Though it seems D.C. United have had little to play for following their US Open Cup victory earlier this month, Friday night’s 1-0 loss against Sporting Kansas City likely injected some extra motivation into Ben Olsen’s group to come away with a victory in their season finale.
That’s because, should United fail to beat the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 27 at RFK Stadium, they would set a record for the fewest victories in an MLS season.
As it was, on Friday United (3-23-7) became the fifth team in MLS history to finish a season without a win on the road (though D.C. did win twice away from home during their run to the Open Cup title) and saw their winless streak extended to 11 matches. No matter what, United are ensured at least a tie for the fewest MLS wins in a season (four) with the Tampa Bay Mutiny (2001) and Chivas USA (2005).
“We haven’t won a game on the road so we were looking to fix that tonight. But, again, it wasn’t so,” Olsen said. “I thought the second half was very good from our group, very positive. We put some young guys in and I thought we understood what it took in the second half. Hopefully we can learn some of the lessons that we’ve been given this year and fix them for next year.”
As they have more times than Olsen, his staff, and his players care to count this season, the gaffes piled up quickly on a chilly night at Sporting Park.
A mishandled back pass by Perry Kitchen that led to Kansas City’s goal. Midfielder Jared Jeffrey’s stutter-stepping one-on-one against goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen that he inexplicably couldn’t hammer home. A GIF-worthy slip by defender Daniel Woolard as he attempted to send a cross into the box.
It all adds to a campaign that folks in D.C. would care to forget about sooner than later.
Jeffrey’s first-half breakaway, United’s only shot on goal, rekindled moments from D.C.’s 1-1 draw against Philadelphia last Saturday where multiple missed opportunities by the attack kept constant pressure on the backline before the defense finally broke in the 90th minute. And though the progression was a different this time, the narrative remained the same. United have three goals in their last five matches and were shut out for the 16th time this year.
“We’ve put a lot of stress on our goalkeepers and backs because we’re not scoring enough goals,” Olsen said. “Everyone will talk about Perry’s mishap, but over the last couple weeks, we’re just not finishing. We’re not dangerous enough with the final ball and with the final finish. So we’ve got to take a little pressure off our defense and our goalkeeper.”