D.C. United makes deal for new stadium
Although D.C. United supporters probably had doubts, the sun did rise again after last Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Chicago Fire. In fact by midweek fans were walking on sunshine with news that a stadium proposal was in place for United to get a new home just a few blocks away from Nationals Park at Buzzard Point.
“Very few of our players have seen the process and struggle over the last 15 years to get a new stadium,” said head coach Ben Olsen. “Nonetheless it is an exciting thing for them and a little good news right now with this team goes a long way. Hopefully the positive energy from the stadium announcement will continue into Saturday on the field against New England.”
Olsen also knows it will take more than good news to make a difference in the home match against the Revolution. The approach and commitment has to be better. After a 0-0 draw on the road against Colorado and then a 1-1 draw with Chivas of Guadalajara in a friendly, United believed it had turned a corner. Against Chicago United was stuck in a cul-de-sac.
“The only positive I see is that I hope we remember what this feels like and I hope it never happens again,” said midfielder John Thorington about the loss to the Fire. “Didn’t carry out our game plan, not enough guys ready to do what it takes to win a game. It’s not just coincidence that we won two games this year.”
Uncertainty has been a certainty with United. Chris Pontius was a late scratch from last Saturday’s game against the Fire because of a tight hamstring and his status is in question against the Revolution. Progress has been reported in Dwayne De Rosario’s recovery from a hip flexor injury, but that doesn’t mean he is ready to go.
The inability to keep a consistent attacking group together has to be a factor in United’s struggles to score. A review of United’s lineups this season reveals a total of 17 players have been used in the front six, midfielders and forwards, of its formation. Injuries have forced changes and there has been a quest to find the right mix to trigger a slumbering offense.
Against the Fire newcomer Luis Silva dramatically ended United’s run of 803 minutes without a goal in the run of play. Silva provided the lone tally for United with a curling shot from 30-yards out that nestled in the upper right corner of the goal. In addition to his goal, Silva in his United debut also showed flashes of his distribution skills that are sorely needed.
“I consider myself an attacking midfielder,” Silva said. “I can score and I had my uncle, who coached me in youth soccer, tell me I should look to score more often. That goal was the best of my pro career and now I want to get my teammates involved too.”
Silva’s goal was only United’s ninth of the season. On paper facing the Revolution is hardly a tonic for a goal-challenged team like United. New England has only conceded 18 goals in 20 matches and is tops in MLS in defense. All seven of the Revs wins this season have been shutouts and the team’s 11 total shutouts is a club record.
“I think it starts from the front and then just falls back,” said goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. “We have been able to get pressure form our forwards and our midfielders have been in good spots. It then makes things predictable for us in the back. We are able to pick up key positions and communicate well.”
When United last played the Revolution in early June, New England was enjoying its best stretch of the season. A 0-0 draw then ended the Revolution’s three-game winning streak. Since the match with United the Revolution has dropped three of six games, but recovered nicely with a 2-0 road win over Columbus with both goals coming in stoppage time.
In his third season Diego Fagundez, operating from the left flank, is having a breakout year with 6 goals. From the center of the midfield Kelyn Rowe in just his second season is building on his successful rookie campaign and becoming more of a creative influence. With an improving offense and stingy defense the Revolution is now within two points of a playoff spot.