D.C. United prepares for match against Chicago Fire
With only 10 points from 19 matches the encore season to last year’s playoff run is not happening for D.C. United. It’s clear there are no easy fixes, but gradual changes are being made that United hopes will produce dividends Saturday in Chicago.
It is likely recently acquired midfielder Luis Silva will make his United debut against the Fire. Acquired in trade with Toronto involving allocation money, it is hoped that Silva will help spark a stagnant United offense that has not produced a goal in the run of play in 745 minutes going all the way back to the 1-1 tie with Sporting Kansas City on May 19.
“He (Silva) is a piece we have been missing,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “He will help us, but he can’t be the only guy. We haven’t scored, but we have not had a lot of chances. It is not like we are just not finishing our chances. We need more opportunities. He can help us create more attacking chances.”
With 8 goals United is last in the league in scoring. United is also last in shots on goal with 56 or exactly half of Real Salt Lake’s league-leading 112 shots on goal. Only three of United’s ten points have been achieved on the road and the points were collected with 0-0 draws including the Black and Red’s most recent game in Colorado.
Where will the goals come from has been a season-long question for United. Lionard Pajoy and Dwayne De Rosario still lead United in scoring with two goals each. De Rosario, with a hip injury, is listed as questionable for Saturday’s match. Pajoy’s approach in training has earned him ten starts, but on match day he has struggled to convert his hard work into production.
During the break from league play United did get a goal in the run of play in their 1-1 draw with Chivas of Guadalajara. Michael Seaton, who is on loan with the Richmond Kickers this weekend, assisted on Carlos Ruiz’s goal. With 88 career goals in MLS, Ruiz’s scoring pedigree and work rate is not in question, but he needs service.
The return of Nick De Leon, who has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, will give Olsen another attacking option. It is not clear how much time De Leon, who is still looking for his first goal of the season, will be able to play. Kyle Porter, the last player to score in the run of play, is also back in the mix after his time with Canada at the Gold Cup.
Another change for United is the absence of Alain Rochat, who was just acquired from Vancouver. After only five games with United, Rochat was transferred to Young Boys in Switzerland. Rochat’s departure presumably opens up an opportunity for Taylor Kemp at left back.
“He has qualities I really like,” Olsen noted. “He has a strong offensive engine and we have seen that with his crosses. There needs to be more growth on defense, but he is getting there with the physical part of the game.”
United will be looking to avenge a 2-0 loss to the Fire in Chicago in early June. That loss was part of the Fire’s six game unbeaten streak that has them in contention in the Eastern Conference. Defense has been an issue for the Fire. Losers of its last two games, the Fire has conceded seven goals over the last three games.
The Fire’s season was jump started with the arrival of forward Mike Magee. Recently named to the All-Star team, Magee has 5 goals in 7 games with the Fire. Now the Fire is trying to get its momentum back and like United is hoping to be in good form by the time the two teams meet August 7th in Chicago in a U.S. Open Cup semi final.
“We need to find out quickly who we are,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “We still want to win games. We have an Open Cup trophy to compete for. Before that game against Chicago we want to find out what our best lineup is. There is plenty to play for. This team like any family has had its fights, but has stayed together and hopefully will experience some joy.”