DC United went through an overhaul this offseason in an attempt to reinvent themselves after a historically bad 2013. So far the result of those changes has been a repeat of the same outcomes however. An 0-2 start after an opening day 3-0 slapping from Columbus at home and a 1-0 road defeat at Toronto shows very little improvement from this year to last. That can be expected with the amount of turnover in the roster and change in the starting eleven but they haven't shown much in terms of hope for the immediate future either.
Midfield play has been woeful and they've only been able to muster three shots on goal. Yes.....three shots on goal...as a team. DC has allowed more goals in two games than attempts that they've been able to get on frame themselves. They did manage to maintain a 62-38 possession advantage against TFC last weekend but did absolutely nothing with the ball in attempting a measly six shots on goal. Only two of those tries were on target.
Defensively their four man midfield with Perry Kitchen acting as the sole holding mid with Luis Silva at the top and Nick DeLeon and Davy Arnaud on the outside was picked apart by the Crew. Toronto had some success creating chances as well although they only scored once. At some point Ben Olsen, who should be one of the first coaches on the hot seat this season, will need to get Kitchen some help. How he does that without detracting from an already anemic attack is a problem with no easy solution.
From the Fire's end it seems likely that Frank Yallop will keep the starting eleven similar to the one that drew against New York last weekend. Lovel Palmer has one more game to sit out due to suspension and Gonzalo Segares still has not healed from an ankle injury suffered against Portland. Patrick Nyarko is available after serving a one game mandatory red card ban but Harry Shipp will be hard to displace from the eleven.
Possible line ups
Fire: Johnson; Cochrane, Soumare, Hurtado, Watson; Joya, Larentowicz, Alex, Shipp; Magee, Amarikwa
Top subs: Duka, Rolfe, Nyarko, Ianni
DC: Hamid; Cristian, Parke, Boswell, Franklin; Arnaud, Kitchen, Silva, DeLeon; Espindola, Johnson
Top subs: Martin, Jeffrey, Attakora, Porter
The Fire need to find a bit more width and Joya isn't a natural outside player. If Dilly Duka is fully fit, Yallop could slot him back into the line up on the left side. Nyarko will probably need to earn his way back in considering Shipp's progress and two difficult outings to start the season. He could be dangerous off the bench if he's back on form. Matt Watson and Greg Cochrane were good enough against New York to get on the field again this week.
Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson would appear to be a tandem capable of creating some chances but both have been next to invisible through two games. A lot of that may have to do with the lack of service from midfield where they are missing Chris Pontius' presence due to injury. Arnaud ran into the considerable cranium of Michael Bradley last weekend and Kyle Porter could step into his place.
Fire - OUT: Steven Kinney (hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: Gonzalo Segares (ankle sprain)
DC - OUT: Chris Pontius (L hamstring), Jalen Robinson (L hamstring), Chris Korb (L knee surgery), Conor Shanosky (L wrist)
Winning on the road is not easy in MLS but it's better to catch DC early rather than later in the season when they've had a chance to blend in all of their changes. If the Fire can pressure them up the middle with Alex getting forward in link up play with Magee and Shipp they'll force Silva to drop back and get Kitchen some help. Olsen will need to adjust what they've done over the first two games if they want to turn things around.
I don't think this is the week that happens.
Fire 1 DC United 0
The rest of the league
Philadelphia 2 Montreal 1
Colorado 1 Sporting KC 1
Vancouver 2 Houston 1
FC Dallas 1 Portland 0
Real Salt Lake 1 Toronto FC 1
Seattle 2 Columbus 1
San Jose 1 New England 0
New York 1 Chivas USA 0
Season Record 8-17