There is plenty of blame to go around for a D.C. United team that has produced just two goals in five games, tied for second fewest in MLS.
But Lionard Pajoy's struggles in front of the net are the most glaring, not only because he's United's starting target forward but also because they aren't new.
"I believe in Lio," United coach Ben Olsen said. "I believe that he can get a little bit of confidence. All it takes is one goal. But it hasn't been good enough. He knows that, and he's pressing to get one. Keep in mind, a lot of other guys haven't scored on this team, too. So for everybody to look at Lio right now as the reason we are not scoring goals is a little unfair. Certainly not completely unfair."
Pajoy, who was maddeningly inefficient for Philadelphia at the start of last season before being traded to United in August, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake on March 9. But he squandered a clear opportunity in United's 1-0 defeat at Sporting Kansas City on Friday. It was a crucial blown chance for a team that has struggled to generate an offensive presence, particularly with injuries to some of its best attacking players.
Midfielder Dwayne De Rosario (adductor strain) jogged during practice Monday and hopes to play against New York (1-3-2, five points) on Saturday.
"The main thing is just creating more in the attacking third," De Rosario said. "I think we've got to do a better job of that, playing with a little more joy going forward and taking a little more risk going forward."
Despite the slow start, United (1-3-1, four points) has just one fewer point that it did through five games last season.
"If you look around the league, it's pretty poor right now," Olsen said. "Everybody's trying to find themselves from what I've seen. There are a few teams that are ... solid and going to continue to rack up points, but the rest ... of the league is still finding out who they are. ... The key early in the season is to pick up points while you're still trying to find that rhythm. That's what was disappointing the other night."