- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2014

After managing just three wins in 34 contests a season ago, D.C. United has overhauled their roster in hopes to compete for a spot in the MLS playoffs in 2014.

With new personalities and new faces, coach Ben Olsen realizes that an overnight turnaround is far from likely.

With the drastic roster changes this offseason, Olsen isn’t necessarily looking for perfection the first time the team takes the pitch in the opener.

“I don’t care who you are, if you throw seven or eight new starters onto a team, [chemistry] doesn’t just happen overnight,” said Olsen. “There are still partnerships and relationships you have to develop with guys around the field.”

United will get their first shot at a turnaround on Saturday when the team welcomes the Columbus Crew to RFK Stadium.

The preseason, where United claimed the Carolina Challenge Cup title with a 1-0-2 record, left Olsen confident – while still eager to see the team’s growth as the season goes on.

“Preseason can only gauge so much,” said Olsen. “We’ll really see [the improvement] this Saturday.”

Even with very little time to adjust and become accustomed to one another, expectations are still sky-high.

“A realistic goal for this team is the playoffs,” said Olsen. “Coming off of being in last place in the league, we can’t get caught up in anything but making the playoffs. We have a whole new squad.”

The influx of talent includes forward Eddie Johnson, who will be looked on to score goals early and often. Last season, United only scored 22 goals – with no player netting more than three. Johnson scored 23 for the Seattle Sounders FC over the past two seasons.

The expectations this season for Johnson are quite simple, according to Olsen. Johnson, who has had 62 caps and scored 19 goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team, will be looked on to score early and often.

“We need goals from him,” said Olsen. “That’s what he’s done throughout his career, and hopefully it will be no different playing for us. He changes the game and that’s something we were missing last year.”

Goals weren’t the only thing missing from the club a season ago. Yielding 59 goals, United had a goal differential of -37, tied with Chivas USA for worst in the league. With the addition of an entirely new back line, the hope is for the team’s defense to be a strength in 2014.

After acquiring defenders Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Jeff Parke and Christian Fernandez in the offseason, Olsen is encouraged with the “steady” play and strong communication the four have shown during the preseason.

While there a many new faces, Olsen knows that the old faces need to change things up in order to avoid a similar fate this season.

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