United seek end to skid in match at Richmond
It will end up as an opportunity to get away from historic regular-season struggles or a reminder that no matter the opponent, there's still a long way to go.
Either way, D.C. United will take a break from its franchise-record 10-game winless streak Tuesday to visit the Richmond Kickers in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. United (1-9-2) is increasingly straining under the weight of its failures so far in 2013 while the Kickers, their minor-league affiliate, are yet to lose this season (5-0-3).
"It's the most frustrating position I have ever been in, in my career," United forward Chris Pontius said after a 2-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers on Saturday. "All I can do, all the team can do is keep getting better. It eats away at every single person in this locker room; it's not a fun position to be in."
|U.S. Open Cup|
|United at Kickers|
|When » Tuesday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » City Stadium,|
United coach Ben Olsen said he was embarrassed and promised roster changes. ("Found me a new home," trialist midfielder Sainey Nyassi said Monday on Twitter.) D.C. has the fortune, or the pressure, to play a game it is supposed to win.
"I look at it as an opportunity to win a cup," Olsen said. "That's how I always look at the [U.S.] Open Cup, and we'll go after that as vigorously as we can. We'll evaluate who's healthy and ready to go. Yeah, we take that very seriously."
While mostly reserves are traditionally used in the knockout-style U.S. Open Cup by MLS teams, at least a few pieces of Olsen's first team could be available to play significant minutes, partly due to the need for a positive result and partly due to Olsen's controversial lineup choice against the Timbers last weekend. Dwayne De Rosario played only 29 minutes after being left on the bench, a move he said was because Olsen didn't believe he was a good fit to play alongside Carlos Ruiz, who made his first start in a United uniform.
"There's talent in this locker room, but I don't know if we're using it to the best of its ability," De Rosario said.
D.C. could also call on the services of three players that have played many of their minutes this season for the Kickers: Casey Townsend, Taylor Kemp and Conor Shanosky. Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra and 17-year-old forward Michael Seaton, however, have been allowed to remain with Richmond for the tournament. They played in the Kickers' most recent league match, a 2-0 victory over Harrisburg City on Friday in which Seaton scored his second professional goal.
Richmond's leading scorer, Joseph Ngwenya (seven goals in all competitions) also played most recently in MLS for D.C. United in 2011.
United owns a 5-4-1 edge all-time against the Kickers, including a 2-1 overtime victory in last year's U.S. Open Cup courtesy of a goal by Marcelo Saragosa.
The winner of Tuesday's match will host the winner of a match between MLS' Philadelphia Union and the USL Premier Development League's Ocean City Nor'easters in the fourth round on June 12.