A few hundred yards away from the fleeting shadows of RFK Stadium, D.C. United braved brutal temperatures as the team hit the training field this week in search of a way up from the bottom of the MLS standings. The team’s offense was woefully off target in the first half of the year, and it must find a way to finish before its season loses meaning.
“The time is now for us. We’ve got a sense of urgency,” left back Taylor Kemp said Thursday. “This next month will define our season.”
Out of 22 MLS teams, United ranks 15th in both shots (221) and shots on goal (76) but has scored five fewer goals (14) than any other side. After a two-week midsummer respite to allow players to report to CONCACAF Gold Cup duty, United will face Seattle at hostile CenturyLink Field on Wednesday.
Due to injuries and inconsistency, Patrick Mullins, Jose Ortiz, Sebastian Le Toux, and Deshorn Brown have all started up top for United this season. Without a reliable lineup, United has gone 5-11-3 and been shut out 12 times. Ten MLS teams have scored at least twice as many goals as D.C.
“There’s frustration. There’s a bunch of competitive guys in that room,” Kemp said. “But I am confident that guys know where we are and what needs to be done.”
With 15 games to play, United is in last place in the Eastern Conference but just 10 points from the sixth and final playoff spot. D.C. has made the postseason in three consecutive seasons, so there’s still hope that RFK could host another playoff game before the team opens Audi Field in 2018.
“Where the East is right now, it’s not like these teams are out of reach,” Kemp said. “So the situation is not dire, but we are reaching the point where it’s now or never this next month.”