D.C. United shuffling lineup in search of win
D.C. United is still waiting for the breakthrough to change the course of its 2013 season. The New England Revolution has already had that breakthrough. On Saturday the Revolution will be after its fourth straight win when it hosts United at Gillette Stadium.
Through the first ten games of 2013 the Revolution managed only two wins and six goals. The Revolution avoided further trouble by cobbling together three 0-0 draws among those first ten matches. Then the Revolution played a road game in Houston and scored multiple goals for only the second time all year in a 2-0 win over the Dynamo.
The win over the Dynamo seemed to be a turning point for the Revolution. On May 25 the Revolution returned home and delivered a 2-0 win over Toronto, but few league observers predicted what happened next. Last week the Revolution continued their stay at home with a 5-0 win over the LA Galaxy. That’s 9 goals in the Revs last three games.
“It brings the morale up, it brings the confidence up in every single player to take chance,” said Revolution forward Juan Agudelo. “Once the first goal went in, the goals just kept coming. I think it is unbelievable what our defense has done this year. They’ve kept us in the game. Once they don’t concede any goals, then it gives us a better chance of scoring goals, and that’s helped us a lot.”
In short United is looking for a stretch like the Revolution is enjoying right now. United has not had the benefit of the defensive protection that the Revolution has enjoyed. In 13 matches the Revs have conceded a league-low nine goals. United has allowed 24 goals in its 13 matches and given up the first goal in 11 games this year.
“We have to stay together and dig in, and try to get out of this situation,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “Not a lot is going our way but we still need to go about this in the right way. The goals hopefully will start to come and maybe some of the luck will start to change our way.”
United actually showed some improvement on defense in a 2-0 loss to Chicago, but were tripped up by an own goal and then conceded another when the Black and Red was pressing and the game had become stretched. Against the Fire United’s offense did not improve even with Dwayne De Rosario, Carlos Ruiz, Chris Pontius and Nick De Leon all in the starting lineup.
“I am still hopeful, ‘Olsen added. I am still optimist that we have the players to make something happen. We are able to have possession in their (Chicago) half, but not enough on target. We have to be more dynamic in the box. It is about everything. Our runs off the ball have to be better. Our service has to be better.”
Now the trick for United is to find the right combination of players to make the proper connections. The only serious threat against the Fire was De Rosario’s shot late in the first half that hit the cross bar. There are more options for Olsen to consider. Central midfielder John Thorington is back from a knee injury and Sainey Nyassi is in the mix on the flank
United’s defense which should have Ethan White back from injury will have to be ready for the Revolution’s high pressure approach. It is not a coincidence that the Revolution’s recent surge has coincided with the arrival of Juan Agudelo. In three games, all wins, Agudelo has scored two goals. Diego Fagundez leads the Revolution with five goals.
“They (New England” are playing well, but this is a really opportunity for us,” said Olsen. “We have to show we are better than we have been. We know we have to avoid allowing them to score first and then we have to consistently threaten to have a chance.”