right now, I would completely disagree."
With seven games gone from the MLS schedule, the lone win remains a 4-0 thrashing of the Vancouver Whitecaps, which came at an opportune time to face the 'Caps, who were missing Matias Laba and Pedro Morales.
Other than that, bright performances during certain games have been overshadowed by momentary lapses, by early goals, and missed opportunities.
So instead of wholesale changes, trying new players at positions when it seems that United is on the verge of breaking through, Olsen has opted for more subtle changes. Changes in the way the team is set up, or how they are meant to work together on the field.
"Tweaks are made throughout the week. It doesn't necessarily have to be personnel all the time. There's work being done behind the scenes," said Olsen.
And what might those tweaks be?
"Being a little bit better in the final third. Whether it's from an idea standpoint, repetition, as simple as crossing and finishing, showing them on film where we can be more committed in the box, where we can have more hunger, and have our own luck in and around the box."
Against Toronto FC, United were in control throughout the match, maintaining a majority of the possession, and creating more of the scoring opportunities throughout 90 minutes. The only problem was that Sebastian Giovinco scored before a minute was on the clock, and United's inability to convert their chances meant a third loss in the first 7 games.
Conceding early goals during the 2015 season was an issue for United, even though they were able to turn some of those early deficits into points. That hasn't been the case thus far in 2016, with the goal against Queretaro in Champions League play a mere consolation, while FC Dallas, along with Toronto, turned their early goals into three points at RFK Stadium.
"It weighs on your mind. You keep thinking about it, the best thing is we need to not think about it. We need to not think, here we go again," winger Patrick Nyarko told B&RU on Tuesday. "If we can do it from the 2nd minute to the 90th minute, why not from the 1st minute from the 90th? Every single minute counts, and we can't have lapses in concentration like that."
"Preventing early goals will help us [win games.] Early goals allow teams to bunker down," Nyarko added. "It's tough to break down a team that has 8 or 9 players behind the ball. It's a mentality."
As such, Olsen remains committed to getting his current set up - the 11 that have started the past two games - back to winning ways. It just might take a bit longer than others may have hoped.
"We ultimately have to find ways to get wins. I just think it's too early to start changing things up in any drastic way."