WASHINGTON – On three occasions in 32 matches this season, D.C. United have scored more than one goal. Three.
That leaves 29 games where United have been either shut out (15) or held to one goal.
Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union in front of 11,213 spectators, it appeared it was only a matter of time until D.C. attained a well-earned fourth multi-goal performance.
Instead, missed opportunities in the final third and a 90th-minute equalizer by Jack McInerney extended United’s winless streak to 10 games.
By now, United have grown numb to it.
"We’ve seen this before,” coach Ben Olsen said after the 1-1 draw. “You've got to go get the second goal and be classy enough to have the composure with the final ball to finish off games."
D.C. now must win one of their final two matches to avoid breaking the MLS record for fewest wins in a season (four, by Chivas USA in 2005).
They had multiple opportunities Saturday to build on a brilliant first-half goal by midfielder Nick DeLeon, but couldn’t convert. In the opening 45, forward Conor Doyle ripped a ball off the near post and midfielder Luis Silva had a pair of golden looks.
In the second half, more pressure from United helped Kyle Porter find himself in alone against Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. His attempt was saved. In the 82nd minute, Doyle (pictured at right) sidestepped MacMath, who was well outside the penalty box, and dribbled towards an open goal. As Doyle advanced into the box, he laid the ball off for Chris Pontius, who blasted it high over the crossbar.
“We had multiple times to put the game away, to not even give them a chance,” DeLeon said. “That’s on us. The positive is that we are creating chances, we’ve just got to start putting them in the back of the net.”
In 32 games, United have scored 21 times. And for all the progress D.C. have made recently (highlighted by their upset win over Real Salt Lake in the US Open Cup), finishing remains a massive issue.
“It’s progression for us because at the beginning of the season, we weren’t creating anything,” said DeLeon, who left the match in the 70th minute after aggravating a hip flexor injury. “Now we’re starting to do that, we’ve just got to get the finishing touch.”
United took aim at goal 17 times. Four shots found the target, eight were off and five were blocked.
On the other end, D.C.’s defense was solid. For the first time in four matches, D.C. gave up no more than one goal and goalkeeper Bill Hamid (four saves) was spectacular, diving all over the place to deny the Union until McInerney’s dramatic header.
“We’ve just got to score to take the pressure off us a little bit,” Hamid said. “We got into the half, 1-0, which is the plan. But then maybe go in and grab that second because we’re at home and we wanted to jump on them.
“We got the [scoring] opportunities, that’s the positive. But we’ve got [two] games left and we can’t keep relying on positives.”