- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

D.C. United finds itself last in the Eastern Conference headed into tonight’s game against the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium.

That’s what a prolonged scoring drought will do to a team, even Major League Soccer’s defending champion.

“I would love everybody to score the goals,” said coach Peter Nowak, whose team has won just two of seven at RFK. “Last season we had everyone scoring goals, from [defenders] Mike Petke and Bryan Namoff. It doesn’t matter who scores the goals but how we score the goals.”

United has failed to score in its last three games and clearly outplayed San Jose and the MetroStars on the road in its last two. But because it failed to score, United had to settle for two points after two scoreless ties instead of three times that many points and two wins.

United (3-4-4, 13 points) pounded the MetroStars with a club-high 28 shots in Sunday’s game at Giants Stadium. Some players said it was the best the team played all year, but that made no difference on the scoreboard.

“A goal would help, and a goal helps individuals, too,” United midfielder Ben Olsen said. “In basketball, they say the net is too small. Right now the goal net is small for us, but when you start scoring goals it will open up, and everyone can feed off it. We just need that first one, and someone will step up.”

That someone could be striker Alecko Eskandarian, the club’s leading goal scorer last season and the hero of the 2004 MLS Cup, in which he scored twice. The speedy forward has not scored this season, though he has taken 20 shots (eight on goal) in 10 games.

“It’s a little frustrating, but I’ve been playing soccer my whole life, and there are ups and downs,” Eskandarian said. “… Right now for some reason [goals] are hard to come by, so I know the first one for me is going to be a big one, and hopefully they will start pouring in.

It won’t be easy against the Fire (7-5-1, 22 points), who have won three in a row after beating FC Dallas 2-0 on Sunday. Still, United probably needs to get something out of the game considering the unbeaten New England Revolution come to town Saturday.

“It’s important to score the first goal and put pressure on [the Fire] and see if they can beat us at soccer rather than working hard,” Eskandarian said.

In its last visit to RFK, Chicago earned a 1-1 tie in United’s home opener April 9.

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