There is no doubt that D.C. United are a team on the rise in 2012, but that hasn't stopped them from learning some painful lessons about defense in the past month.
Despite scoring 11 goals in the past four games, United have just two wins in that stretch, with the team nearly matching its goals-scored total by conceding nine in the same period.
According to Dwayne De Rosario, the solution isn't to try to go out and score three or four goals every game to ensure three points. Instead, he insists a team effort defensively is the key to moving up in the standings.
"We don't want to leak goals like that," De Rosario told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. "It's something that we want to clean up. We want to keep that clean sheet, and so we will work at it defensively."
On Wednesday, United had little trouble creating chances against a formidable San Jose defense. The problems arose though, when the Earthquakes were on the attack, as D.C. allowed a crippling five goals. With three injuries at center back, Ben Olsen was forced to drop Perry Kitchen – a defensive midfielder – back into defense, a move that did not pan out over 90 minutes.
However, United will have a chance to right the ship immediately, with another chance to earn three points against a barren Toronto FC attack at BMO Field on Saturday (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Though firmly focused on helping improve the club's defensive shortcomings, De Rosario will also be presented with another chance to score against a former team.
In fact, it's the fourth straight game in which the Toronto native finds himself up against a former side, and he has found some measure of success against the first three – after an assist against the New York Red Bulls, the 2011 MLS MVP notched his first and second goals of the season in games against the Houston Dynamo and the San Jose Earthquakes.
Even though it's a homecoming for De Rosario, he realizes the trip is about business, and not pleasure.
"Definitely it's always fun to play in Toronto," the Canadian international said. "It's fun to play away in front of my family and friends. But it's business and and we want three points and to come back to D.C. with our heads held high."