After last season’s three-win campaign, D.C. United understands the doubts, but has been ready with the answers. To reach 18 points from its first 12 games in 2014, D.C. United has responded after each stumble and will try to continue that trend against Sporting Kansas City Saturday at R.F.K. Stadium (Coverage starts at 6:30 on CSN).
United’s latest stumble was last Saturday in a 2-1 loss to first place New England. Using history as a guide, United knows how to recover. After losing its first two matches of the season, United responded with a five-game unbeaten streak before a loss in Portland. After the loss to the Timbers, United rattled off a three-game unbeaten streak before the loss to the Revolution.
Back in the conversation among contenders in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, United is in third place just one point behind Kansas City which has played one more game. Saturday’s match is another measuring stick for United in its progress as it faces a Kansas City side that is winless in its last four games.
- Beware of the defending champions. Sporting Kansas City is struggling with results, two draws and two defeats in its last four games, but not with its approach. Center back Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi are headed to Brazil with the U.S. National team. Sporting has adjusted to their absence and from its last two matches should have received more than two points. A late goal conceded against Toronto forced Kansas City to settle for a 2-2 draw. On Tuesday against New York, Sporting outshot the Red Bulls 8-1 in the opening half and held the Red Bulls without a shot on goal. Despite being the better team, Kansas City could only manage a 1-1 tie. Striker Dominic Dwyer is having a breakthrough season with 10 goals in 13 matches. Dwyer spent most of last season on loan to Orlando City. United will need to keep under control Sporting’s outside backs Seth Sinovic and Igor Juliao when they surge forward to ignite the Kansa City attack. Juliao was just brought in from Brazilian side Fluminense and has started the last four games.
- Continue to make R.F.K. a fortress. D.C. United has not lost at home since the first match of the season. Its last performance at R.F.K., a 2-0 win over Houston, was its best of the season from start to finish. In short, United needs to pick up where it left off at home. Eliminate a few sloppy moments (turnovers that have led to goals) this season and the Black and Red would be in an even better position. With Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell anchoring the center of the back four, United has a defense it can trust. Up front Eddie Johnson’s red card against New England was taken back and now he has another chance to get back to the form that makes him so dangerous. Johnson showed it against Houston and Saturday would be the perfect stage for another strong performance.