Those growing pains appear to have lasted exactly two games.
DCU lost its first two matches of 2014, but is unbeaten in five games since then. On Saturday, the team put together its most complete performance of the season as it dismantled league-leading FC Dallas 4-1 at RFK Stadium.
“It’s a good group and as I said before they’re hungry,” head coach Ben Olsen said after the game. "A lot of these guys have something to prove for one reason or another. I have something to prove.”
Olsen hung onto his job after an abysmal 2013 campaign, but after an influx of proven veterans in the offseason, it was clear the team needed to improve, and quickly.
With its third victory of the season Saturday, United has already equaled its entire win total from last season. And the team knows there is still room to grow.
“To be honest with you, we feel like we have a long way to go,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “I really feel like we can absolutely dominate teams from the beginning of the whistle to the end of the whistle.”
With the exception of a well-worked Mauro Diaz opener, that’s exactly what happened on Saturday night. Front and center in the performance was Fabian Espindola, an offseason addition from the Re-Entry Draft.
Espindola scored his third and fourth goals of the season against FC Dallas, and added his third assist as well. In 2013, DCU’s co-leading scorers for the season only reached three goals.
Boswell and Espindola were only a couple of the new additions who’ve played a key role for United this season, with Sean Franklin, Jeff Parke, Cristian, Chris Rolfe, Davy Arnaud, and Eddie Johnson also pitching in. Despite all the new pieces, DCU has gelled extremely fast.
“I think we came together because of the professionalism in this locker room,” goalkeeper Bill Hamid said. “They went out and got good professionals - guys that are dedicated to their jobs and want to see success for themselves, for their family.
“When guys are focused, things are going to fall in place as quickly as possible.”
"It’s a group of guys that have had success in the past in one way or another," Boswell added. "The guys that are here were one game away from MLS Cup two years ago and the guys that have come in here have been on successful teams with winning mentalities."
At 3-2-2 and with a five-game unbeaten streak, things are indeed falling into place for DCU. After an exceptionally quick gelling process, the team’s ceiling continues to rise.