DC United will look to turn their season around on April 27th at Crew Stadium as the Columbus Crew will look to take another three points away from the visitors. These two clubs previously met on March 23rd, where DC United fell 1-2 at RFK Stadium – marking the beginning of what has been a four match losing streak. Sitting on just four points from a possible 21 so far this season, Ben Olsen is going to need a full 90 minute heart-felt performance from every member that steps onto the pitch.
Midweek, Olsen indicated that the string of inconsistent performances is quite unsettling and that the fate of their season now rests on the players. Olsen told The Washington Post "I have analyzed this [coaching] staff and myself for the last three weeks. I have put [the assistants] under a microscope, maybe even before I put the players, but I am done with that. It is on the players now. I am going to put them under a microscope." The United manager is fairly accurate with his statement as the former MLS player has shuffled and reshuffled the lineups, brought in new players and even tried different attacking schemes – yet nothing seems to be working well enough to bring the nations capitol a vital three points.
Although DC United have struggled immensely in the past month, the manager also has remained positive that his his scheme is not working "we will make changes. I believe in the group, but maybe it's not the players on the field. Maybe [the answer is the] guys who are waiting." The frustration is mounting in the DC United camp, and rightly so as the core players for the Black & Red have simply not been playing their best soccer. Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario have both been missing in key stretches of matches, and more importantly, Pontius looks lost. As the young midfielder drifts wide thus allowing for more movement in the center of the park for the Canadian, a lack of offensive pressure is devastating as crosses have gone begging and darting runs into the box have gone widely missing.
In the grand scheme of this young MLS season, DC United have certainly struggled in the injury department. Captain De Rosario has missed a few matches with suspension and injury, while John Thorrington, Lewis Neal and Nick DeLeon have all suffered knocks so far this season which has kept them out of the lineup for extended periods. Furthermore, although DC seems to be missing these aforementioned injured players, the transfer of Andy Najar could possibly be a tough spot to fill. As Najar would dart forward and alleviate pressure from the DC United back line while also supply inch-perfect crosses to the frontrunners – Chris Korb, Robbie Russell, and Daniel Woolard have all yet to stand out above one another.
Against the Columbus Crew, it could be a possibility that Olsen employs Pontius in a further advanced position to get him more looks at goal. Pontius could be better pressed to help Lionard Pajoy up front who seems to be Olsen's number one striker despite his lack of goals this season. And as DC United look to turn around their offensive struggles against the Crew, the home side will also look to break down the DC United back four. Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic have been fairly solid in the back (disregarding Jakovic's giveaway on Sunday) and will likely have many questions asked in the upcoming matchup. Josh Williams and Tyson Wahl are going to be crucial as both hope to join the Crew attack and get past Saragosa and Perry Kitchen who will most likely sit above the top four – and will also rely on Danny O'Rourke and Augustin Viana to supply the attacking pressure from wide areas. At the same time, Federico Higuain punished DC United in their first meeting and is completely capable of doing the same this weekend as the forward is one of the most instrumental players in the MLS.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)