WASHINGTON – D.C. United have hit a slump at the worst possible time.
Over the last few weeks of the season, United have lost three straight games, with Wednesday’s flaccid 2-1 defeat by the Vancouver Whitecaps as the capper.
There’s no time to dwell on the losses, however, as the Chicago Fire visit RFK Stadium on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), and D.C. remain in the hunt for the postseason. And losing those games means that first and foremost, United must take care of business against the Fire this weekend.
“It only helps, really,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “We can stop scoreboard-watching, we can start playing desperate, playing like this is the last game of our season. We should have been playing desperate for a month now, but at times we haven’t.”
After controlling their destiny for long stretches of the season in late September and early October, the three losses have United precariously positioned in terms of playoffs. If they were to lose to the Fire, and other results go against them, D.C. could get knocked out of the playoff picture altogether – but only if Houston, New York and Columbus all win.
Making things trickier for Olsen is the short window to rest after the game in Vancouver, something that the Fire will also contend with after losing on Wednesday at home to FC Dallas.
“We don’t have the luxury of making 11 changes right now,” Olsen said. “We’ll have to get through it and dig down. This is the home stretch and you’ve got to find a way.”
The good news is that Dwayne De Rosario will return to the lineup after missing the Vancouver game while on international duty with Canada.
“He’s had a couple days to really kind of recover and that’s good news for us, for sure,” Olsen said. “It probably worked out for the best that we didn’t have to make any decisions as far as flying him across country and pushing him so he can be ready for the grind this week.”
On the injury front, first-choice center back Dejan Jakovic remains day-to-day, still recovering from a hamstring injury, while rookie Ethan White is available and healthy after sitting on the bench against the Whitecaps.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.