The Most Frustrating Team in MLS – D.C. United

The most frustrating team in MLS is one that is outshot 25 to one but still wins the game 1-0. It is a team that wins back to back games with 90th minute goals. It is a team that allows six goals in a two game span, but still manages to win both by scoring nine goals in that span. It is a team with no representation at the MLS All Star Game, yet currently leads the Eastern Conference by eight points and the Supporter’s Shield by two points. Outside of the district, D.C. United is the most frustrating team in MLS.

The Most Frustrating Team in MLS – D.C. United

The 20th MLS season has been dripping with story lines that fans and media love to gobble up. From the debut of Orlando City and NYCFC to the power teams of L.A. Galaxy and Seattle Sounders or the arrival of international stars such as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Kaka, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo to the recent additions of Giovani Dos Santos and Didier Drogba, it can be argued that MLS has never been more relevant. Cue in Ben Olsen and D.C. United to ruin the party.

D.C. United has no major star firepower, play in an outdated stadium, and often take a back seat to discussions of who the top MLS teams are. Upon a closer look though, the Black and Red have perhaps the most depth of any team in the league and have significantly improved themselves over the past couple weeks with the addition of Costa Rican international striker and former MLS Cup winner Alvaro Saborio in a trade with Real Salt Lake and the return from injury of goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Their “frustrating” style couldn’t be mistaken for the classic Brazilian style of joga bonito, however, not as much “park the bus” Jose Mourinho Chelsea style either. Ben Olsen has built a team the old fashion way, one that isn’t afraid of playing a physical game, while looking for opportunistic counters. D.C. fans are well aware of this style, as it is the type of game that lead to their championships in the late 90’s and one in 2004.

Unfortunately, today’s MLS and its fans have a difficult time watching D.C. United grind out low scoring 1-0 games when there are teams like L.A., Toronto, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City averaging over 1.50 goals per game.

D.C. has players that are good at what they do, such as having a solid center back tandem in Bobby Boswell and Steve Birnbaum, unfortunately neither of them are named Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler. Perry Kitchen is a fringe national team player, however, he wasn’t part of the U.S World Cup squad in 2014 like Kyle Beckerman or Jermaine Jones were. Chris Rolfe is an important part of the D.C. squad with his ability to score and create chances from the midfield, however, at 32 years of age and with a lack of national team call ups, he continuously goes overlooked by MLS fans.

In a year when league imports have made great contributions in the league, such as Sebastian Giovinco in Toronto, Laurent Ciman in Montreal and Octavio Rivera in Vancouver, D.C.’s international imports included two depth players in Markus Halsti from Finland and Facundo Coria from Argentina. Strikers Fabian Espindola, Jairo Arrieta and Alvaro Saborio are international players as well, but are veterans in the league and no longer draw attention like the new “toys in the bag”, Lampard, Gerrard and Pirlo.

D.C. has frustrated their opponents this season, in a 2-1 win over Orlando City on May 14, United turned two Orlando mistakes into goals, which left Kaka to quip, “There is some moments during the game we can’t lose the concentration. In a game like this, just one detail, you lose the game. That’s what happened.”

Real Salt Lake coach, Jeff Cassar, recently stated after his team gave up six goals to DC that even when they knew what the Black and Red were going to do, they were helpless in stopping them, “We discussed not letting them cut inside, making sure we keep them out wide and we seemed to always allow [Nick] DeLeon and Rolfe to cut in, which is what they want to do. We didn’t adapt well to that.”

As opponents frustration levels rise when they play D.C. United, Ben Olsen and company continue on about their business atop the league’s standings.

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