Is this how DC United's season is going to go and if so, who is to blame? Numerous questions are arising in the DC United camp and whether or not changes will be made soon, remains to be seen. Currently undergoing an eight game winless streak, Ben Olsen now looks to the entire organization to take upon the accountability for the poor performances. As RFK was once a fortress, has been anything but that this season after a 0-4 mauling to the Houston Dynamo on May 8th.
The Black & Red sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference (1-8-1, 4 points) and sport a -14 goal differential. At the conclusion of their midweek matchup against the Dynamo Olsen told DC United.com "We lost the game. But, I was proud about the overall commitment and the way they went about things tonight. The spirit was good." Surely without Chris Pontius the attacking side of things makes it that much harder for the side to conjure up any potent attack; however, Dwayne De Rosario was finally able to break his scoring drought as he tallied off a set piece a few matches ago.
Who do DC United look to as their "goal scorer?" Well, credit to Lionard Pajoy for his continuous efforts featuring primarily alone up top and seeing out gritty performances, but he's lacking in the goal department. Yet, it is hard to knock Pajoy for his lack of goal output as he does not truly have a featured striker alongside him as both Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi exited DC United this summer. The void was suppose to be filled by incomers of Rafael and Carlos Ruiz who have at times added a bit of flare late in matches, but the entire squad has lacked with the clinical finish.
The Washington Post also contributes the lack of success from DC United is the lack of success from the star players of Pontius, De Rosario, and even Perry Kitchen. Of course, Pontius and De Rosario have both been plagued with injuries that have lagged over from last season, but the lack of linkage between the two has been poor. It certainly does not help the fact that Nick DeLeon has been injured – and certainly the transfer of Andy Najar has proven to be one of the weakest points in the DC United roster.
When things go wrong in soccer – everything seems to go wrong. Ten matches into the season and it already looks likely that it's time to either drastically turn the season around or expect big changes in the coming weeks whether it be managerial or from a players perspective. It's tough to say that DC United's late season push towards the Eastern Conference finals may have been a fluke rally around De Rosario's injury – but at this moment in time it's looking likely.
In the end, give credit to a fairly young DC United contingent, with Bill Hamid only 22-years-old as their anchor. Pontius is only 25, and the defensive midfielder of Kitchen is just 21. This lack of veteran leadership, especially in the center of the park (apart from De Ro) could be contributing to their lack of attack down both the flanks and the center of the park. We must not count out the Black & Reds as the season is in the grand scheme of things, relatively young. With Pontius, DeLeon and John Thorrington all soon to be returning to the lineup – all are intricate pieces to the puzzle heading into the All-Star break.
Where do DC United go from here? Up. The simple answer to what seems to be a fairly complicated matter, is that with the recent string of uneasy performances, United must compose themselves and rally around the lack of experience on the side. A perfect mix of both veterans and the youthful legs should be able to propel the Black & Reds past FC Dallas in their next match.
Time to get back on track. And the time starts now.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)