DC United keep "bleeding goals," but can't find solution to defensive problems

Perry Kitchen and Graham Zusi

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WASHINGTON – In a stark contrast to the D.C. United team that rallied without captain Dwayne De Rosario and transformed into a stingy, defensive side down the stretch en route to last season’s Eastern Conference Championship, the 2013 version of the club is, as midfielder Perry Kitchen put it, “bleeding goals.”

Mistakes throughout United’s defense have been most glaring in the past three matches, as the club has allowed 10 goals during that stretch. Overall during the team’s current six-match losing streak, D.C. have been outscored 15-3.

Frustration turned to befuddlement Wednesday after the club’s worst loss of the season, a 4-0 drubbing by the Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium.

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“We’re just giving teams goals,” United coach Ben Olsen said after the match. “All these teams aren’t earning these goals. They’re saying, ‘Sit back, counter D.C. and they’ll make mistakes.’ And we have consistently done that.

“Once that happens, the game becomes an exercise in us trying to get one back and pushing and pushing, and ultimately if you don’t get the break, it’s probably going to come back the other way because you’re going to be taking chances. It’s not a good recipe right now.”

In a 3-0 loss against Columbus, center back Brandon McDonald delivered a poor first half and directly blamed himself for the loss. Wednesday, it was center back Dejan Jakovic who wasn’t sharp as he was beat by Will Bruin for Houston’s first goal and committed an ill-advised back pass that led to Houston’s second.

“We’re making it too easy for other teams to score on us,” Kitchen said. “We have to sharpen it up and stop bleeding goals. We’re giving up way too many goals and it’s not how you’re going to win games if you’re coming into halftime two goals down.”

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De Rosario, as displeased as anyone with the club’s current form, wanted to see more fire from United on Wednesday. He didn’t get it.

“These are my guys, so I don’t want to be too critical, but we just can’t do that in a game, give up two goals in the first half,” De Rosario said. “Especially at home. We worked too hard on a lot of things the last couple weeks to come in. The momentum and the hype going into the game and to give away two goals like that, it’s frustrating.

“The response has to be better. If you give up two goals, I expect you to be a little more urgent, making some tackles and I have to say, ‘Relax, calm down.’ But I just don’t see that. I have to yell to keep them motivated, which, there’s only so much talking you can do.”

United’s attempt to end their losing skid won’t get any easier as the club travels to face Western Conference-leading FC Dallas on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, FREE on MLS Live).