This was not what D.C. United envisioned for the start of its 2013 campaign.

Instead of picking up where it left off, on the heels of a deep playoff run, United has stumbled out of the gates, winless in its past five matches and mired at the bottom of the league standings with a 1-5-1 record and a league-worst four points. Only surprise struggler Seattle and New England have scored fewer goals per game than United’s four in seven matches (.57 per contest).

Combined, Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius have no goals and just two assists, and with second-year winger Nick DeLeon still out with a hamstring injury — one suffered against the Crew back on March 23 — the club has often lacked answers for its troubles.

Coming off of consecutive home losses to regional rivals and conference foes New York and Philadelphia, team psyche is fragile heading into Saturday’s away clash with the Columbus Crew.

Crew Stadium is not exactly a place where United can be expected to turn its fortunes around, either. The club has not won there since 2007, and Columbus is riding an 11-game home unbeaten streak. Even so, Columbus, coming off a 1-0 loss to Chicago that snapped its four-game unbeaten run, won’t take anything for granted.

“They have weapons, it just seems like they’re not clicking for some reason,” Crew defender Josh Williams told the Crew’s official website. “We need to focus on their weapons and shutting [De Rosario] and Pontius down. We won’t take them lightly.”

The Last Time They Met

Columbus snapped D.C. United’s 19-game home unbeaten streak with a 2-1 victory on March 23. United forward Rafael marked his MLS debut with a 35-yard strike to level the score, but Columbus went ahead through Ben Speas’ 58th-minute goal to walk away with the three points at RFK Stadium.