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United still searching for offense after tie

Attack sputtered against Galaxy

- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2011

D.C. United scrambled to salvage a tie Saturday against Los Angeles at RFK Stadium, collecting a point and ending a two-game losing streak.

Coach Ben Olsen, though, was looking beyond the 1-1 outcome and how it was achieved.

United couldn't muster a substantial attack for nearly the entire game, scoring only in the 90th minute when striker Charlie Davies barely made contact with Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez in the box to draw a foul. Davies' penalty kick - with United a man down - secured the tie.

Still, it wasn't a particularly sharp night for United (1-2-1), which managed four shots against the Galaxy.

"I'm happy we battled back and found a way to get a tie, but overall it's not good enough and that starts with me," Olsen said. "I think we were maybe fortunate tonight."

Fortune will only take any team so far, and Olsen was left reciting a list of ways his team must improve.

Chief among them entering Saturday's trip to Toronto FC was passing, something that could establish better cohesion than United could display against Los Angeles (2-1-2).

"We're not that concerned with other teams," Olsen said. "I think we have enough talent that we can concern ourselves with how we play. It has to be better. That's one way to take care of it, to make sure we're a better team."

The club's spark again was Davies, who has four of United's six goals to date. His comeback from serious injuries in an October 2009 car crash continues to unfold in a reserve role; he entered in the 53rd minute Saturday against Los Angeles.

Olsen said the 24-year-old trained just twice last week and that he understands Davies' eagerness to play a full game for United, which acquired the forward on loan from French club FC Sochaux in February.

"I'll go 95 [minutes]," Davies said. "I'm ready. I want to play. I want to play every minute. That's why I came to D.C. United, is to play and get all the time I can. Coming off the bench is OK in the beginning. Of course, I haven't played in a year and a half, so they want to ease me in and not just throw me out there for 90 minutes. At this point, I feel I'm ready to go."

While Davies' role off the bench wasn't a new look Saturday, Olsen made a few adjustments. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid made his first start of the season, and former Maryland defender Ethan White made his MLS regular-season debut and denied a critical scoring opportunity for Los Angeles after Hamid was drawn out in an attempt to collect a cross.

But offense lingered as a far greater concern as United assessed its result.

"Our biggest problem right now is we're not taking what the team is giving us," Davies said. "We're not reading, we're not seeing it. That's a big part, I think. If we were able to see the Galaxy were giving us the middle and we could exploit them that way, I think things would be a lot different."

Olsen offered a more wide ranging, general assessment. But both player and coach would seem to agree improvement is important as United ventures deeper into its schedule.

"We just weren't as sharp as we needed to be tonight," Olsen said. "The energy was there, but we just weren't a good enough soccer team."

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