OK. So. D.C. United has not a won game yet this season. It’s been pretty frustrating. We’ve seen flashes of good, but ultimately the Black-and-Red are struggling to get results.
And look, I’m not trying to sound like a broken record here, but this team is going to have a get a few wins on the road if they want to have a not-terrible season. Usually a draw on the road, a loss here and there, it’s all right in the end. But this year is a weird schedule for DCU and like, seriously you guys, they’ve got to do better.
This week they’re up against Sporting Kansas City, a team with a less bad start to the season who are scoring goals but also, perhaps conveniently for us, are giving up goals. Is this the game where the Black-and-Red turn things around? Or are we in for another disappointing 90 minutes?
Donald Wine II
We have some of our options back from international duty, so hopefully this means we bring a full 18 to Kansas City. Kansas City has played pretty well to start the year, with seven points through their first four matches. We are reeling from another bad loss on the road and have to go back on the road to a place that is traditionally difficult to play. I think this match will be one that is not fun to watch, with not a lot of action. KC scores early in the second half, but then Yamil Asad breaks through in the 82nd minute to level the match. That’s where it ends—a 1-1 draw but with the Black-and-Red still searching for its first win.
Sporting Kansas City’s defense from last season has failed to show up this season. They allowed just 29 goals last season, the lowest number in the league and eight fewer than the next closest team. This year they’ve allowed nine goals thus far, more than 30% of last year’s total in just four matches, and they’ve allowed no fewer than two goals in every match. That should buoy a D.C. team that hasn’t been scoring freely this season. I have a 2-2 draw, with Felipe Gutierrez and Johnny Russel strikes being canceled out by Darren Mattocks and Yamil Asad.
I think we see a focused performance from los Capitalinos in the Heartland this week, with fewer unforced errors at the back. Against the highest-scoring team in the league—still a weird thing to say about the Sporks—that unbroken concentration and engagement will be even more vital than usual. D.C. comes out pressing hard again, but KC isn’t caught off guard. United survive an early counterattack and mount one of their own, Lucho Acosta and Yamil Asad combining to set up Paul Arriola and give the guests an early lead. The Black-and-Red weather a late-half surge from Peter Vermes’s side and go into the break ahead. The second half gets wacky, with a penalty, a sending off, and both teams scoring late on. The important thing is that United finds its way through to its first win of the season, 3-2, allowing us to retire that phrase in future prediction posts this year.
This game will either be kinda fun or won’t be; bold take I know, but I’ll presume that someone saw the tape of last week’s Sporks game with Colorado and saw that their midfield could get drawn in a little bit and beaten for a long ball or two, and assuming that Chris Durkin starts to adjust his game based on that rude awakening last week, it could sort of be made for him a bit, successfully connecting with Yamil Asad on one goal while Darren Mattocks gets fed from Ulises Segura on another. The remaining portion is whether Steve Birnbaum and Fredric Brillant can start working together successfully and I think it’ll be...a mixed bag? 2-2 as Gutierrez and Russel level things (this was just a fancy rewriting of Rick’s guess, I know).
I don’t know, guys, I’m not feeling so hot about this one. I just...my start-of-the-season “we totally got this!!” optimism is waning and the Black-and-Red haven’t given me much reason to up my positivity. I guess it’s good that this team has at least been able to score—and I think they will against SKC—but I’m not sure they’re quite there yet on the “but don’t give up goals” front. So I’m going with a 2-1 loss for the visitors, who will probably go ahead with an Asad goal only to let the home side mount the comeback.
At this point, I don’t know what to expect out of KC at all. Their iron-clad defense, with no changes, is suddenly terrible. Their attack, which could barely score at all last year, can’t stop scoring. They’ve turned into the wacky entertainers of this young MLS season, which is categorically not what Peter Vermes wants.
I’m torn between thinking United can get something from this game (Sporting has looked vulnerable, after all) and expecting more frustration. Luciano Acosta and Yamil Asad connect on an early counter to give United a lead, but the Sporks get back level very quickly through Khiry Shelton. This one feels like it’ll be back and forth, with both goalkeepers impressing. United gets back into the lead after Steve Birnbaum finishes off a scramble in the box, but Felipe Gutierrez levels the scores quickly again. D.C. then wastes a golden chance to grab a late winner, only for KC to break up the field and win the game on a last-gasp Johnny Russell goal. 3-2, we can’t have nice things.
What’s your prediction for tomorrow’s game? Share it in the comments, and behold, your silly poll for the week is below.
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