MLS soccer: Offense continues to be an issue as Red Bulls blank D.C. United

April 13, 2013

D.C. United is a bad team right now, and if the course of a troubling season doesn’t turn soon, Coach Ben Olsen is prepared to make changes.

“We’ve got to fix something,” he said following a 2-0 setback against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at RFK Stadium. “I don’t know if we have got to look within the league, I don’t know if we have to make a trade. We have got to get better. We can’t continue down this path.”

United’s rough path took the club to a fourth shutout in six matches and a second loss at home after falling only once in Washington all last season. D.C. (1-4-1) manufactured few quality scoring opportunities and conceded two soft goals in a seven-minute span of the first half before a crowd of 18,019.

The club has scored just twice this season — on a rebound and on a distant shot with the goalkeeper out of position — and placed only 17 shots on target. In the past 16 matches, dating from mid-September, United has scored multiple goals once.

At this point, United would be ecstatic about putting away one.

“We’re doing a lot of things right,” defender Daniel Woolard said, “we’re just not getting goals.”

In his postgame interview session, Olsen expressed confidence in the team’s ability to recover but also was critical of another lacking performance.

He called the attack “pretty poor” and lamented “lapses of concentration.”

“We’re easy to play against,” he added. “We’re not dynamic enough. We’re pretty predictable in the way we go about things. That’s just who we are right now. We have to stay together and dig our way out of it.”

United showed early promise but did not test goalkeeper Luis Robles until Dwayne De Rosario’s free kick through the defensive wall in the 72nd minute. Robles made a diving save and blocked Carlos Ruiz’s follow-up. United stirred in desperation in the waning moments but continued to lack a finishing touch.

“We just have to keep believing in ourselves and what we are doing and stay together,” said De Rosario, who returned from a one-game injury absence and entered at the start of the second half. “It’s still a long season, but sooner or later, I am going to get sick of saying that.”

French star Thierry Henry struck first for the Red Bulls (2-3-2) with a 23-yard effort in the 29th minute. Bill Hamid extended himself, but the ball skipped over his outstretched hand. He took the blame but also pointed to the field.

“I know I could have done better, but come on, something has to be done about that six-yard box — the six-yard box is extremely beat up,” he said. Last week, in complimenting Kansas City’s field, defender Brandon McDonald complained about the RFK surface.

The field had nothing to do with the second goal. In the 36th minute, Juninho whipped in the ball from the left side. Brandon Barklage’s header caromed off teammate Jamison Olave’s hip and into the left corner.

“Somehow, we have got to figure something out,” said midfielder Chris Pontius, a Best XI all-league selection last year who continues to struggle with the ball at his feet. “We have got to be able to put up some goals. We can’t keep having to put up shutouts all the time. We are going to give up goals, and we have to put some away to take some pressure off the defense.”

FC DALLAS 1, GALAXY 0: In Frisco Tex., George John scored in the 87th minute to lift FC Dallas past Los Angeles.

John directed a header into the left corner from less than five yards, then hit the back of his head on the right post, opening a cut.

Dallas improved to 4-0-0 at home and 5-1-1 overall. Los Angeles dropped to 2-1-2.

In the 69th minute Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez slid a few feet to his left to deflect Landon Donovan’s penalty kick. Donovan has scored more career goals against Dallas that any other player with 17.

Donovan made his first MLS start of the season. He took an extended leave of absence following MLS Cup 2012 in December and made his season debut against Toronto FC on March 30 as a second-half substitute.

●SOUNDERS 0, REVOLUTION 0: Seattle failed to deliver on Coach Sigi Schmid’s victory guarantee, tying visiting New England despite dominating most of the play. In remarks to reporters Friday, Schmid promised that the Sounders (0-3-2), off to the worst start in the five-year history of the franchise, would win for the first time this season. New England (1-2-2) has gone scoreless for four-plus games totaling 388 minutes.

TORONTO FC 1, UNION 1: In Chester, Pa., Jack McInerney scored in the second minute of stoppage time to give Philadelphia a tie with Toronto FC.

McInerney, who leads the Union (2-2-2) with four goals, scored about four minutes after Toronto FC’s Ashtone Morgan was ejected with a red card. Morgan accumulated two yellow cards and was sent off in the 88th minute.

Toronto (1-2-3) opened the scoring in the 71st minute when Robert Earnshaw scored his fifth goal of the season, tying him for first in the league with the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Mike Magee.

REAL SALT LAKE 1, WHITECAPS 1: Camilo scored on a penalty kick in the 84th minute to help host Vancouver tie Real Salt Lake (2-3-2). Camilo scored after having four shots stopped in the first half as the Whitecaps (2-2-2) earned a point in their first home game since March 9.

— Associated Press

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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