Yamil Asad - DC United - close crop
USA Today Sports Images

Yamil Asad: DC United need to change defensive tactics and play "good soccer"

Yamil Asad, during his first two seasons in MLS, had 16 goals and 21 assists across 62 matches with Atlanta United and D.C. United

But the Argentine winger, during his second stint with the Black-and-Red, isn’t doing much attacking as of late. D.C., facing a long list of injuries, have opted for defense-first tactics, especially in last weekend’s 0-0 draw at home against NYCFC. They became the second MLS team to complete a regular-season match without a single shot on target.

Given that undesirable fact, Asad is hoping for more forward-thinking play as D.C. prepare to host the New York Red Bulls this Saturday at Audi Field (7 pm ET | TV & streaming info).

“To me it's clear that something has to change to score,” Asad, a native Spanish speaker, said in English. “It's too hard for me or for any midfielder or winger if you play in your half, too much closer [to your goal]. It's too hard to get a high position, a high level to play, be close to the other guys to connect some passes. But how I say before, we have to change something from here to the rest of the season to get opportunity, to get [goals] and results.”

D.C. have taken four of six points from their last two games, including a 1-0 win at the Red Bulls on Sept. 2 behind a stoppage-time game-winner from Erik Sorga. But they also have just one win in their last eight matches, including a group-stage exit from the MLS is Back Tournament.

On the injury front, US men’s national team midfielder Paul Arriola is recovering from a torn ACL he sustained in February and marquee offseason signing Edison Flores is out for a few more weeks after suffering multiple facial fractures. Forward Ola Kamara and midfielder Julian Gressel haven't quite performed as expected either, combining for two goals and one assist. Even still, fullback Oneil Fisher hopes for more expansive ideas.

“Playing so defensive, it's tough to play that way,” Fisher said. “I don't think anybody likes to play that way, but we have to embrace what we're doing right now and try to work together as a team, as a group, as a club to see it out.

“We have a couple more games, we just have to stay focused on what the coaches want and just focus on what the task is at hand. It's not easy, as I said, and we're just grinding it out. That's basically what it is, we're just grinding it out to see what the outcomes are and how we can move forward for the rest of the year.”

It raises the results vs. style debate, though it’s clear that D.C.'s players desire a change. That's especially true for Asad, who's an attack-minded midfielder by trade.

“I think the last couple games we are thinking more to be a defensive team, and that is not great for us, for the midfielder, the forward because we are too far from the opening score,” Asad, whose only goal in 2020 came off a penalty kick, said. “We have to work, we have a lot of work to do during the week, during the next week after this game. I know we have to get our results right now, the next weekend, but we have to think [about] the rest of the season. Not only to play this weekend or maybe the next game, we have to at least try to play in the high level and good soccer."