- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

D.C. United is off to its worst start since 1996, making tonight’s game against New England at RFK Stadium even more important.

“What D.C. United team is going to show up?” United midfielder Ben Olsen said after training yesterday. “That’s what we need to find out. It’s a great stage for us to reinvent what we are about and show the nation we are not a 0-3 team. We believe we are not, and it’s time to stop talking about it and show up tomorrow.”

There has been a bunker mentality with the club all week, with training sessions closed to the media as United coach Tom Soehn tinkered with his team in order to find that elusive win.

“Teams go through stretches, good or bad, as do players,” Soehn said. “When you have those stretches, the way you come out is by fighting and scrapping and making sure you take care of the workload. Soccer is a game of mistakes, and those who pounce on mistakes get rewarded. The harder you work the more mistakes you create.”

Changes in the United lineup are likely, and a new defensive formation to fix the leaky back line — which has conceded seven goals — is possible. Defensive midfielder Clyde Simms is back from an ankle injury, and forward Nicholas Addlery, who has impressed Soehn in training, could see more playing time.

“Training dictates who plays,” Soehn said.

With two home games in four days — United plays Chivas USA at RFK Stadium on Sunday — the club needs to come away with at least one win to gain any traction.

“We need a win for so many reasons,” Olsen said. “For confidence, for club morale, for the fans.”

This is the worst start to a season for United since the inaugural Major League Soccer season, when the club went 0-4. In that year however, United went on to win the MLS Cup once coach Bruce Arena sorted things out.

United is slipping in the Eastern Conference and is already 10 points behind the Chicago Fire and the New York Red Bulls, the club’s long-time rival now coached by Arena.

“We go through spurts in games when you see the old D.C. United and what we really are about, but we are not finding that consistency,” defender Bryan Namoff said. “What we need to find is a complete game.”

The signs of United’s fallibility have been there for a while. Despite posting the best regular-season record last year (15-7-10), the club has won only three of its last 17 regular-season outings going back to last year, a fact Soehn made clear to his players this week, according to Olsen.

Last season, United split the four-game season series (1-1-2) with the Revolution but lost to New England in the Eastern Conference championship. The Revolution (2-1-1) are led by former Maryland star Taylor Twellman, who leads the league with four goals in four games.

“The Revolution are a tough team playing with confidence at the moment in their attack, and we will have to stop them early on and let them know they will not have an easy time finding the net,” Namoff said.

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