Reality Bites DC in RFK

After the fantasy win Tuesday night in Salt Lake to win the US Open Cup, United came back to earth as their dismal league season continued with a painful 3-0 loss to the visiting Chicago Fire, United’s 22nd loss of the 2013 campaign which ties a league record for futility in a single season.
With a mixed lineup and perhaps carrying a glimmer of the enthusiasm from their improbable 3rd US Open Cup win, DC started the match quite brightly and barely missed a couple of excellent chances in the opening 20 minutes of the game.
DC would come to rue those early missed opportunities as the Fire stole the lead against the run of play in the 24th minute when Fire forward Juan Luis Anangono ghosted past DC defenders James Riley and Daniel Woolard like they were cones and slipped the ball in to Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz storming deep into the box on a late run that wasn’t picked up. The Fire hard man cooly slid past DC keeper Joe Willis and snuck in a wicked shot from a very tight angle to score the winner for the Fire.
The Fire essentially sealed the win with their second goal two minutes later after a Fire freekick fooled Joe Willis and fell to Fire defender Bakary Soumare to blast into the empty net to give the Fire a 2-0 lead and cast a pall over the RFK faithful.
United rallied to create ever more chances with some very lively attacking efforts rarely seen this season, but the Fire keeper Sean Johnson was up to the challenge with a few spectacular saves. Johnson denied DC forward Conor Doyle with a diving save and later sprawled to stop a blast from DC midfielder Nick DeLeon who had burst into the box to shoot from close range.
In the second half, Johnson made his best saves of the match on a wild effort in the 60th minute. Diving out to deflect a cross through the box from United forward Dwanye De Rosario, the ball fell right to DeLeon who saw his snap shot incredibly deflected by the quick recovering Johnson. DeLeon was denied again spectacularly in the 76th minute when Johnson again dove to stop a clever shot from the United midfielder.
Drained and defeated by the end, United gave up a final goal to second half substitute, Quincy Amarikwa who scored a lovely diving header from a precise cross from Dilly Duka in the 89th minute to fish off the Fire’s 3-0 win.
Already a team record 22 losses on the season, United has now tied the 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny for the most loses in a season in league history. The Mutiny’s epically bad season ended with a record of 4-22-4. United has 3 more matches to try and elevate themselves above being the worst team in MLS history.
DC also saw its current winless streak stretch to 9 games. DC is 0-7-2 over that span. The loss also guarantees United will finish dead last in the league as Toronto and Chivas sit 11 points ahead of United with 3 games left in the season.
United hosts the Philadelphia Union next Saturday night October 12 at 7PM.

A Stadium, at Last?

The rumors have been floating around the interwebs for the past few days, and yesterday the flood gates opened.  Earlier today DC United and the DC Government signed a term sheet agreement to build a new soccer specific stadium at Buzzard Point, adjacent to Fort McNair on the confluence of the Potomac and the mighty Anacostia. Just a stone’s throw away from the Capitol and Nationals Park.

This, says Mayor Gray, “is the final piece in the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative puzzle that, when complete, will create the most vibrant and sustainable sports-and-retail district in America.”

Please forgive me for not jumping up and down and crying tears of joy – which I should be doing – after all I’ve been following this team since day one. But, like so many of you, I have heard all of these things before. So, until I see the shovel hit the ground I’ll remain a skeptic.

Let’s look back…

Remember this one? The Poplar Point Concept

By 2005 United was on the verge of building a stadium in Poplar Point (left), remember? United took their stadium initiative to the streets. They not only convinced Marion Barry that a soccer specific stadium in his ward would be beneficial, but they also had the ward 8 community behind them. The promise of new affordable housing, along with new retail, jobs, and economic development was something that the East side residents had seldom been offered. They were ready, so were we…

That effort was the culmination of years of work by Kevin Payne and the the Anschutz Entertainment Group and culminated with a promise by then DC Mayor Anthony Williams that the team would have a new home by the 2007 season.

In the meantime, Anthony Williams was also working feverishly and bending over backwards to get a Major League Baseball (MLB) team into the city. He got his wish and in 2005, the MLB team begin play at RFK stadium, United’s home. The Black-and-Red did not get the promised stadium, and instead watched as the MLB franchise used “their” facility for three seasons as the city coughed up the money to build that same team a state of the art facility on the river front. In 2008 United finally saw their co-tenants move out to National’s Park.

That baseball stadium left District residents with a foul taste in their mouths (some are still trying to wash it out.) Tax payer money was used to finance a project who’s cost nearly doubled and which saw very little economic development (at least when it was initially finished) for the city, so naturally, no one in DC wanted to hear talk about “another” stadium…

United kept trying, but talks with the city stalled, so the team began efforts to move to Prince George’s County.

In 2009 new co-owner Victor McFarlane, frustrated with the lack of progress in DC, pushed forward and worked with Prince George’s county to move the team to Maryland. But, like talks with DC, the measure stalled in the Maryland Assembly and ultimately died.

By 2010 MLS commissioner Don Garber began expressing the frustration DC United officials and fans had been feeling for years. He wondered out loud “how it was possible that DC Government officials could take so long to make a decision on a home for DC United?” The criticism was followed with yet another announcement about moving the team, although not by DC United. The Maryland Stadium Authority conducted a study on their own to woo our franchise to the Baltimore Waterfront. United officials certainly appreciated the gesture, but thankfully have remained focused on something happening  in DC.

So, that brings us to today.

The Buzzard Point location (below) came up in early 2011. Kevin Payne began talking about several sites in DC with DC Officials; and Buzzard Point rose to the top as the most viable. And now, after over two years, we have the term sheet agreement.

Stadium District Site Plan (1)

However, although the City and United have signed an agreement, there is still much to do.

For starters, the District still has to cough up $150 million in infrastructure and other expenses (United will pay to build the stadium – another $150 million.) DC Officials will also have to make a series of land and property deals in order to secure the complete parcel for the stadium. Pepco, the development firm Akridge and Mark D. Ein hold deeds to very valuable land. The city will have to offer some sweet deals in return and I’m sure the three land owners mentioned will do their best to get the most for their properties – hopefully that will not be a major hurdle. Finally, there’s the DC council and DC residents who undoubtedly have the Nationals’ Stadium debacle still fresh in their memories. Will that experience sour the mood for this deal? Hopefully not.

So, you see why I remain somewhat skeptical and why I say: “Until I see a bulldozer moving earth I will not be dancing in the streets.” Here’s to a positive outcome so that we can finally have the facility this team deserves – it will make this season’s suffering more manageable…

 

 

 

DC Scrapes by Richmond Kickers to Advance in the US Open Cup

A dreadful DC performance was rewarded with a 4-2 victory on penalty kicks after a scoreless match when goalkeeper Joe Willis saved the first two Kickers penalty kicks while DC made all four of their attempts to allow them to advance to the next round in the US Open Cup.

Playing a majority of their starters, DC United struggled mightily to mount any kind of threat on the Richmond goal while their lower division affiliate played with much more control and precision only to be denied in the final third from some stellar play by backup keeper Joe Willis.

In the 17th minute, Richmond midfielder Stanley Nyazamba deftly split DC’s defense sending in former DC Academy player Michael Seaton who is on loan to Richmond in on goal and only a fantastic smother by Willis coming off his line saved United from giving up yet another early goal.

A few minutes later another well-orchestrated Richmond attack was thwarted as Nyazamba and Joseph Ngwenya worked the ball far post to midfielder Nate Robinson for an open look at goal only to see him scuff his shot slightly allowing for Willis to recover and block the shot.

Finally, DC showed some spark in the attack and a couple of lovely corner kicks featured in the United threats on goal. Historically inept at corner kicks in the modern era of soccer, DC United managed to hit the woodwork twice and barely miss another attempt wide in the late stages of the first half.

First in the 31st minute, it was Kyle Porter with a CK right on Lionard Pajoy’s head that he managed to clang off the top of the crossbar, then a few minutes later in the 35th minute, United defender Chris Korb struck a lovely cross to a wide open Dwayne De Rosario at the far post in front of an open goal, but United’s captain hashed up the header off the far post and the ball fell right to Richmond keeper Andrew Dykstra.

Just before halftime, DeRo stripped a Richmond defender and appeared to in on goal only to be muscled off the ball. However, the recovering defender was forced to pass the ball back toward the Richmond goal and only a late scramble by Dykstra to clear it off the line saved an own goal. On the ensuing corner kick, DC again found an open man in defender Conor Shanosky, who had a stellar match in central defense, but his diving header flashed past the near post just wide.

DC’s attack withered in the second half and it was pretty much all Richmond the rest of the way, but Willis was to be the man of the match keeping the Kickers scoreless despite relentless pressure.

In the 50th minute, Willis came out to snare a deadly cross away from Richmond defender William Yomby. In the 55th minute, Richmond again pinged the ball around DC’s defense pulling them apart expertly to allow Nyazamba to burst up through the middle in on goal only for Willis to snuff out the attack coming off his line perfectly.

Again late in the match, Willis came up big as Nyazamba, who was a thorn in DC’s side all night kept an attack alive cleverly and slid a ball to defender Jason Yeisley storming into the DC box, but his point blank shot was well covered by Willis.

Late in the match, a clearly tired DC gave up a few hideous fouls around the box that allowed Richmond some potentially deadly free kicks, but fortunately for United Richmond couldn’t manage a single threat on goal from any of them. So, for the second year in a row, DC headed to overtime in Richmond in the opening round of the Open Cup.

Overtime was much of the same as DC couldn’t control the ball at all, while Richmond continually probed United’s increasingly tired defense. The pressure ended up being too much for United’s Chris Korb as he yanked down a Richmond attacker after getting caught on the wrong side and he was tossed for his second yellow leaving United with ten min for the final twelve minutes.

It got worse two minutes from full time as substitute Carlos Ruiz was also sent off for a reckless challenge from behind. Down to nine men, DC just held on for the penalty kicks after the 30 minute overtime period.

United’s fortunes shifted dramatically in the penalty kicks as Keeper Joe Willis dove to his left to stop the first two spot kicks from Sascha Gorres and Ngwenya sandwiched around a DeRo finish to put United up 1-0. Perry Kitchen made it 2-0 easily, and even though Richmond answered with a goal from Luke Vercollone, Nick DeLeon thundered a shot into the upper 90 that left the Kickers dangling by a thread. Nate Robinson kept them alive with a savvy shot down the middle, but James Riley sent DC into the next round with a cool finish to give DC an insurmountable 4-2 PK victory.

United will host the Philadelphia Union June 12 at 7 PM in Germantown at the socccerplex in the next round of the Open Cup.

Lineups:
Kickers: GK Andrew Dykstra, Henry Kalungi, Shane Johnson (Matthew Delicate – 69’), William Yomby, Luke Vercollone, Michael Seaton (Juan Arbelaez – 60’), Mike Callahan, Stanley Nyazamba (Sascha Gorres – 60’), Nate Robinson, Jason Yeisley, Joseph Ngwenya
D.C. United: GK Joe Willis, Daniel Woolard, James Riley, Chris Korb, Raphael Augusto (Chris Pontius – 58’), Perry Kitchen, Conor Shanosky, Nick De Leon, Kyle Porter (Sainey Nyassi – 91’), Dwayne De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy (Carlos Ruiz – 80’)

DC Might Have a Problem with Houston

Currently bottom of the table and mired in a five game losing streak with seeming nothing but misery in sight, DC United will have to find something special as they face one of their toughest conference foes in the high flying Houston Dynamo who are off to their best start ever and tied for the top of the East.

OK folks, Chris is out of town this week, so I will be setting up the crime scene in RFK and then conducting the autopsy tomorrow night, so buckle up! If you’re looking for a ray of sunshine or some lipstick on this pig and think I’m the guy that will give it to you, well guess what, you might actually be right about that for once.

No, I have not taken leave of my senses. I am well aware that these two teams have been heading in vastly different directions since meeting in the Eastern Conference Championship last fall. In fact, they have been going in different directions since the end of 2007 when Houston became a perennial threat for the MLS Cup and DC became pretty much an embarrassing afterthought around the league.

To make matters worse, Houston just beat LA in the Toolbox and is unbeaten in their last four games, while DC has been lucky their losing streak isn’t a bit longer than the five it stands at now. However, I have seen signs of life in DC lately and Houston does have a habit of playing down to its opponents on the road, especially in RFK where they haven’t won since 2010 (and let’s just not discuss that season any further).

To start off with DC really didn’t deserve the shellacking they got in Columbus. It was a 3-0 loss, but nowhere near that bad in reality. Arguably DC outplayed the Crew for the majority of the match. DC’s moribund offense so far this season finally created plenty of chances and took six shots on goal as well as two off the woodwork, the problem was none of them went in. The Crew created few chances and just happened to score on all three of their shots on goal. That’s the cruelty of soccer sometimes.

It really is unfortunate that Ben Olsen was absolutely punished for making some changes that actually helped the team pay a much better game overall than they have for most of this season. The defense played a howler for sure, but they play their normal defensive game and DC walks out of there with a point at least.

Yes, and if frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their tails when they jump I can hear you saying. Look, I’m just saying for one of the rare games in the last calendar year DC got a lot less than it deserved instead of a lot more than it deserved which has happened quite a bit more often, especially towards the end of last year. But this year isn’t much better with that point in NY being an absolute felony and DC has turned one goal into all four of its points this year. Hardly inspiring, I admit.

So try this on for size. Houston beat LA for their first road win of the season, but they have largely been inept on the road and have been for the past couple seasons. The pitiful tie in Toronto and loss in Portland are usually what Houston produces on the road. Even better Houston loses quite regularly in RFK as well going 2-4-1 in the regular season since their creation in 2006.

DC is well rested and getting healthier while Houston had a game Sunday and a cross country flight in the past few days. Heck, the law of averages says DC will get at least three or four more wins this season just by dumb luck if 2010 is any indication and this team is better than that one for sure.

So, let’s break it down. Given the incomprehensible post-game quotes and evidence to date, coach Ben Olsen will continue his man love for Lionard Pajoy and start him alongside Dwayne De Rosario as forwards most likely. I would love to see Rafael Teixiera playing alongside DeRo, or even Carlos Ruiz for that matter, but I doubt Ben sits Pajoy or DeRo to make that happen, and if he moves DeRo to midfield to make it happen, then DC is doomed.

In midfield, Pontius and DeLeon are creeping closer to fitness, but won’t start or play is my guess. So, midfield will likely be Marcos Sanchez, Perry Kitchen and Kyle Porter almost certainly. Kitchen’s partner is a bit of a crapshoot as Ben loves Marcelo Saragosa in there to muddy up the game, but Raphael Augusto actually gives DC a chance to win, so it being a home game, my fingers are crossed Ben plays the talented Brazilian next to Kitchen. If it was me, I’d play their draftee out of UMD, Taylor Kemp instead of Sanchez on that left hand side too. Houston will play Oscar Boniek-Garcia on that side and he’s a handful for anyone, much less the tiny Panamanian, but I don’t see Ben taking the plunge on that one either.

In defense, it’s virtually a lock that Olsen plays Daniel Woolard, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, and Chris Korb. I personally would go with James Riley on the left and move Korb to the left and Woolard to the bench as DC really needs more out of their outside backs and Riley brings it more than Woolard, but I don’t see that happening either. Hamid will be in goal of course and another game like he had in NY would certainly go a long way to helping DC get some joy against Houston in this one.

As for Houston, given the travel and spate of games they’ve had, coach Dominic Kinnear could certainly make some changes, but he usually keeps a pretty rock solid starting XI together pretty consistently all through the first part of the season, something I wish Olsen would learn to do btw, so other than inserting Brad back into the lineup coming back from suspension, I expect him to start a pretty similar team to the one that beat LA, and it really doesn’t matter too much anyway as whoever he puts in there fits into his system and plays pretty similar to the guy he’s replacing, another thing Olsen should be taking notes on.

So, my money is on Giles Barnes and it’s a stone cold lock he’s partnering United Killer Will Bruin, whose goal scoring prowess against us is just too depressing to elaborate on, at forward. Midfield will be the Scotsman Andrew Driver, whose goal beat LA, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, and Boniek-Garcia. Maybe Kinnear keeps Moffat in there, sits Barnes, and plays Davis as the other forward, but I don’t think so as he likes to keep his guys in spots where they will play regularly rather than move them all over the field (ahem, another lesson Olsen could take note of). Defense will be Kofi Sarkodie, former DC defender Bobby Boswell, Jamaican Jermaine Taylor, and Corey Ashe from right to left in front of Talley Hall.

So, looking at the matchups, DC is obviously in some trouble if Houston plays their A game and DC bunkers into their turtle shell defense. If that happens, it’s a brutal 3-0 loss, so not even worth mentioning things like matchups. No, DC has to play like they did against Columbus, but without the howling mistakes in defense and Houston has to be a little off, which they have shown in playing down to their opponents on the road.

Normally, I like to think about the matchups going forward first, but since this is a Ben Olsen team, let’s start with the defensive side. In the run of play, it will be the wings where DC is in the biggest trouble. Boniek-Garcia will be a handful for Woolard or Korb, which is why I would rather see Kemp on that side, but maybe Sanchez will get in the way enough to be helpful. Driver is a solid unflashy type that will trouble Korb or James too, but I like Porter’s ability to help out so I think he’s the lesser problem. However, either of them peppering balls into the area to Bruin or over the top to Barnes could be disaster.

Kitchen and Saragosa or Augusto will also have their hands full against Davis in the run of play, and if DC gives up too many fouls, Davis will crucify them with freekicks. Rico making late runs will be troubling too, but he does much less of that on the road than usual, although he will have fond memories of his last visit to RFK.

However, I think it likely BMac comes back with a wicked strong game to make up for his Columbus debacle and shuts down Bruin. Barnes is a bit flighty and might just take himself out of the game as he’s a wanderer who hurts Bruin’s game as well with his disappearing act. Now, his speed alone is trouble, but Jakovic impressed me in Columbus running down Dominic Oduro from behind, so he’s the lesser concern for me as well.

Houston will win midfield almost certainly, but if DC stays compact and keeps Bruin locked up tight, they can keep Houston in check for the most part. Houston has scored in every match here since 2009, so I expect them to score again, but if the defense keeps it close, DC has a chance.

So, where will the goals come from? Obviously, I think they will come from Gladiator or Ruiz who have shown a propensity to actually shoot at the goal when they get the ball, but Olsen still has hope that Pajoy will set up DeRo and company storming out of the midfield on late runs and that actually happened a few times in Columbus. DeRo had a point blank shot foot saved after a set up by Pajoy late in that one. The Colombian also sent Sanchez in on goal late too. Pajoy himself actually cracked a first time shot ON GOAL and at the death smacked the crossbar as I sat in disbelief. I figured he must have been aiming at the corner flag and missed, but hey if that’s what Olsen is seeing in practice, then maybe he sets something up in this one.

More likely I see Pajoy battering and being battered by Boswell and Taylor, hopefully getting one or both of them sent off with his antics. It’s not pretty, but it would be helpful. With luck maybe he’s sent off too and Ben would be forced to play someone else, and bonus, start someone else against Dallas. Oh, be still my beating heart!

Obviously, on paper this is a bloodbath but as mentioned, historically DC has found a way past Houston in RFK in the regular season and soccer gods willing, will catch Houston looking past the league’s cellar dwellers or surprise a tired team coming off a rousing win in LA. DC deserved a lot better in their last outing, another solid performance and surely the gods right the scales in their favor.

DC will win again in RFK. Tomorrow in front of those few hundreds, who will brave the weather and the early kickoff on a weeknight and not be watching the Caps or going to the Nats game across the river, in order to see the worst team in MLS, who has lost their last three on the trot in what was known of formerly as fortress RFK, play against one of the best teams in the league is as good a time as any.

Those valiant hundreds deserve to see DC pull off the improbable.

Andy Najar celebrates his goal against the San Jose Earthquakes

El DC United Washingtoniano tonifica ofensiva con sabor latino

WASHINGTON DC.— Coincidencias sabrosas del fútbol, el director técnico del DC United washingtoniano, Ben Olsen,  nos sorprendió a inicio de la temporada pasada (2012) en su primer encuentro formal con los medios de información, con el panorama sólido, de absoluta confianza y muy convencido de lo que esperaba de su escuadra bisoña.

Y aunque nos sorprendió –de veras–, con su aplomo, y debemos de reconocer que –aunque nos mantuvo en suspenso hasta el final– el cuadro capitalino realizó una extraordinaria campaña en el 2012, logrando regresar el equipo a los juegos del playoffs , cosa que no lo lograba desde el 2007 luego de campañas verdaderamente catastróficas.

Hoy en el 2013, Ben Olsen vuelve exactamente con el mismo convencimiento para el panorama de su 18va temporada. El DC United se muestra optimista y –diríamos- un tanto más consolidado en lo que a su linea ofensiva se refiere apostando por jugadores que aunque jóvenes, llegan con cierto recorrido futbolero.

Pero lo realmente interesante es que esta vez la linea de ataque washingtoniano tiene un sabor muy latinoamericano, y es más, con ritmo sudamericano tras la adquisición de dos jóvenes talentos brasileños –Rafael (que estará un año a préstamo del club Bahía) y Raphael Augusto– esto agregado a la cimentación del colombiano Lionard Pajoy que llegó al club desde mediados de la temporada pasada.

Bien por “Benny” Olsen que ha apostado igualmente por la juventud del mediocampista ofensivo, Syamsir Alam, de 20 años, nacido en Indonesia, a préstamo del club belga C.S. Visé.

Interesante perspectiva la de Olsen ya que Syamsir tiene recorrido con buena base juvenil, ha pasado por todas las categorías a nivel de selección de su país arrancando desde la Sub–11.

De la misma manera, Olsen ha consolidado su sector ofensivo con la llegada del delantero Casey Townsend, de la cantera de la Universidad de Maryland, y proveniente del Chivas USA.

Esta linea ofensiva, que está ya trabajando Ben Olsen en la pretemporada, ya por una semana, en su concentración de la Academia IMG en Bradenton, Florida, dará un mejor panorama de opciones y visión de gol a su experimentado capitán canadiense Dwayne DeRosario, DeRo, que tanta falta hizo en los en los playoffs…

DeRo no está concentrado con el equipo en Florida por estar convocado a su selección canadiense en partidos de preparación, ya que se apresta a disputar la Copa de Oro a jugarse en 13 sedes estadounidenses a partir del 7 de Julio.

Por cierto, tendremos partidos de Copa de Oro en la zona metropolitana en el estadio M&T Bank de la ciudad de Baltimore que tiene capacidad para 57,000 espectadores…Nos deja un tanto extrañados la elección de esta sede y que no se eligiera al coloso de Anacostia, nuestro RFK Washingtoniano. Lo dejamos para otra nota, pero allí claramente es la capacidad del estadio y el  modernismo de sus instalaciones la que cuenta.

Igualmente otro jugador que no se ha alejado del las filas del DC United es el mediocampista Chris Pontius, aunque no está concentrado por estar en proceso de recuperación para estar a punto para el inicio de temporada frente al Houston Dynamo, el 2 de marzo.

Fue justamente ante Dynamo que el DC United jugó los playoffs y que lo dejó fuera con una buena facturación de goles. Le fue mal a DC en los playoffs. Con DeRolesionado y Pontius igualmente golpeado, sucumbieron ante un Houston que llegó completo.

Otro que esperemos que regrese a la escuadra es el juvenil hondureño Andy Nájarque está jugando a préstamo con el club belga Anderlecht.

LOS QUE PARTIERON

La más sentida partida, muy difundida en los medios de información, fue la del Presidente del club Kevin Payne quién partió hacia territorio canadiense para hacerse cargo del Toronto FC. Se dejará sentir la ausencia de Payne ya que fue el gran artífice de los logros del club especialmente cuando DC logró sus cuatro campeonatos.

Igualmente el equipo dejó en libertad al atacante chino Long Tan, a Maicon Santos, quien fue dejado en libertad y ancló en Chicago Fire. El defensor argentino Emiliano Dudar también se aleja del D.C. United.

El portero Diego Restrepo, ex jugador de la Universidad de Virginia y los clubes latinoamericanos América de Cali de Colombia y Deportivo Táchira de Venezuela, estuvo probándose con el club pero no convenció.

También fue alejado de la plantilla fue el delantero albanés Hamdi Salihi, uno de los jugadores franquicia el año pasado, pero que jugó sólo en 22 partidos. A nosotros nos pareció un desperdicio total de esfuerzos y de dinero en este jugador. No aportó absolutamente nada al club…Mucho ruido y pocas nueces!!!.

Quién lo trajo, cómo llegó? misterio total en el club y que a nosotros no nos cabe saberlo, lo cierto que fue un fiasco total para la escuadra washingtoniana. Salihi hizo solo seis goles en 22 partidos en los cuales casi siempre arrancó en la banca. Lo números hablan por él.

Así mismo los mediocampistas el montenegrino Branko Boskovic y Stephen King y  fueron dados de baja de la plantilla del club capitalino. Otro que se alejó del club en el cuerpo técnico es el entrenador de porteros Pat Onstad que fue al Toronto FC donde se encontrará con Kevin Payne.

LA ARMADA DE OLSEN

Dadas así las cosas la escuadra capitalina, que está aceitando engranajes en Florida, presentará su rostro para esta temporada más o menos así: Rafael, Saragosa, Raphael Augusto, Pajoy y Nájar poniendo el pincelazo latino. Bill Hamid en la portería (en estos momentos entrenando con la selección mayor de USA para el partido amistoso de preparación del hexagonal mundialista, frente a Canadá en Houston.

Igualmente están confirmados en la escuadra  rojinegra, Ethan White, Chris Korb, Jakovic, Brandon McDonald, Robbie Russell, Daniel Woolard y Taylor Kemp (seleccionado del draft emelesero).

La otra grata novedad es que el veterano goleador Josh “Lobito” Wolff (retirado del fútbol activo) será asistente de Olsen a tiempo completo, en el cuerpo técnico capitalino…De veras, vientos juveniles soplan en el el DC United Capitalino. Veremos que tan alto pueden llegar esta vez las legendarias Aguilas Rojinegras Washingtonianas…Creemos que muy alto.

D.C. United's Hamdi Salihi celebrates his 24th minute go ahead goal against the Richmond Kickers in U.S. Open Cup play. Photo: Matt Mathai.

DC United camina firme hacia los Playoffs tras agónico triunfo de visita ante Toronto FC

Para el DC United washingtoniano la esperanza de entrar a los juegos de postemporada –los playoffs– se le ha puesto en el mejor de los perfiles.

Con la victoria agonizante frente a Toronto FC, 1-0, y en casa ajena, logró medio pasaje a los playoffs en la temporada 2012 de la MLS estadounidense, a los que no llega desde el 2007.

Son vitalizantes los siete puntos logrados en tres partidos de visita y los coloca en un excelente momento al cierre de temporada regular.

En la recta final del torneo se mantienen invictos en sus últimos cinco partidos donde ha ganado cuatro y ha sacado un empate en cancha ajena, frente al ‘Union’ hace una semana, que de por sí es dificil por la gran afición que tiene el Philadelphia Union que llena su estadio en cada encuentro.

Muy meritorio por cierto dado que ha jugado sin su mejor hombre, Dwayne DeRosario, DeRo, por fatal lesión a la rodilla que lo mantendrá por varias semanas más fuera de la cancha.

Con esta victoria ante Toronto, el DC United camina con cuidado en el cuadro general de la Conferencia Este.

Tiene en su haber 16 victorias, 10 derrotas y 6 empates, acumulando 54 puntos, situándose en un cómodo –aunque no muy tranquilo–, tercer lugar.

Los persiguen en cuarta posición, New York Red Bulls con 53 puntos, quienes cayeron frente Chicago Fire de manera calamitosa 2-0. Igualmente les pisa los talones Houston Dynamo con 50 puntos.

Houston pugna con fuerza por meterse en los juegos y se mantiene con vida ante su empate, a un gol, con Impact Montreal al que dejó fuera de competencia.

A DC United no le queda nada fácil este tramo final de la temporada y todo está en sus manos. Le restan dos encuentros de infarto. Este sábado 20 de Octubre recibirá en casa a Columbus Crew a las 7:30 PM en el Coloso de Anacostia, el RFK washingtoniano.

Crew es peligroso porque esta metido en el sexto lugar con 49 puntos pisándole los talones a Houston aunque se ha estancado el borde de la linea de los playoffs tras su eléctrico empate frente a Sporting Kansas City.

Kansas le aminoró los ánimos a Crew. Es un equipo que ha hecho la mejor de sus temporadas este 2012. Ya está clasificado (fue el primeros) con 59 puntos, invicto en sus diez últimos partidos y, por supuesto, quieren seguir sumando.

Realmente lamentable lo de Columbus Crew, que jugó como dueño de casa y no supo –o no pudo–, sacarle provecho a ese factor favorable porque de lo que se trataba era de jugarse la vida para meterse en los playoffs.

Otro sí digo: DC United tendrá una final adelantada. Se jugará la vida en su último encuentro de visita frente a Chicago Fire , el sábado 27 de Octubre…Chicago le arrancó los tres puntos a New York en un categórico 2-0. Aún cuando Chicago está por encima de DC United con 56 puntos es corta la distancia para no pestañear.

Sin duda la Conferencia Este esta de color rojo encendida y DC United tiene en sus manos su clasificación. Lo que significa sumar con victoria frente a Columbus Crew en su casa, por cierto venida a menos en hinchada según porcentajes difundidos por el Washington Post capitalino.

Cosas del fútbol le llamamos…Lo cierto es que DC United tiene lo suyo y lo demostró con esta victoria agonizante frente a Toronto FC con un gol a los 88 minutos de nada menos que uno de los jugadores atacantes con menos presencia en esta temporada, el libanés Hamdi Salihi que ha estado sentado en la cancha más minutos que cualquier titular en el DC United.

Goles son amores y son los que importan a la hora de sumar puntos. Salihi hizo un oportuno gol ante una embarazosa falsa atajada del portero de Toronto Milos Kocic. Mortal realmente la deslizada de la pelota del portero Kocic ante un remate un tanto débil desde fuera del área del ariete brasileño washingtoniano Maicon Santos.

Maicon se las jugó todas –incluso dejando tragando saliva amarga a Chris Pontius y Branko Boskovic que esperaban el pase–, ya que disparó débil a media altura y con marca apretada.

Pero ese es el fútbol que gusta y que paraliza sensaciones y pulsaciones. Con goles que congelan almas y que llegan en momentos menos deseados.

Puntillazo mortal de Salihi en un partido donde DC United precisamente no dominaba, en gélida tarde, pero que la victoria calentó desde muy lejos a la capital de la nación, Washington.

Las cifras y honores tendrán que resolverse cuando DC United y Crew se enfrenten en partido no apto para cardíacos el próximo sábado 20. Sin duda alguna DC United la tiene que tener clara, los puntos los debe barajar en sus botines.

Dar margen a la especulación debe serle terreno prohibido si de veras quiere volver a llevar gente a su estadio porque en ese sentido las cifras no mienten.

Al DC United le está llegando menos gente a su casa, o dicho mejor, la hinchada no quiere ir a sus fiestas si la orquesta que anima toca música desafinada. Qué duda cabe, es el mejor de los momentos para que los dirigidos por Ben ‘Benny” Olsen toquen y bailen al mejor ritmo capitalino. ¡¡¡Música maestro que la fiesta empieza!!!

UN TOQUE DEL PARTIDO 

La pasó mal el United ante el último lugar de la Conferencia del Este. Los dirigidos por Ben Olsen tuvieron una tarde opaca en el BMO Field, en la que Toronto lució mejor. Pero goles son los que suman puntos y para bien del United, su falta de buen juego lo compensó con su contundencia –oportunismo–, diríamos mejor.

Toronto tuvo todo a favor para  vencer– casa llena y vientos gélidos– pero sus delanteros Ryan Johnson y Luis Silva tuvieron una tarde destroza.

En ese sentido el DT washingtoniano, Ben Olsen, le sacó provecho al momento. Aguantó al rival en su campo a la espera de un contragolpe, teniendo al colombiano Lionard Pajoy y a su captitán Chris Pontius merodeando el área canadiense esperando espacios abiertos pero que lamenablemente no se les dió.

Toronto insistía pero débil y sin realmente ideas ni condiciones. Con aprecio pero los vimos pobrísimos en el intento de facturar.

Allí Olsen se las jugó. Saca a Pajoy por Salihi y al mediocampista brasileño Marcelo Saragosa por su compatriota Maicon Santos. El cambio de ritmo le funcionó. A los dos minutos del final Santos sacó un remate que el arquero Kocic dejó escapar y en oportuna posición Salihi solo tuvo que empujarla adentro de la portería.

ALINEACIONES

D.C. UNITED: Hamid; Najar, McDonald, Jakovic, Korb; Neal (Boskovic 54′), Kitchen, Saragosa (Santos 77′), DeLeon, Pontius (c); Pajoy (Salihi 64′)

TORONTO FC: Kocic; J. Hall, Eckersley, O’Dea, Emory; Lambe, Dunfield, Maund, Johnson; Silva (Avila 86′), Amarikwa (Wiedeman 33′)

Fecha: Sábado, 6 de octubre

Estadio: BMO Field, Toronto, Cánadá

Goles: D.C.: Salihi (88′)

Asistencia: 15,281 espectadores

United vs. Philadelphia: Controversy abounds in 1-1 draw with the Union

D.C. United captain Dwayne De Rosario missed his second attempt at a penalty kick in the 89th minute after scoring on the first as the Philadelphia Union held on to draw D.C. on Sunday, 1-1, in a match that spiraled out of control late at RFK Stadium.

An encroachment call on De Rosario’s successful penalty kick attempt in the 87th minute was followed by a scrum, during which United midfielder Branko Boskovic was handed a red card.

De Rosario rocketed the ensuing kick over the goal to preserve the final score, but the dramatics weren’t done. D.C. defender Emiliano Dudar was handed a straight red three minutes later, Union defender Sheanon Williams was sent off with a second yellow in the dying seconds of the match.

The Union ended a two-game losing skid despite blowing an early lead, while D.C. now have one win their previous five tries. Philadelphia (7-12-3, 24 points) jumped up one spot to eighth in the Eastern Conference while D.C. (11-8-4, 37) took sole possession of fifth, just ahead of the Montreal Impact.

After beating Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath to his right on the first penalty attempt, De Rosario chipped his second shot high over the net. Chris Pontius was tripped by Roger Torres in the box, setting the stage for the penalty.

Boskovic’s 70th-minute free kick deflected off Philadelphia’s Amobi Okugo for an own goal that proved the equalizer in a match where the Union’s Brian Carroll gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.

Boskovic, who entered the match in the 57th minute and turned the tide for the Black-and-Red, delivered a beautiful left-footed service that slid through the penalty area, then caromed off Okugo’s head and by the outstretched arms of MacMath.

Philadelphia’s goal resulted from a set piece where former United midfielder Freddy Adu lobbed a useful ball toward the box. The service pin-balled to Carlos Valdes, who fired a shot that was headed well wide of United’s goal only to ricochet off United midfielder Perry Kitchen, right to Carroll. The former United midfielder poked it by United keeper Bill Hamid for his first goal of the season and sixth of his career.

In the 64th minute, it appeared United had their first goal, but referee Mark Geiger ruled MacMath was interfered with by Hamdi Salihi as he was reaching for the ball. Replays showed MacMath didn’t have control of the ball on the play and the call drew the ire of a majority of the 12,312 spectators in attendance.

Both goalkeepers loomed large in the first half with Hamid making two diving saves and MacMath stopping four quality chances.

D.C. United will now take on the red-hot Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening before heading north to take on the Montreal Impact on Saturday evening.

 

United Notes

– Dudar and Boskovic will be out the match on Wednesday due to their red card ejections. Most likely Dejan Jakovic will play central defense alongside Brandon McDonald with De Rosario filling in the central midfield role, as he did tonight to start the match.

– Lionard Pajoy started for United and played 57 minutes before being replaced by Boskovic. Ironically, Danny Cruz, whom he was traded for on Thursday, also started for the Union and was subbed out in the 57th minute. Head coach Ben Olsen said he was pleased with Pajoy’s performance but still needs to figure out his team mates tendencies.

United gives up Cruz in trade with Philadelphia; Was this the right move?

On Thursday afternoon, D.C. United traded 22-year old midfielder Danny Cruz to the Philadelphia Union for 31-year old Colombian forward Lionard Pajoy and an International Player slot. That international slot was then used to add Pijoy to United’s roster as they had just traded away an international spot to Portland in the Mike Chabala trade from last week.

My immediate reaction to this news was one of stunned silence. Not quite the same reaction most United fans got when they heard the news just over 12 months ago when the Black-and-Red acquired Dwayne De Rosario, but a quizical reaction none the less. It jarred me because so much was made about the under the radar addition of Danny Cruz during the offseason and how he seems so much to be a Ben Olsen-esque type of player. Why would United give up on him so soon?

After taking the night to ponder the reasons behind this move I’ve come up with a few thoughts on the move and what it means going forward:

1) Was this a panic move in the face of the team dropping further down the Eastern Conference standings?

Yes and No. I agree, quite the fence sitter I am. Yes in the sense that bringing in another forward in an already jammed forward position seems a bit of overkill – especially a forward with a higher salary ($180,000 per season) and higher age as opposed to Cruz ($100,000) and his still 10-year career ahead of him.

No in the sense that of the forward options, only De Rosario right now is a viable option up top due. Sure, we can add Chris Pontius up top and no one would really argue the point as he has been the only productive player the past month or so, but having him on the wing adds a special dimension to United’s already predictable attack. Maicon Santos (toe injury) and Hamdi Salihi (virus) have not been options the past two weeks and the recently acquired Long Tan is raw at best. At least Pajoy has scored 5 goals and added a few assists for a rather young Philadelphia squad. But how does this help United? Well, it gives United another target forward of sorts as Santos has been the only one capable of playing that role. DeRo, Pontius and Salihi are much better suited running off of another forward. DeRo and Pontius are creators/finishers while Salihi is pretty much chisled in stone as a goal poacher.

2) What does this mean for Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi?

I think this probably hurts Santos more than Salihi. As mentioned earlier, Santos and Pajoy have similar games. The problem with Santos now is a toe injury and those don’t go away quickly. Also you have to add in the fact of Santos’ track record through his first 4 seasons here in MLS – it’s been the same wherever he’s gone. Score early, score often and then somehow fade into oblivion. Can you not say this is exactly what has happened so far with Santos? Granted, he’s done more with United in just over half a season than he has ever done in previous stops in Toronto, Dallas and Chivas USA, but is it too much to ask right now for him to recapture that magic from late March through May?

The move to get Pijoy tells me that the coaching staff would say yes, it’s too much to ask right now.

As for Salihi, he is a unique talent on this squad. He’s been great in the role of a second-half sub that poaches goals and puts games to rest. This is critically important for any team looking to get back to the playoffs. The problem has been when Salihi has been a starter. He just doesn’t seem to mesh well with his quicker teamates throughout the field. Salihi, to his credit, makes good runs but is often overlooked on these runs and it get’s magnified over a 90 minute stretch. There’s been a lot of speculation amongst United’s faithful fanbase that this move will signal the end of Salihi’s time at United. I don’t feel that is the case at all. That doesn’t mean there isn’t reason for concern.

The problem here for Salihi is two-fold. One, he has a gauranteed contract that runs through the 2013 season and Two, he’s getting paid DP money. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I don’t think Olsen and Technical Director Dave Kasper had a second-half sub role in mind for their goalscoring find from Europe in the offseason.

These are the chances you take when you sign these Designated Players. You may have an inkling of how a player can fit into your squad or how quickly they can adjust to the admittedly physical and athletic prowess of MLS in general, but at the end of the day, it’s only game time which will be the ultimate decider in how that adjustment is made. Right now finacially Hamdi’s juice isn’t worth the squeeze, but I do maintain that he does play a vital role for this team by the time all is said and done this season. Goal poachers are not easy to come by in this league and I’m perfectly willing to have Hamdi play that second-half sub role for the remainder of the season. Next year however, he will have to find a way to integrate himself into the starting X1 and play at a level that will keep him there. Otherwise, it’s another DP playing part-time minutes and not contributing (sound familiar Branko?)

3) There goes some midfield depth

Yes, jettisoning Cruz hurts United’s depth in midfield for sure, but with the resurgence of Nick DeLeon over the past few games and the return of Andy Najar from the Olympics, Cruz wasn’t going to get much playing time anyway. Throw in the MLS Best X1 form from Pontius and the experience and steadiness of a Lewis Neal, then the decision was an easy one for the Braintrust to make.

The downside to this of course is that you let a 22-year old player go who embodied the 90 MPH in-your-face type of play that this team quite honestly has been missing for years. While it’s nice to play some pretty soccer (as United has done mostly at RFK this season but failed miserably to do on the road – that’s a column for another day), it’s just as nice to know that the other team fears playing against players like Danny Cruz. No doubt United will feel that wrath this upcoming Sunday night.

4) Is United better for making this trade? 

If this team truly was concerned with their future makeup, then moving Cruz was a bad move in terms of building the squad beyond this season. Giving up on youth that has plenty of playoff experience is never a good thing. Does Danny Cruz remind anyone of the skill that Najar possesses? No, but we knew that off the bat. We knew that Cruz was a worker bee on the wing that lacked the special flair of a Najar and his finishing ability. But sometimes it’s even more important to prevent other teams from scoring than it is to wow the locals with panache and an assortment of SportsCenter Top 10 type of moves.

If I had to make a choice, I would say Philadelphia in the long run will make out better on this deal because Cruz is younger and cheaper than Pajoy. Also, Cruz has a history with head coach John Hackworth with the U-17’s whereas Pajoy is coming into this team cold and is being expected to contribute right away. I don’t think Cruz is under the same type of pressure that Pajoy will be initially to contribute and that could go a long way towards deciding who makes out better in the long run.

The move for Pajoy seems a bit knee-jerk right now and may benefit United in the short term if he can score some goals right away. Long term though I don’t see this as a win for United. My guess is at the start of next season either Pajoy or Santos will be with this team, but not both of them. If it turns out that Pajoy was simply a 12-game rental, then it’s a landslide in Philadelphia’s favor.

 

All that being said, it certainly was an interesting move and one that will be highly debated over the remaining few months of the MLS

DC Looks for Revenge on Crew

Two weeks ago, DC rolled into Columbus looking to get themselves back on track in the East, but failed miserably losing 1-0 in a game where the Crew were the ones to come out of the match with renewed momentum. However since then, DC has notched a 1-1 tie over visiting Paris St. German despite giving up an early goal to one of the world’s best strikers and will be looking to reverse the results from their last league match.

DC United is entering a crucial stretch for their season, an early surge put the team solidly near the top of the table and well into the playoff picture, but poor play and long stretches of time without any games has derailed that early enthusiasm. Now United enters a stretch of weekly games and really needs to get themselves back to playing consistently well on the field as opposed to fairly consistently bad as the playoffs could easily slip away if the team is not careful.

As is my mantra, I for one think some consistency would be the natural result of Coach Ben Olsen actually employing a consistent lineup and having a solid rotation of guys playing a single role coming off the bench. Encouragingly, Olsen has made similar comments of late as well and does have an almost complete roster available with just Robbie Russell (foot) and Andy Najar (Olympics) out, so I expect United to settle on their starting XI for the playoff push starting with this match against the Crew.

Evidence piled up to date has made it pretty plain that DC United plays its best soccer with its most talented players on the field and that they hoof it up field and hope when they play with their talent riding the pine or wasted in midfield.

Offensively, DeRo needs to be playing as a second forward. In midfield he has to work too hard, gives the ball away too cheaply and dangerously, and it takes his usually deadly finishing too far away from the opponent’s goal. Chris Pontius has clearly earned the other starting forward spot with his dynamic play and his elegant confidence in front of the net. Salihi deserves to only come off the bench as long as DeRo refuses to pass to him, and as long Santos continues his rapid reversion to form as his effectiveness has dropped off the table recently and his play has become too erratic making him another second half option at best.

In midfield, Pontius is actually the best option for the left midfield position, but until Salihi is allowed to integrate into the team or Santos rides his roller coaster back toward the top, Pontius needs and deserves to play forward. Second best on the left is Najar, but until he returns, rookie Nick DeLeon is showing sparks of the extremely promising play that had him an early rookie of the year candidate. On the right, Danny Cruz is not nearly the offensive threat he should be, but he’s consistent and reliable. Maybe DC’s newly signed Brazilian, Raphael Augusto, forces Cruz, Najar, or DeLeon off the field in the coming months, but until then, those guys stay at the top of the heap.

Which leaves the center of the park where Perry Kitchen has been playing far above his years and simply has no challengers for his starting spot. In front of him in the playmaking role should be Branko Boskovic as the evidence is clear that DC is a markedly better passing team, and is far more deadly off set pieces when he is on the field. Granted he’s not the hardest worker out there, and never seems to go seek out the ball enough, but his contributions offensively are clearly needed and he rarely has unforced errors that put the team in trouble. Far more often than not, he retains the possession needed to give DC’s beleaguered defense the break they deserve.

In the defense, I think the jury has weighed in with its consternation about how it is possible Emiliano Dudar simply cannot make the starting XI. All the guy does is display elegance on the ball in retaining possession and starting plays, he rarely gets beat individually, rarely makes mistakes, organizes others around him very well, is extremely unlikely to ever get beat in the air, etc. How Brandon “Hoof it and Hope” McDonald stays ahead of him on the depth chart is mind boggling, especially as his defensive mistakes have been chilling and his excessive use of force maddening. So, I’m making a stand right here that Dudar should be given the starting slot as his to lose for the next month.

Just as obviously, Dejan Jakovic needs to be Dudar’s central defense partner, which Olsen has been loathe to do, perhaps because neither is all that physical, but MLS has advanced beyond the need for a rock and a hard head in central defense. United could ascend to much higher plane if this change works and there is evidence that it should.

On the outsides, obviously Robbie Russell is out, but I would argue Chris Korb would be a better option even if Russell was healthy. Russell has been far from the calming veteran presence United was hoping for when they traded for him and his mistakes and ball watching have been shocking for a player of his pedigree and familiarity with the league. No doubt, Korb has had his share of gaffs too, but he is younger and might as well get his experience now as he’s clearly no worse than Russell.

Daniel Woolard on the other side is the only other starter outside Kitchen that simply has no one even close to challenging for his slot. And just to complete the team, Hamid still deserves to start, but after Willis’ heroics this year including massive saves late to keep PSG from sneaking out of RFK with a win, make him a very pleasant alternative should Hamid falter.

As for the Crew, they haven’t gotten much healthier since we last played them when their injury report looked like casualty list from Antietam, but they did manage a surprising win in Kansas City last week with essentially the same starting lineup that beat DC the week before. Of course, tomorrow the Crew will be without Cole Grossman who lost his mind in the waning minutes of the KC win and got tossed, and thankfully won’t have their newly signed designated player, Argentine forward Federico Higuain either as he awaits paperwork.

So, in all likelihood, Crew coach Robert Warzycha will go with Costa Rican sniper Jairo Arrieta the hero against SKC and Justin Meram at forward. Maybe Warzycha lets Emilio Renteria or Olman Vargas out of the doghouse, but he has never been one to free undesirables from his gulag once he incarcerates them.

The Crew midfield almost certainly will be Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka, and Chris Birchall, so the only question is who replaces the suspended Grossman and I think it extremely likely Tony Tchani gets the nod. The defense in front of Andy Gruenebaum in goal should be Sebastion Miranda, Carlos Mendes, Chad Marshall, and Josh Williams although Williams took a knock on the ankle and Julius James appears ready to return from injury.

So, looking at the matchups, DC continues to have the advantage as they did when they went paws up in Columbus two weeks ago. If they play to their potential, they beat the Crew easily as their central defense does not have the skill or athleticism to stop DeRo and Pontius. If Chelsea couldn’t stop the pair, journeyman Mendes and a fading Marshall are not going to either. True, on the outsides DC will struggle as Williams athleticism is easily enough to frustrate Cruz, and Carmen Miranda might be their best defender of late, so unless DeLeon finds that earlier gear he had, he will struggle too.

But Boskovic and Kitchen should be smart enough to pass their way around Birchall and Tchani easily enough, plus Boskovic’ set plays keep united dangerous even and able to grind out points even when the team is not firing on all cylinders.

Defensively, Arrieta is wily and opportunistic, but Dudar or Jackovic should be able to handle him easily enough if he is left on an island as he has been with the energetic, but somewhat ineffective Meram up there as his partner. Eddie Gaven against Woolard is a good matchup of solid veteran pros which hopefully cancels each other out although Gaven might have an edge if we’re being honest. Dilly Duka also had quite a bit of success last time out against DC, especially when Williams overlapped on that side as well, so Cruz simply has to help out Korb in keeping Duka quiet, but that is the only real concern DC should face defensively assuming they play like they actually play like they normally do at home.

As for the trends, they favor DC a bit as well. Historically, the Crew have struggled in RFK with DC holding the edge 16-6-3 lifetime outscoring the Crew 52-34. Although ominously, the Crew have won 3 of their last 5 visits to RFK handily defeating DC during the past four lean years. However, this season, DC is 6-1-2 at home not having lost since the opener, while the Crew is an unsightly 3-4-3 away from Columbus, although with a quality win in Seattle and are coming off that shocking win in KC. As for current form, DC has clearly been reeling with 3 losses in their past 4 games, but all those losses were on the road obviously, and the win was against the lowly Impact. While the Crew is on a two game win streak courtesy of DC and KC, two of the top teams in the East.

So, here you have it. DC has the slight edge as it seems likely they settle on a starting XI and hopefully begin a nice run of points with 7 games in the next 5 weeks to build some consistency. How well they establish themselves some consistency and develop some attacking and defending chemistry likely decides their playoff future. After four years on the outside looking in, the playoffs really are a must for a team steeped in good news lately on the business side.

Now for some good news on the field.