Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen, Dejan Jakovic, and the rest of D.C. United's first-choice defensive corps have struggled of late. Are changes coming?
DC United has conceded eleven goals in just three games. Numbers in soccer can be tricky, but there is no reading between the lines that will make that figure tolerable. Last year's United couldn't score a goal to save its life; to this point, our problems in 2011 have migrated to the other end of the field.
Things are getting tense around the club (being embarrassed in three straight games will do that), and there are signs pointing to changes in the very near future. The Seattle Sounders, fresh off a cathartic 3-0 win over hapless Toronto FC, are a team still in flux after losing starters Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White for an indefinite amount of time. However, Seattle's record at RFK is a perfect 3-0-0, and each visit has seen the Sounders notch a goal in the 84th minute or later. Ben Olsen has some big decisions to make, and if any of them are wrong, the Sounders have the quality to make United pay.
Beyond the jump, B&RU is asking for your opinion concerning the back four and in goal. Do you think it's time for some new faces? Let us know:
Bill Hamid is probably not responsible for the goals United has let in of late, but could his lack of experience be part of the problem (especially when paired with MLS's youngest crop of defenders)? Steve Cronin is not a savior, but he does have several more seasons as a professional to call on, and there's a chance that a more vocal presence will help DC prevent chances before they fully develop. Finally, United's most experienced option, Pat Onstad, seems to be transitioning to a full-time coaching role. However, desperate times call for desperate measures; could Olsen call on the oldest player in league history once again?
Moving on to right back, Jed Zayner struggled quite a bit in his first appearance since the season opener. Considering the fact that he was also subbed off for precautionary reasons after feeling some tightness in the same hamstring he just injured, is he even an option tomorrow? Chris Korb is our best attacking option on either side, and while his defending has not been out of this world, he's been fairly solid most of the time. Rodrigo Brasesco's one appearance at right back (replacing the injured Zayner in the opener) was a respectable showing as well. Another option is that Olsen could ask Ethan White to step in and simply focus on simply defending.
Center back has arguably been our biggest weak spot in the recent poor run; any time you concede three or four goals in a game, your center backs have let you down. Dejan Jakovic had a rocky showing against the New York Red Bulls, and though he was not directly responsible for any of Houston's goals, he still hardly looked like the more steady player he needs to be. Since returning from the US under-20's failed attempt to qualify for the under-20 World Cup, Perry Kitchen has looked distracted, struggling mightily against both NYRB and the Dynamo. White, after a promising start to his career, had a disastrous outing against the New England Revolution in Open Cup qualifying. Brasesco had previously played himself to the bottom of the depth chart, but was adequate against the Revs in that same game.
Left back has been a bit more stable, but then Marc Burch did lose Will Bruin on the goal that gave the rookie a hat trick. Daniel Woolard isn't a world-beater, but the Revs got nowhere attacking his flank. Burch has been our most reliable defender in 2011 (faint praise, I know), but Woolard would add some speed and attacking endeavor to this position. Plus, he looks like Jason Statham.
Feel strongly about one (or all?) of these questions? Upset that we don't have better choices? Wondering how Julius James was not good enough for United but is just fine starting on one of the tightest defenses in MLS? You know where the comments go.