D.C. United searching for a spark

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Sports,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer

United needs to find a spark on offense

The approach D.C. United center backs Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic are taking might as well be adopted by their struggling team as a whole.

"We were just scratching our head during the game like, is this real life?" McDonald said of critical mistakes both made in last weekend's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union. "You wanted to wake up from a nightmare. It's just one of those things where you've got to look at the positives. There's nowhere to go but up."

Indeed that's the case for United (1-5-1, 4 points), who have dropped to last place in the MLS standings. Their current four-game losing streak started against the Columbus Crew (2-2-3, 9 points), who they'll visit Saturday with the hopes of getting hold of a season that at the quarter pole is threatening to slip away.

Up next
United at Crew
When » Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where » Crew Stadium,
Columbus, Ohio

The Union pounced on Jakovic and McDonald's errant passes and mental lapses just as the Crew capitalized on United's poor handling of set pieces in their 2-1 win at RFK on March 23. Either way, the team's preparation during the week hasn't produced gameday focus.

"We need to start games off strong, have the right mentality and be concentrated for 90 minutes," Jakovic said.

There are signs that faith in the team's offensive game plan is also wavering. McDonald, who has seven goals and nine assists in his seven-year career, helped create United's first goal against Philadelphia and had a team-high five shots -- a product of desperation, not strategy.

"We have to find a way to connect our backs to our forwards," McDonald said. "From a midfield standpoint, we have to find a way to get these guys more involved and create some kind of possession in the attack. I think a lot of our possession is held within our back line and our defensive mids, and we've got to find a way to push forward and have some possession in their half, create and not be so predictable."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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