Kitchen, D.C. United desperate for a positive result
Tactics tossed out the window. The head coach yelling and screaming at halftime. D.C. United is desperate for a change and for starters the Black and Red will have to get off to a better start when it tries to stop a club record six-game losing streak on the road Saturday at F.C. Dallas.
For the first month of the season of United displayed the kind of grit and determination that helped it earn a playoff berth last season. Without Dwayne De Rosario for four of the first five games United still managed a win and a draw against three losses. It was not a dream start, but it was acceptable for a team that also lost Nick De Leon to injury on March 23.
In fact on April 5th United almost earned a point in Kansas City, but conceded a goal in the 89th minute in a 1-0 loss to Sporting. Since then it has been at the very least, messy. In each of the last four games United has allowed at least two goals in essentially the first half-hour of its matches including Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Houston.
“Most of all I’m disappointed in the lack of character right now,” said team captain Dwayne De Rosario. “I think when we give up two goals you get out-bodied, out muscled in a couple ways that are just unacceptable. We have to have one of our guys cleaning up somewhat. It’s just not there.”
After the loss to the Dynamo, head coach Ben Olsen mentioned having to “toss tactics out the window” when United fell behind 2-0 after 28 minutes. It triggered an Olsen halftime tirade that produced a positive start to the second half. In the final 45 minutes United earned 12 of its 15 corner kicks, but failed to convert.
“We have to make some changes,” Olsen said after the loss to Houston. “We have some part time players. I still don’t get how it takes a coach to throw things and yell at you to now play with aggression and with the right spirit. It’s mind boggling to me.”
The breakdowns were committed as a team, but also put individual players under scrutiny. Defensive midfielder Raphael Augosto was pulled after struggling to deal with Brad Davis in the Dynamo midfield. A poor back-pass by Dejan Jakovic that led to the Dynamo’s second goal added to woes on central defense highlighted a week earlier when Brandon McDonald took the blame for a loss in Columbus.
Then there is the offense which has been shutout six of nine games this season. United has only scored four goals this season, worst in MLS, and taken only 31 shots on goal. Rafael started over Lionard Pajoy at striker in United 4-2-3-1 set up, but did not threaten. On the flank Panamanian midfielder Marcos Sanchez still has yet show the initiative to make an impact on a game.
On the plus side Wednesday against the Dynamo De Leon, who scored 6 goals in his rookie campaign, returned to play 20 minutes. Fellow midfielder Chris Pontius is expected to be ready for selection after missing the last two games with a groin injury.
F.C. Dallas is unbeaten in its last eight matches (6-0-2) and with 21 points from ten games is off to its best start ever. Head coach Schellas Hyndman has developed a strong program in Dallas where it seems everyone is involved. Last season FC Dallas led MLS in goal‐scoring diversity with 17 different players finding the back of the net.
This year eight players have found the net for Dallas including two defenders, four midfielders and two forwards. Blas Perez leads FC Dallas with 3 goals. Brazilian midfielder Michel has two assists on the season and has been involved in seven of Dallas’ 16 goals.
FC Dallas is confident and connected as a team. United is not. A road win over FC Dallas, could turn into a turning point of the season. Olsen has promised changes to the lineup. Regardless of the starting eleven, United has to stop leaking goals in the first half and then there build from there to have chance in the game and in the season.
“Our fans don’t deserve this,” said United midfielder Perry Kitchen. “Our organization doesn’t deserve this. Hopefully we can just get one win and that can turn into something, but you know at this point, tough game, tough stretch. We just have to stick together and try to get something out of the next game.”