The Black-and-Red head into Saturday’s game with the Philadelphia looking to improve upon their draw with Montreal at home last week. With the transfer window now closed, D.C. United has the players on it’s roster that will finish out the season. Whether they can get on track and make a run for the postseason or not depends heavily on they group of players they’ve brought in and those that were in house.
The attack has struggled mightily this season outside of a couple of outings, that has put an added pressure on the back line and the routinely heroic Bill Hamid in net. One of the points of emphasis has seemed to be adding more pace the the starting 11, especially in regards to the attack. Last week, D.C. United employed a 4-1-4-1. With the dearth of options out wide and a trio of forwards at their disposal, it makes sense.
Patrick Mullins received his first start last week and scored a goal, he and Alhaji Kamara (hamstring injury) give the Black-and-Red two younger options up top. Alvaro Saborio is still on the roster as well. Both Mullins and Kamara fill those lanes in the box a bit better, giving those players out wide better targets when providing service into the box. One of the issues with the attack, both last year and most of this season has been players not being on the end of those crosses.
It’s a good problem, but a problem none the less as the Black-and-Red have to figure out how to get all of those talented players on the wing on the field. A numbers game, there’s Lamar Neagle, Patrick Nyarko, Lloyd Sam, Kennedy Igboananike, and possibly Chris Rolfe when he returns. Nick DeLeon has also spent some time this season out wide.
One position that the team may be weak at is defensive midfield, with Marcelo Sarvas suspended for this match, Jared Jeffery will most likely take his place. An injury to Sarvas and/or Jeffery affects D.C. United deeply as they are the only two that truly fit that role on the roster. With moves made to bolster the attack, that position is extremely important. It also means that the two central midfielders playing in front of them, may have to do a better job of helping to defend as well. Definitely a surprise that no move was made to bolster that position.
The defense has been good this season, especially when considering the lack of bite in the attack. More often than not, the Black-and-Red squander quality attacking opportunities and rely on bunkering down to stop their opponents from scoring. They’ve surrendered 26 goals this season, five teams have surrendered less. The problem is the differential, D.C. United is -6 in that column. That’s a huge reason for so many draws, just not enough fire power and production from the attack.
As a counter attacking team, it’s imperative that they make the most of their chances. The infusion of pace should help going forward as the wings and outside backs can put pressure on opposing teams.. The onus is on the trio of forwards, can they provide good targets for those services sent into the box and more importantly they must finish those opportunities.
The Black-and-Red weren’t the only team to make a few additions prior to the close of the transfer window. They acquired Alejandro Bedoya from Nantes and traded for Charlie Davies, a familiar face to D.C. United fans.
The Union have had a solid season to this point, they are in fourth place in the East with 30 points. While they are a good team at home, they have struggled mightily on the road this season. It’s unknown whether Bedoya or Davies will be made available to make their debuts tomorrow.
Trailing the sixth place New England Revolution by three points, it’s imperative that D.C. United takes advantage of this home stretch. A couple of consecutive wins would put them from the outside looking in, to in the thick of things in the race for the postseason. Putting even more pressure on this newly constructed attack.