There are mixed emotions on East Capitol Street. DC United is still in first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. The Black and Red’s home unbeaten streak in all competitions has now reached 17 games after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium.
First place and a home unbeaten should be satisfying, and it is, but there is reason for DC United to have frustration to go with its satisfaction. Points lost at home have become a trend. Three of the last four matches at RFK Stadium have ended in draws after United scored the first goal including an especially painfully 2-2 result with the Red Bulls when Lloyd Sam equalized in the 90th minute.
United still shares first place with New England and on 18 points from nine matches has the best points per game average in MLS. Still, to add to the frustration United had a chance to take sole possession of first place after the Revolution lost a two-goal lead on Friday and had to settle for a 2-2 draw in Orlando.
“We prepared for them (Sporting Kansas City) to be much more aggressive, in their usual manner, but credit to them for slowing the game down and making it tough for us to break them down. I think it took a little bit of our energy and hunger away, but a lot of that (their tactics) didn’t change in the second half. We just looked more alive in the second half. “
1. United has multiple combinations. What head coach Ben Olsen described as a “pretty banged up knee” kept Fabian Espindola on the sideline. After two straight games using a productive forward partnership of Espindola and Chris Rolfe, Olsen went with Jairo Arrieta and Chris Pontius in the first eleven. Rolfe moved back to the left flank. Pontius assisted on Arrieta’s goal in the 42nd minute. The goal was against the run of play and the improving pace of Pontius along with the determination and work rate of Arrieta were on display. Luis Silva was also an option to start up top and he came on as a substitute for Arrieta in the 66th minute. While United has multiple options in attack, goals have not been easy to come by. In nine games United has a very average total of 11 goals and against Sporting Kansas City recorded only seven shots and two on target.
2. Wednesday’s match against Orlando is a bigger deal. United’s three-game home stand started with a bang in as 2-0 win over Columbus, but has been muted a bit by the 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City. The stay at RFK ends Wednesday against Orlando City and United needs to get the full three points from a win with three consecutive road matches on the way including a trip to Portland and a meeting with fellow Eastern Conference leaders New England.
[RELATED United battle Sporting KC to tie]