The World Cup is about to start and most of Major League Soccer is on a break. D.C. United is still at work and is probably eager to get back on the field Wednesday in Montreal and atone for a tepid offensive performance in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m. on CSN).
The Impact is in last place in the Eastern Conference on 12 points form 10 matches and have only scored 11 goals, ranked last in MLS. Despite the Impact’s overall form there have been encouraging signs including a 2-0 win over New England and a second straight Canadian Championship to book a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
United knows better than to focus on the Impact’s league standing. Back on May 17 the Black and Red needed a late goal form Eddie Johnson to salvage a 1-1 tie against the Impact at R.F.K Stadium. United head coach Ben Olsen believes the Impact has the talent to have one of the better offenses in the league.
- United needs to find its rhythm again on offense. With six shutouts in its last 11 games there is little concern about United on defense. Even the effect of an injury to center back Jeff Parke was minimized when rookie Steve Birnbaum turned in a stellar performance in Saturday’s game against Columbus. With a high press United flirted with creating danger against Columbus, but failed to come up with the moment needed in the final third. Too many times well-timed runs were not rewarded with passes. United only has two goals in its last three games and one of those was Fabian Espindola’s “wonder cross” in a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. The commitment is there and now the understanding between the players in attack needs to return.
- Beware of the Impact’s counterattack. In the previous meeting between the two teams United did a good job of limiting the Impact on the counter, but a costly turnover led to a goal from striker Jack McInerney. In its last league game the Impact turned in its best performance of the season with a 2-0 win over the Revolution. True to its game plan the Impact created several chances from turnovers and received goals from McInerney and Andres Romero. Marco Di Vaio is back healthy. Di Vaio plays below McInerney and is capable of playing the ball that unlocks the opposition’s defense. From Toronto the Impact added Issey Nakajima-Farran and he has been dangerous on the flank.