Is DC doomed to failure or can it find the catalyst to turn this season around?
DC coach, players and staff all decried a woeful second half display in their recent loss to Red Bull this Saturday.
It leaves DC United floundering near the foot of the Eastern Conference with only Chicago buffering them from bottom place.
DC will resume their MLS campaign in Chicago in three weeks time as US soccer heads into a mid-season international break.
The USMNT will play two friendly matches in the meantime, first against Morocco in Cincinnati and then Uruguay in Kansas City.
Interim coach Chad Ashton will have mixed feelings heading into the break after DC endured a miserable May campaign.
Ahead of the tie against Red Bull Ashton proclaimed “You definitely don’t want to have a bad taste in your mouth for that length of time.” But Ashton definitely will.
Although with a chance to regroup, it could be the turn around that DC and Ashton are looking for.
It’s no surprise that a wide range of betting sites in the USA aren’t looking too favorably on DC’s season so far but there is time to turn it around.
One positive point for DC is that form across the Eastern Conference has been shaky throughout the ranks, with only a matter of fifteen points between top and bottom.
With a game in hand and favorable results on their side, a win against Chicago on June 18 could see them leapfrog five teams to reach within one place of the playoff positions.
First and second placed New York City and Philadelphia Union are currently favorites to win the Eastern Conference outright but even their form is also inconsistent.
This inconsistency could provide the break that Ashton and his side need to kick on in a fashion that DC fans have become more accustomed to in recent years.
The defeat against Red Bull represents the second time in a month that DC have lost by a three goal margin to one of their biggest rivals.
Earlier in the month DC were defeated 0-3 at home to Red Bull when they were kicked out of the US Open Cup. It was a defeat that definitely stung, but the distractions of a cup run and the tunnel vision of solely focusing on the league campaign will be welcome at this stage.
Chad Ashton was ruing the loss of key marksman Taxi Fountas against Red Bull on Saturday. The Greek international has been a key creative outlet for DC this campaign and without him they have been looking more than a little lost.
After the break DC have a straight run of matches until the end of July when they meet European giants Bayern Munich.
DC will host the German Bundesliga champions on 20 July at Audi Field as part of a wider set of fixtures that sees MLS sides meet the likes of Barcelona, Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal.
In a longer term sense DC will be hoping for positive recruitment to bring in more players of Taxi Fountas’s caliber. Promoting youth will also be key.
Philadelphia Union are one team who have successfully implemented such a system. Their most recent graduate Brenden Aaronson has just signed for Premier League team Leeds United.
It is unclear whether Union will profit from a percentage of the $27 million transfer fee. This is something DC United will no doubt try to emulate, but first they need to dig deep, drill hard and get their season back on track.
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