In search of their first road win of the season, D.C. United’s remarkable five-match, 17-day onslaught of action comes to an end Sunday against Colorado.
A lineup that’s been injury-riddled all season will be without two key attackers once again as captain Dwayne De Rosario and winger Nick DeLeon were ruled out for Sunday evening’s match (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“Injuries have definitely hurt us this year, but it’s not an excuse,” said United midfielder Perry Kitchen. “We have the players to step in and fill the roles.”
United’s mix of poor play, mental mistakes and injuries have planted the club firmly in last place in MLS with a record of 2-13-3. After being shut out in Seattle on Wednesday, D.C. have still only scored on road goal this year and have slid back into an uncomfortable form.
For a while, it appeared as though things were turning around as D.C. ended a club-record 13-match losing streak last month and won three Open Cup matches. But losses to Vancouver and Seattle have appeared to lower spirits a bit at the end of a grueling stretch of matches.
“It is frustrating, but we are not playing ourselves out of the game,” center back Ethan White said following the Seattle match. “We are losing 1-0, so if we can get one goal or not give up a goal then we are still in it, but we are missing a little something. I feel like we are getting better, but there is still something we have to get.”
What that “something” is has fluctuated throughout the year, but a constant has been the team’s inability to generate consistent offense. While coach Ben Olsen has been pleased recently with the creativity and buildup, the finishing ability and final balls have been woeful and D.C. have just eight goals in 18 matches.
One of the bright spots for United over the past few weeks has been the play of Alain Rochat. Acquired from Vancouver in a trade, Rochat has filled the outside back and defensive midfielder role with a steadiness that’s been lacking for United.
“He’s a great guy off the field and I think he’s been getting along with everyone,” said goalkeeper Joe Willis. “On the field, he’s unbelievable. Watching him with the ball, he’s so calm, whether he’s playing left back, center back or center mid, he’s definitely an asset to our team.”