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Eastern Conference Championship

DC searching for consistency and second straight win

WASHINGTON — It’s been a long time since D.C. United were able to string together two wins in a row.

More than two years have elapsed since the club achieved that feat, dating all the way back to June 2009, and on the heels of last weekend’s 1-0 win on the road over the New York Red Bulls, the club can accomplish that with a win in Dallas on Saturday (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

“We haven’t had back-to-back wins in a long time,” head coach Ben Olsen (pictured above) said this week. “That’s our focus right now as a group: putting on consistent performances where we can start moving up the table.”

Consistency has been one of the themes pounded home by Olsen and the rest of his coaching staff so far this year. It’s something that has also proved to be a bit elusive, as DC failed to close out slim leads earlier in the year. United know that in order to cross that hump and contend for the playoffs, they need to start stringing wins together.

Getting a second straight win against a tough FC Dallas team isn’t going to be easy, as they’ll face one of only two clubs in MLS to have hit the 10-win mark in 2011.

“It’s always a tough game against those guys,” midfielder Clyde Simms said of Dallas. “They’re playing well right now and winning games — they’re confident.”

FCD have adjusted well to life without David Ferreira, the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2010, after he was injured against Vancouver at the end of April. Since losing the Colombian playmaker, they’ve compiled an outstanding record of 8-2-3 and sit five points out of first place in the West with two games in hand on both LA and Seattle.

One of the biggest threats on Saturday will be a player who has stepped up the most in Ferreira’s absence — midfielder Break Shea, who leads a contingent of fleet-footed attackers whom United will look to neutralize.

“Their team speed is incredible,” midfielder Chris Pontius said. “They’re really tough to control. We need to be aware of that, and make sure when we do lose the ball, we’re losing it deep in their end and not letting them come out and counter on us.”

But DC won’t show up simply looking to bunker down, as they head south eager for all three points.

“I think we can get after them a little bit on the offensive side,” Pontius said. “We’ve got to pick and choose our time to go forward.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.