New England Soccer Today

Olsen: Knockout Tilt Felt Like ’04 EC Final

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

It wasn’t quite Throwback Thursday, but you could hardly fault DC United coach Ben Olsen for thinking back to the past while Wednesday’s knockout match against the Revolution unfolded.

Eleven years after DC and the Revolution met in the 2004 Eastern Conference final, the former United defender was reminded of that classic 3-3 extra time win for United as he watched Wednesday’s wide open game from the technical area.

“I actually thought about that during the game,” Olsen told the media after the match. “It was like an old-fashioned New England/DC dogfight. It brought me back a little bit to the 2004 game. So yeah, a great night for us. A lot going on in that game.”

Indeed, there were plenty of thrills and spills during Wednesday’s showdown. Although the 2-1 scoreline might not indicate it, there was plenty of offense for both sides. In fact, DC nearly let the game get out of hand shortly after Juan Agudelo’s bicycle kick effort.

On a couple of back-to-back enterprising Revolution attacks, Kelyn Rowe looked keen to make it a two-goal game before Bill Hamid bailed out his defense with a pair of brave saves off his line to keep the margin at one midway through the first half.

“Huge,” Olsen said of Hamid’s heroics. “If you go down 2-0, again, and things start creeping in. You’re pushing the game now, and leaving yourself wide open, or more open then you should be at that point in the game. It’s just human nature, and Bill just makes two unbelievable saves.”

Hamid’s night was far from finished at that point, though. Moments before the final whistle, he was called upon to reach up and tip a point-blank Jermaine Jones effort over the bar to preserve the United win.

The final statistics also seem to agree with Olsen’s assessment on the intensity of Wednesday’s match. DC held a slim edge on total shots (14-12), while each side had three missed chances according to OPTA. Oh, and then there was that 76th minute missed penalty from Chris Rolfe, who subsequently redeemed himself in the 83rd minute when he scored the game-winner from the run of play.

“I don’t know if I’ve processed all of it,” Olsen said. “But certainly a gutsy performance from us, and a gutsy performance from them, too. That game in a lot of ways could have went to New England. I felt Bill early really kept us in there during that couple-minute stretch where they were all over us.

“We obviously had the two great chances with Rolfe and Fabi (Espindola) in the first half. And the second half was again anybody’s game, but I thought we still were the better team in the second half.”

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