A point is better than no point, but DC United still lacked a cutting edge at the weekend as Ben Olsen's squad were able to conjure up a 1-1 draw with a surging Sporting KC. On the night, DC United indeed may have not even deserved a point as Sporting KC's coach Peter Vermes was furious over a disallowed goal that would have given SKC three crucial points; however mistakes happen unfortunately. According to The Washington Post, PRO Executive Director Peter Walcott and even the linesman noted "It was clearly a wrong call and one that cannot be justified." The aforementioned call refers to Ike Opara's finish in the first half that was called back in which replays show he was onside.
Although DC's losing streak has ended at seven matches, struggles continue for the club in the 60th minute after an own goal by Ethan White – but thankfully for the Black & Reds, Chris Pontius was able to play a beautifully timed cross into the path of Kyle Porter who was able to convert for his first MLS goal, leveling the match a 1-1. Kei Kamara also had a chance near the end of the match to seal the deal for the hosts; however, Bill Hamid was once again equal to the task to finally bring a point to his side.
Certainly, three points would have been beautiful for DC United yet Ben Olsen told DC United.com "It beats losing." Ending this seasons losing skid could quite possibly springboard United into a string of positive performances and with a few players back from injury and finding their 90 minute fitness, a challenge for a playoff spot could be in order. Nick DeLeon was able to fully return to the starting XI for Olsen's squad, while Pontius also added attacking fervor as a second half substitute. While both DeLeon and Pontius returned to the lineup, Taylor Kemp also made his debut for DC and did fairly well in terms of retaining possession and connecting with Pontius. With these additional "game-changers" coming back to United's lineup Olsen told his teams website "Again things don't go your way, especially when you have a bunch of losses and guys doubt themselves a little bit. You've got to dig in and find a way to get results."
Are the results coming? DC's performance against a strong, tactically established Sporting KC side could aid in finding confidence within the squad. There seemed much more commitment in both the defense and attacking ends for the visitors with the likes of DeLeon and Porter added pressure in the midfield against Claudio Bieler and Graham Zusi whom largely controlled the match especially late in the match. Moreover, Olsen understand that although this point takes his side in a positive direction, he will not "sugarcoat" this point as he stated "There is a lot to work on. I'm not sugarcoating this tie, but again it beats losing." And it beats losing a job – as Ben Olsen recently stated that the future may be in the balance should United continue on this season performing poorly.
A cause for concern for DC continues to be on the defensive end as Graham Zusi was able to run rampant on Daniel Woolard along the right hand flank thus producing numerous corners, and additional pressure on a frail United back line. At the same time, Dwayne De Rosario was once again a tad bit quiet during the match and instead seemed to slow down the attacking menace of DC – thus losing possession and putting the onrushing DeLeon and Porter out of position during a turnover.
Last, but certainly not least – is the recent statements by the unused striker, Carlos Ruiz. The 33-year-old's playing time has been sparse since he joined DC United this summer, and reiterated via the media that he was completely fit and desired to help the club, on the pitch. However, Olsen continues to favor Lionard Pajoy over Ruiz whom like any striker, is experiencing discontent from the bench as he watches his side struggle week in and week out. As Pajoy continues to struggle in the attacking third, why not bring in an established frontman who can finish and add pressure to opposition.
Can DC United turn their season around, or is it too late? Is another string of poor performances going to be enough to force Ben Olsen out of the managerial position at the nations capital? Leave us your thoughts in the comment box.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)