Bad luck, missed opportunities, poor calls, or a lack of cohesion – whatever you'd like to call it, DC United are in a serious predicament and it's only the beginning of June. Ben Olsen made the simple point to MLS Soccer.com that "We have to stay together and try and get out of this situation." But where do DC begin? After a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Fire at the weekend with an own-goal by Nick DeLeon nearly ten minutes into the match, and Mike Magree tallying the Fire's second on the night. With the loss, DC fall to 1-10-2 this season and an even more astonishing fact is that in eight of those 13 matches, DC have failed to find the back of the net.
Give credit to the Fire however, as Sean Johnson was able to command his penalty area despite the influx of attacking talent into the DC starting XI. As Olsen opted to start Carlos Ruiz up top over Lionard Pajoy and an attacking midfield of Chris Pontius, Kyle Porter, Dwyane De Rosario, DeLeon and Perry Kitchen, the attacking venom was present but once again DC lacked the cohesion to break onto the scoresheet. As Ruiz continues to be utilized up top more and more, it seems as if it's only a matter of time before he and the rest of the Black & Red find twine – but when will that come? Olsen also indicated via MLS Soccer.com "The goals, hopefully, will start to come and maybe some of the luck will start go go our way. We had a lot of the ball, we had a lot of the passes." The former MLS player does have a point as his squad controlled 63% of the possession on the night, but simple mistakes and lack of the cutting edge in the final third is ultimately what cost DC to head home without any points, again.
Who is going to take a stand for DC? Surely, Olsen can only do so much form the sidelines and the rest lies with the starting XI week in and week out. However, De Ro doesn't seem to be accepting too much of the responsibility nor does Chris Pontius who is not taking away any of the goal scoring burden, so who is next, Perry Kitchen? Arguably DC's most consistent player this season behind Kyle Porter and Bill Hamid, although Kitchen is fairly young to the MLS – his play speaks dividends. On the defensive end of the match he is quite composed for a youngster in the midfield, especially as he dealt with the onrushing Magee quiet impressively.
The Fire were just too much for DC are Jeff Larentowicz and Joel Lindpere constantly drove crosses into the box – thus leading to the early mistake by DeLeon. Patrick Nyarko was able quite able to interlock with Magee who finally was able to blow the match open in the 85th minute after countless chances on net. Yet, the Fire were always going to be the favorites in the match as DC has only scored two goals in their past six matches, and haven't recorded a victory in their past 11 MLS matches. Certainly, their narrow win over Richmond (advanced on PK's) in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup may have proved a little bit of confidence but at the end of the day, in all reality United should have handled them quite easily.
We reiterate, it's only up from here for DC United. Quite a loaded statement seeing as obviously it's only up from here – no points aren't exactly "positive." It's hard to imagine that DC's last win was recorded back nearly three months ago, and from the looks of their poor luck, it may unfortunately continue. Even Chris Pontius couldn't draw upon any positives as he spoke to The Washington Post "No. It's another lost. It's been the most frustrating year for this team. Nothing seems to be going our way […] We've been trying to reset ourselves after every game. We have to figure this out. We have to figure this out." So the search continues – who will become DC's leader? Who will take away the goal-scoring burden? And will Ben Olsen keep his job much longer? With a side who seems too comfortable in their losing ways, DC United must overcome this adversary and redefine their season, before it's too late.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)