WASHINGTON – There’s been tremendous improvement over last season for D.C. United in several aspects, but the inability to capitalize at home has cost them valuable points.
On the upside, the club has scored 19 goals in 14 games overall, which is only two fewer than they scored all of last year. On the defensive side of the ball, there have even been signs of progress, though scattered between some shaky performances that highlight the inexperience of a young back line.
However, while those improvements under first-year coach Ben Olsen (pictured above) are positive, the team knows that in order to make a playoff run, it needs to start picking up wins at home on a regular basis.
United will look to do that this Saturday when they play host to the Houston Dynamo (6 pm ET, Telefutura).
With a record of 2-2-3 at home thus far, DC have been largely unsuccessful at preserving the leads their offense gives them.
“We’re creating chances at home, [but] we’re not doing well enough at the back,” defender Ethan White told MLSsoccer.com. “On the road we come out and try and fight and make the teams change the way they play.”
Away from RFK, DC have shown a real commitment to defense over the last few games. However, they have failed to repeat that at home, conceding four goals—including three to Steven Lenhart—in their last home outing, a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on June 11.
“[We] just [need to be] a little sharper in the final third and the same on the other end,” Olsen said.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Saturday’s match begins another two-game stretch at home against Eastern Conference opposition, which means a chance to climb up the standings in the hunt for the playoffs.
“We can’t keep that mentality where we do well away then we come home and think it’s going to be easy because we’re … in front of our fans,” goalkeeper Bill Hamid said.
“We really need to buckle down, and tune in for a whole 94 minutes,” Hamid added. “Not just 90; every single second of the game, extratime—and definitely buckle down in our own final third.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.