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Olsen Out? Villarreal Issues?

I'm getting word here in Salt Lake City that D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen did not make the trip. Hoping to receive confirmation from the club in the morning.

I am also hearing that the latest candidate for the MLS All-Star Game, Spanish club Villarreal, has been unable to commit to the U.S. trip because of possible European competition in late July. The issue now is whether the league wants to wait it out with Villarreal or pursue a different club. Without an opponent lined up to face the MLS select squad, all-star host Real Salt Lake has been unable to fully market the game. Villarreal moved to the top of the list after talks with Valencia ended.

By Steve Goff  |  April 11, 2009; 12:52 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS  
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Next: Matchnight #4: DCU at RSL


Let's just do MLS vs. non-MLS USMNT guys. That'd be pretty interesting, and their teams would be in the off season.

Posted by: carmines757 | April 11, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Olsen's absence, combined with Moreno's suspension, could complicate things for us. Playing intelligently and quickly in the middle of the field will be very important, since their midfielders all pinch in. Olsen's great at not keeping the ball more than he has to when space is limited; that decision making will be hard to replace. With RSL being weak on the wing, bringing the ball into the middle and then moving it back wide quickly is a great way to catch them out. However, that requires high soccer IQ, the first touch to kill the ball, and the passing range to give our wide men something to work with. This could be a chance for Jacobson to prove himself, but that's a roll of the dice.

I brought up playing 4411 in a previous thread, but with Janicki's troubles I don't know if I could endorse it now (since it would require McTavish or Burch as center backs, something I'm not really comfortable with). However, playing 3412 without Olsen is similarly risky (since midfield giveaways will leave us even more shorthanded with a back three). Jacobson might be able to deliver, but he might not. McTavish and DiRaimondo can do the defensive work just fine, but I would be a bit nervous about them getting caught in possession. Jason Kreis is a smart coach; if we're playing 3 central midfielders and one is clearly struggling on the ball (or just never able to play it forward), he'll do everything to encourage his midfield to funnel the ball to that player and force us to play through him. Now, with RSL playing 3 very attack-minded midfielders (and a DM that was once a playmaker in Beckerman), they might not be the best at this, but even a decent job will slow us down and make us less sharp in the attack.

Soehn has been left with some tough calls this week. RSL is weak on the flanks, but the 3412 lessens our ability to attack them there. On the other hand, any back four will leave us with a center back playing out of position (or Peters coming in, and he's very much unproven). Given the lack of experience available, I think it'll be the same formation with McTavish coming in for Olsen. If Fred can go for an hour or more, he'll play on the right (with Pontius up front; if not, Party Boy stays put and N'Silu or Doe partners Emilio). Until this team gets really fluid and Soehn has enough points to feel comfortable in his position, I think we'll see an emphasis on shutouts over goals...especially on the road.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 11, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

I've got a carzy about East vs West or (god forbid) US/Canadians vs World players. Or would that make too much sense?

Posted by: crewfanscott | April 11, 2009 2:26 AM | Report abuse

I've got a crazy about East vs West or (god forbid) US/Canadians vs World players. Or would that make too much sense?

Posted by: crewfanscott | April 11, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse


Whoa! I'm a soccer coach and you have my head spinning. Very heady stuff. Curious, why 4-4-1-1 and 3-4-1-2 and not 4-5-1 and 3-5-2. I've never seen it drawn up that way. Is it semantics or is there something different?

Posted by: croftonpost | April 11, 2009 2:56 AM | Report abuse

How about they they help their USL brothers and make it a MLS All-Stars vs. USL All-Stars? I think that would be a fun show...

Posted by: tphayden78 | April 11, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Wait. DCU had a plan with someone, they pulled out and now we're scrambling to make a new plan with someone else? Is it me or does this sound eerily familiar?

Posted by: Gavinmgraham | April 11, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Olsen this is not wholly unexpected considering his condition. United has to at some point give him some rest. I think a trip 3/4 of the way accross the country certainly qualifies for that.

However, as Chest stated above, this might move McTavish into his position and I don't want that at all. I'd rather roll the dice with Jacobsen. More size and has a pretty good shot from distance.

I'll just be happy if Soehn can manage to play Crayton in this match. The past two seasons Soehn has decided the away match at RSL is a perfect time to use the #2 keeper. 4-0 loss last season in Carvallo's only appearance for the team and a 2-1 loss two years ago when Jay Nolly was horrible and gave up two bad goals.

I don't feel particularly good about this game because of their recent history in Utah, that being said, a point would be huge.

Posted by: ARickey | April 11, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Crofton, it's semantics.

Posted by: Truck | April 11, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Just get rid of the All-Star game. It's a waste of time.

Posted by: whoshotsam | April 11, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"Just get rid of the All-Star game. It's a waste of time."

No doubt. I never watch it. We all complain about bad weather in March and weekday games, and they throw away a perfectly good weekend in the middle of the summer with a useless All-Star game. Argh.

Posted by: richcadieux1 | April 11, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

While I'm not wildly in favor of all star games - especially mid-season - they do serve a purpose or two.

1) Helps market the game to the casual or non fans. We Americans love the connotation of anything "all star" and we'll watch as such.

2) Better yet, this match gives all of the teams a break during the middle of the Summer. I bet most teams value this space in the schedule as time to heal, regenerate, etc.

Now clearly most Euro teams don't see this as a valuable expenditure of their time. This year, especially given the economy, pick a more local version of an all star line up (several possibilities are noted above) and do something offbeat with it. Go for the wow factor without spending a ton.

Posted by: 22206no1 | April 11, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Man, Chest, I swear, sometimes I think youre writing a book my man, especially when I'm reading it on my blackberry. That said, I always love reading what you write, it's sensical, thought out, and just good.

Well done!

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | April 11, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

""Olsen's absence, combined with Moreno's suspension, could complicate things for us.""

Moreno has hardly seen the pitch this season. How could his red card complicate things?

We'll miss Olsen, but Fred should be healthy and Tino should be able to give some minutes. Plus McTavish is back and we seem to be deeper than last year . . . it's not too complicated.

Posted by: delantero | April 11, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

MLS All Stars vs Mexican League All Stars?

Posted by: Charisma_Man | April 11, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

MLS All Stars vs Mexican League All Stars?

Posted by: Charisma_Man | April 11, 2009 10:00 AM

That would be heated and certainly would draw a crowd

How 'bout MLS All Stars vs USL All Stars . . . ?

Posted by: delantero | April 11, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the last minute update on Olsen, now to bench him on the Argy Bargy squad...

Cancel the Allstar game already and focus on mored important things like keeping DC United in DC.

Posted by: DadRyan | April 11, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

If you don't have this morning's paper, BUY ONE! The Lohmann feature starts on the Sports front page and continues to the all-soccer back page with Steve's matchday article:

Also interesting is Andrew Beyer's column on an SF Bay area entrepreneur who thinks he can rescue the horse racing industry by placing the tracks in urban settings. Sound familiar?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 11, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I have thought a East vs West competition was the best format for our current status for a while. It doesn't speak well of American players if the only ones who impact the game are foreign. Also, it leaves more spots open for American and outside choices. And who cares if all our best players can beat one European side? counterproductive.

As far as Olsen, this was always going to happen. And I think biting our nails over Jacobson isn't productive. When we have to turn to our bench, do it. Mctavish is a solid player, but Jacobson has more ability. Time to "roll the dice" and play the one who got away.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | April 11, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I'll have to look into, because UEFA has changed everything around again for the Europe tournaments. No more Intertoto, UEFA Cup is now Europa League...

Posted by: Reignking | April 11, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Ok...CL playoff starts 8/19, so VCF isn't worried about that.

The 6th place Spanish team plays in the 3rd qualifying round, which begins 7/30. There's your problem.

Posted by: Reignking | April 11, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Bolton so close!!

Posted by: Reignking | April 11, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Bayern has recovered.

Posted by: Reignking | April 11, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

MLS Allstars vs Mexican Allstars would actually work fine for me, and probably draw pretty well right? Hold it a week after the MLS cup in a warm sunny place, and I'd go...Hawaii, Miami, Cancun?

Posted by: DadRyan | April 11, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

What about AC or Inter Milan? Won't they be in the States around that time?

Posted by: PHXguy | April 11, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

@ I-270,
As another lurking right-wing kook,
I wonder if I can only buy the Sports section?
I have no fish to wrap or puppies to clean after nor rabbit cages to what to do with the rest of the rag??

Anyway......put Tino in the middle, Pontius up front, Fred right. Smack Tino a few times and tell him to make smart passes.....a stretch, I know, but maybe he can make it work. (Or Fred central with Q right...just as risky)
Jacobsen can be used to sub in later for a non-matchfit Tino. McTavish should be used wide to spell Fred or to replace Wallcae.

Posted by: googlio | April 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Googlio - maybe you can get a Krauthammer op-ed along with your fish wrap? The WaPo has been coddling right-wingers on the op-ed pages for years now.

Posted by: diego_r | April 11, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhh...fair and balanced, eh?

Posted by: googlio | April 11, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: universityandpark | April 11, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

How bout NOT having an Allstar game? I would rather watch the Home & Garden Channel with my wife than an Allstar match.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | April 11, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I'm a middle-of-the-road kook.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 11, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

xerez is 2-0 at the half. I still can't confirm that jozy did not make the 18.

Posted by: Reignking | April 11, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Stoke-N'castle turns into a comical WWF scene. The ref is distracted by an injured player on the ground, while players from both sides mix it up behind his back. All that's missing is someone smacking an opponent with a folding chair.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 11, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

xerez is 2-0 at the half. I still can't confirm that jozy did not make the 18.

Posted by: Reignking | April 11, 2009 1:26 PM

Isn't that a given?

Posted by: Brian76 | April 11, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

At least Edu went the full 90. All these guys need is a shot.

Posted by: Brian76 | April 11, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

ReignKing: have you checked Jozy's in-gmae tweets?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 11, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

How about this when the All Star match is at RFK we will do the USL vs MLS thing, which nobody will attend.

The All Star match has become much more popular since the involvement of an international foe. The problem is that MLS wants to do the match on the cheap and are pissed off they got left behind on the big four teams coming to the US this summer, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Chelsea, and even MLS partner Barcelona all are going to be in the states the two weeks before the All Star match playing in a "fake" tournament put together without involving MLS.

There are a bunch of teams that MLS and RSL would love to have but they either are part of UEFA qualification or playing in the Peace Cup. Because MLS so long was pushing for a cheap mexican team (cheap in cost not quality-so much). They simply lost out trying to get the price down, and now they are stuck without a quality team to bring in for the match.

This sucks because if they had simply let RSL do the negotiations and written a check it would have been done and over by now, but nope gotta let the "Don" you know the guy who wants to move your team, have his way.

I say time for Don to go away, no more should the CEO of SUM be allowed to also run almost every aspect of MLS, it is a total conflict of interest. Hint since he gets a cut from both ends it will end up being Chivas who is in the match. And most RSL fans will proably sell their tickets in disgust.

Posted by: f4denz | April 11, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Good choice leaving Olsen at home...that RSL turf would be murder on those ankles. I would suspect the same for when they head up to TO or Seattle.

As for the line-up, I think we should go with the old 4-4-2 in this one, not sure why we'd stick with a 3-5-2 and have McTavish in the midfield when he'd be better off on the backline. Push Pontius up top with Emilio and put Fred on the right. Leave Quaranta on the bench as a sub for now.

Posted by: mercurysnake77 | April 11, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Rio Tinto has natural grass.

Posted by: the_slammer | April 11, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I think Rio Tinto is natural grass. It was the old stadium that was rock-hard turf.

Posted by: b18bolo | April 11, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse


It's somewhere between semantics and being overly specific. I've found it helps people know exactly what kind of 352/451/whatever you're talking about. If I said 451, I could be talking about playing 2 holding midfielders and 3 attacking, or I could be talking about playing one purely defensive midfielder between 4 defenders and 4 midfielders. A 3412 is almost always what people picture when you say 352, but you occasionally get teams (like Houston last week ) who flip that central triangle, playing 1 defensive midfielder and 2 attacking.


Things just snowball. I usually come in with one or two points that are on my mind, but tactical approaches are like the economy: You do one thing, and it impacts everything else. Thanks for the compliment.


RSL is one of the few MLS teams that tries to play the way we do (with possession emphasized and not at 100mph at all times). The combination of losing Moreno and Olsen, at the same time, robs us of 2 of our 3 best possession players. I suppose it doesn't complicate selecting the team any more than last week, but it does complicate the task of getting some kind of result. Our opponents thus far have been direct (Chicago minus Blanco, Houston) and whatever you call LA's "everyone run hard and hope Donovan can bail us out" plan. We've always been better off defending by depriving teams of the ball; if RSL outpossesses us by a noticeable margin, I don't like our chances.

Jacobson vs. McTavish:

Playing Jacobson might make us more likely to win, but it would also make us more likely to lose. It's undeniably a more high risk/high reward move, and none of us are in danger of getting fired if DC has a slow start. Considering how other gambles in Salt Lake have gone for us, I think he plays it safe this time. In fact, I think Soehn will play it safe until at least June; points gotten in uglier games than we're used to (last week, for example) count just the same as points gotten playing jogo bonito.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 11, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I've been archiving all of Chest Rockwell's posts and plan to publish a book "Rockwell's Attacking Soccer: The Four-Four-Two Freedoms (also played as a 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1)."

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 11, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone tell me where I can find a live feed of today's game on the internet?

Posted by: rose-family1 | April 11, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

If you're referring to the RSL-DC match, then + $20 for a full season subscription.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 11, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

All that's missing is someone smacking an opponent with a folding chair.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 11, 2009 1:47 PM

Bobby Knight in the Premier League. The mind boggles.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | April 11, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

East v est All Star game is fun. Go back to that.

Posted by: Ron16 | April 11, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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