National Commitments Create a Temporary Void on United

Article excerpt

Just when it looked like D.C. United found a player who can provide leadership, create, finish and get the team moving in the right direction, the U.S. Olympic team comes calling and whisks him away.

Midfielder Ben Olsen helped United, Major League Soccer's defending champion, avoid an embarrassing 0-3 start to the season Saturday night when he had an assist and a goal during injury time to rally his team to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Fire. However, United (1-2) will have to build on that success without the services of Olsen.

The midfielder and forward Chris Albright leave today for a week-long training camp with the U.S. Olympic team in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They will miss United's next three matches as they prepare for and play in the Olympic qualifying, which runs April 21-30 in Hershey, Pa.

"Unfortunately, country comes before club," Albright said. "That's just the way it is."

United's young stars will be missed, especially Olsen. In a little more than a minute, Olsen, 22, led United to what might have been the greatest come-from-behind victory in club history.

Trailing 2-1 and with precious seconds ticking away in injury time and during a torrential downpour, Jaime Moreno converted an Olsen corner kick and tied the game 2-2 in the 92nd minute. One minute later, Olsen's left-footed blast from inside the box found the upper right corner. Game over.

"At that point [of the game], you really just shoot on goal and hope for the best on the far side," Olsen said of delivering United its first win of the season.

Olsen's assist on Moreno's tying goal was like his game winner - hope for the best. From the left corner, Olsen struck the ball toward the far post. Moreno headed Olsen's offering into the post and then tapped in the rebound. Olsen said the Moreno goal was not scripted.

"Nope, it wasn't a set play," Olsen said. …