The Portland Timbers will be back on the pitch tomorrow, taking on D.C. United in the Timbers first home game in the last four weeks. To get an idea of what to expect from the Timbers' latest visitors from the Eastern Conference, we got a hold of Black and Red United's Ben Bromley and he gave us some insight into the current league leaders.
D.C. United are coming off a pair of results that, while slightly better than what the Timbers have gotten, are still somewhat disappointing; how do you explain the 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union and the inability to beat a New England Revolution side playing with only nine men for more than 30 minutes? Are United in trouble?
D.C. United are currently experiencing the other side of the luck that carried them to good results at the beginning of the season. With Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva, and Nick DeLeon all injured, the creative load falls to Chris Rolfe basically alone, and if he can't find a moment of magic there aren't many other players who can just create out of nothing. As these players get healthy, I expect United to continue to play well. And, despite the disappointing performances over the past two games, United still have the best points per game and the most points in the league.
For a club that are on top of the East, United have not scored many goals this season. Why aren't the goals coming reliably and how long can D.C. lean on their defense to keep them in 1st?
D.C. United has been a defense first team these past two years. The arrival of Bobby Boswell completely revamped United's backline, and both Steve Birnbaum and Kofi Opare have been worthy partners for him. And, of course, they play in front of the best goalkeeper in the league in Bill Hamid, who has just signed a new deal with D.C. United. However, the rate of goalscoring obviously needs to improve if D.C. United are to be a true threat this year. The team's top three leading goalscorers from last year are all currently out, with Fabian Espindola and Luis Silva nursing injuries and Eddie Johnson likely to retire. Getting Espindola back in particular is important, but the team cannot rely solely on him.
Both of D.C.'s losses so far have come on the road. Are United vulnerable away from home? Is there anything that changes in how they play outside the confines of ol' RFK?
Unlike how the played in 2012, United hasn't really changed their style much when playing at home versus playing away. However, their recent road trips have been marked with a sort of malaise; it could be from the number of games that they've been playing, but every team has to deal with that. It may also be that their offense has been a revolving door of players so far, and Ben Olsen hasn't been able to get one group of players into a groove. It would certainly help if Chris Pontius, 2012 MLS Best XI, could re-find his scoring touch from that season.
Bonus: lineup prediction?
Bill Hamid; Chris Korb, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp; Sean Franklin, Markus Halsti, Perry Kitchen, Miguel Aguilar; Jairo Arrieta, Chris Pontius