The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

D.C. United’s offense is starting to click

D.C. United’s Fabian Espindola leads the team with four goals in eight games this year. ( John McDonnell/The Washington)

To say goals were hard to come by in 2013 for D.C. United would be an understatement.

In 34 games — only three of which were wins — the team scored a total of 22 goals, a dismal average of .65 per game.

In 2014, though, United has managed to right the ship offensively.

With 12 goals in eight games, United is already more than halfway to its total for last season. The team didn’t score multiple goals in back-to-back games in 2013, but United has already accomplished the feat twice this year.

To understand why goals have been so much easier to come by, the place to start is with set pieces. D.C. United leads the league with four goals off corner kicks and has added another off a free kick.

New center back Bobby Boswell has been United’s main threat off corner kicks, assisting on goals against Chicago and New York, and scoring one himself off a corner against FC Dallas.

The other key to the puzzle has been Fabian Espindola, acquired in the offseason. The Argentine striker’s service off corner kicks has been crucial, and he scored D.C. United’s free-kick goal against Chicago.

Espindola has four goals on the season already. The team’s co-leading scorers in 2013 only managed three.

Although the surge in goals from corner kicks and free kicks is welcome, it’s not realistic to expect the team to continue scoring more than .5 goals per game on average from set pieces.

Eddie Johnson, the marquee offseason addition, has yet to score his first D.C. United goal. If he doesn’t get it Saturday against Philadelphia, it might be a while. He’s expected to receive a call-up to the U.S. national team’s pre-World Cup training camp following the game.

If Johnson impresses at the camp, he could be off to Brazil. His teammates, as they’ve been doing so far in 2014, would have to continue picking up the slack.