Two months into the season D.C. United is a part of the serious conversation in Major League Soccer. The talk about the Black and Red will grow even louder if it is able to extend its three-game unbeaten run against FC Dallas Saturday at R.F.K. Stadium.
After two straight shutout wins, United was able to secure a 1-1 draw last week on the road against Columbus for its longest stretch without a defeat since it went 5-0-2 in 2012. United is now on eight points from six matches and is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
FC Dallas has set the standard so far in MLS and is the league’s highest scoring team with the best record on 16 points from seven matches. Last week Dallas rebounded from its only loss this season, a wild 3-2 defeat to Seattle, to defeat Toronto FC on Blas Perez’s goal in the 88th minute.
1. Beware of the set piece. FC Dallas has scored seven of its league-best 17 goals from set pieces. Michel and Mauro Diaz provide the bulk of the service for FC Dallas. The crafty left foot of Michel delivered 12 goals from set pieces last season. Already in 2014 Michel has three goals and two assists. Diaz with his deadly right foot has been involved in nine goals. Last week against Toronto Dallas earned a club record 16 corner kicks and scored when Matt Hedges headed home a corner from Michel.
2. Better possession and better finishes. United still managed to grab a point in Columbus even though the Crew had more than 60 percent of the possession. In some ways it was a disappointing point, because United failed to get the important second goal and then surrendered a late equalizer. Like it did dealing with Federico Higuain last week in Columbus, United will have to disrupt Diaz who plays underneath striker David Texeira. In addition Fabian Castillo and Je-Vaughn Watson attack with speed on the flanks. The Dallas attack only adds to the pressure on United to possess with purpose and make Dallas defend. And the chances have to be finished. Dallas has yet to be shutout this season.