United hope RFK solution for recent woes
A miserable three-game road stretch hindered D.C. United's chances of returning to the playoffs, but they get the benefit of staying home for their final postseason push.
D.C. also is expected to have star midfielder Dwayne De Rosario back on the field for the first of its three straight games at RFK Stadium on Saturday night against the Chicago Fire.
United (9-11-11) have failed to earn a point in three consecutive games - all one-goal losses on the road - and head into the weekend trailing by five points in the race for the final playoff berth. D.C., however, enters Saturday with one more game to play than all other postseason contenders, and all three of its remaining matches are at home as the club tries to end a four-year playoff absence.
"It's pretty clear now what we have to do, so there's a positive," coach Ben Olsen said. "We're going home. We're playing teams that are certainly beatable. It's a big task, but it's one we can certainly do."
Besides the fact his team is 2-0-2 in its last four home games while scoring 13 goals, Olsen may feel further confident about his team's chances because De Rosario appears healthy and ready to contribute down the stretch. Olsen chose to rest De Rosario during a 2-1 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday because he had played the previous day for the Canadian national team in a World Cup qualifying match against Puerto Rico.
"Dwayne has played a lot of soccer this year," Olsen said. "I want him fresh for the weekend. We are going to grind him out for our next three home games, that's for sure."
De Rosario has five goals and two assists in his last four league contests, and his 14 goals this season - with three different clubs - have him in contention for his first Golden Boot.
He'll try to boost his chances for that award while helping D.C. earn its first win in four games against Chicago (7-9-16).
Former Fire forward Josh Wolff scored the tying goal in a 1-all draw Aug. 18, but D.C. fell 2-0 in the only matchup at RFK last season.
Marco Pappa scored one of Chicago's goals in that game but was not available during a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday after playing for the Guatemalan national team the previous night.
The result, which snapped a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1), meant the Fire would have to win their final two games and get plenty of help to reach the postseason.
"We have to give all that we've got in the two games left, then we'll see what happens," forward Dominic Oduro said.
Oduro enters this game as one of the league's hottest players with seven goals over 11 games.