DC United hope to emulate 2011 Sporting Kansas City and bounce back from poor start

Ben Olsen

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They currently have the worst record in Major League Soccer with a league-low four points. But D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen is not panicking.

"There have been plenty of teams that were in the same spot as we are right now and changed their fortunes and ended up either in the [MLS] Cup or playoffs,” he told media on Tuesday.

Well, "plenty" may be a slight overstatement. Try three teams.

READ: D.C. still united despite awful start to the season

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been seven MLS teams which have collected four or fewer points through eight matches since the end of the shootout era, which began with the 2000 season. Only three teams wound up making the playoffs, including two in the same season.

In 2003, when eight of 10 teams made the playoffs, the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids both suffered dismal starts to their season, but they still made it to the postseason with two of the five worst records in the league. Both teams were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.

The best example Olsen can hold up for his D.C. troops is the 2011 Sporting Kansas City squad which rebounded from a 1-6-1 start to their campaign to finish in first place in the Eastern Conference with 51 points.

Of course, that bad start came largely because of a 10-game road trip to begin the year as KC waited for Sporting Park to be completed. It was the same story for the '03 Galaxy, who opened with an eight-game trip while waiting for the finishing touches to be put on the Home Depot Center.

As for the other four teams to get off to such a bad start, three – Chivas USA (2005), D.C. United (2010) and Toronto FC (2012) – finished last overall the league standings by season's end.

TEAMS IN POST-SHOOTOUT ERA WITH 4 PTS OR FEWER AFTER 8 GAMES:

2003: Colorado Rapids finished 3rd in West (11-12-7, 40pts) - QUALIFIED FOR PLAYOFFS

2003: LA Galaxy finished 4th in West (9-12-9, 36pts) - QUALIFIED FOR PLAYOFFS

2005: Chivas USA finished last in West (4-22-6, 18pts)

2009: FC Dallas finished 7th in West (11-13-6, 39pts)

2010: D.C. United finished last in East (6-20-4, 22pts)

2011: Sporting Kansas City finished 1st in East (13-9-12, 51pts) - QUALIFIED FOR PLAYOFFS

2012: Toronto FC finished last in East (5-21-8, 23pts)