DCU faces tall task with Houston coming to town

DCU faces tall task with Houston coming to town
May 7, 2013, 11:45 am
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D.C. United hopeful to snap losing streak against Dynamo

D.C. United will kickoff against Houston on CSN+ with coverage starting at 6:30 on Wednesday.

Before he passed away at the age of 99 hall-of-fame basketball coach John Wooden shared plenty of wisdom in the form of his “Woodenisms”. One of his quotes, “be quick, but don’t hurry,” might apply to D.C. United as it prepares to host Houston Wednesday at RFK Stadium.

With only four points from eight matches, it is fair to say there is concern in United’s camp. There is also some comfort with three of four games in May on the home schedule. More importantly United has confidence with midfielders Nick De Leon, Chris Pontius, and John Thorington inching closer to return from injury.

It is likely DeLeon will be available for selection for Wednesday’s game against the Dynamo and Pontius went through a training session on Monday. Thorington also participated in training, but not in contact drills. DeLeon and Pontius combined to score 18 goals last season and were big reasons for the Black and Red securing a playoff spot.

To be sure as the Wooden quote suggests United wants to be quick. It needs to start working its way out of the basement, but is essentially only three games out of a playoff spot. To that end United should not, to go back to the Wooden wisdom, hurry. There is time and belief that even after a 3-0 loss to Columbus, United has the pieces to succeed.

“I thought we had good attacking stuff in that (3-0 loss to Columbus) game,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “I don’t know how we didn’t score. Well we did score, but it was called back. We had 21 looks on goal and so I am encouraged about some of things we are doing offensively.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes. The chances have to be finished and the goals have to start flowing. Central to United’s ability to score is time on the field for Dwayne De Rosario. He has dealt with a two game suspension and an absence for an adductor strain. United is not looking for De Rosario to do it all himself, but his consistent presence on the field should make a difference.

“This is not about Dwayne putting us on his back and carrying us,” said Olsen. “Dwayne just needs to be Dwayne. Over his career he has always been a player that has grown into a rhythm as he has played more games. I like some of the pieces around him and now it is about putting it all together.”

Long term United is looking forward to De Rosario, DeLeon, and Pontius being reunited on the field. Short term United has been encouraged by the development of flank midfielder Kyle Porter who is both good on the dribble and with his crosses. Porter is a rookie in MLS, but actually gained valuable experience playing in the NASL with FC Edmonton.

Also on the flank Olsen believes Marcos Sanchez has only scratched the surface of what he is capable of doing with United. The skill level of the Panamanian international is clear. Sanchez seldom gives up possession and he is precise with his connection on passes. With Panama, Sanchez also has demonstrated an ability to tuck inside and slip into a playmaking role.

As United looks to stop a five-game losing streak, it has to deal with one of the league’s best. The Houston Dynamo has made it to two MLS Cups only to lose to Los Angeles. On Sunday the Dynamo exacted some revenge on the Galaxy with a 1-0 win at Home Depot Center and are one of four teams at the top of the Eastern Conference table on 17 points.

The Dynamo secured the 1-0 win without perennial league MVP candidate Brad Davis, who was suspended with a red card. True to the Dynamo’s form they have quality in depth. On loan from Hearts in Scotland, midfielder Andrew Driver scored against the Galaxy, while another new comer Giles Barnes from Doncaster Rovers in England leads the team in scoring with 3 goals.

With Davis and his educated left foot expected back in the Dynamo eleven, United will have to be especially focused on set pieces. Three of the Dynamo’s 12 goals this season have come from either corner kicks or free kicks. Missed assignments on set pieces have caused problems for United and the Black and Red would be well served not commit unnecessary fouls.

“The break probably came at a good time for us,” added Olsen. “It gave us a chance to exhale. It is a balance. We still need to enjoy what we are doing, but also correct what has been wrong. With players coming back the quality has been better in training.”

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