D.C. United have struggled with a lot this year. They currently have 18 points, the same as expansion side Minnesota United and one more than trainwreck Real Salt Lake. They’ve only scored 12 goals on 170 shots (FCD has 26 in 167 shots) and their leading scorer is Luciano Acosta with 4 goals. American Soccer Analysis’ xG model has them at an expected goal differential of -8.09, which is better than their actual goal differential of -14. But when you’ve gone 692 minutes without scoring at one point this season and as of June 20th 33 individual players had more assists than your entire team, it’s hard to be optimistic.
Player profile: Luciano Acosta
Acosta is just another one of MLS’s talented Argentinian number tens. He is undeniably the heartbeat of this D.C. United team, and as the closest thing to a designated player D.C. United have (he is paid down with TAM), and therefore is often unfairly expected to carry the attack on his own. He dealt with an ankle injury earlier in the season and D.C. failed to score a goal in two games without him.
He starred in D.C. United’s upset of Atlanta United, scoring a goal as a result of a high press that Acosta and striker Guillermo Ortiz noticed would be effective while watching film. Acosta is part of a generation of players that can no longer just rely on their vision and talent to create chances, but must look for opportunities before the game even starts. Standing at only 5’3”, this isn’t the first time Acosta has had to adapt his game to be successful.
When you’re one of the worst teams in the league and nothing seems to be going right for you; you’re going to have some turn over in the lineup. That makes it really hard to pin down a best or default XI, but expect new signing Deshorn Brown to feature. He’s going to bring a little bit of dynamism to the team. But his speed doesn’t mean that he won’t struggle in front of goal and D.C. have to get him service.
- ST Patrick Mullins OUT (started 5 games in 2017)
- D Bobby Boswell OUT (started 8 games in 2017)
- M Rob Vincent QUESTIONABLE (started 0 games in 2017)
- D/M Nick DeLeon QUESTIONABLE (started 6 games in 2017)
Deshorn Brown is a player Oscar Pareja is familiar with. He drafted Brown 6th overall in the MLS SuperDraft and Brown went on to be the team’s leading goal scorer his rookie season. Brown is known for his speed and explosiveness although it never quite translated into MLS stardom, but after two seasons abroad Brown is back in the league. He will bring some versatility to DC’s attack with his ability to play both up top and on the wing.
Pareja is going to have to plan around Brown’s physical abilities at 6’2” he can be a problem for any center back. Another week without Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman should mean that it’s Maynor Figueroa and Atiba Harris that drop in to center back again. They’ve done very well, but neither of them have the speed necessary to compete with Brown, Pareja may have them drop farther back and abandon the high press to be less susceptible to through balls. Either way the makeshift center back pairing will find themselves more uncomfortable than you would expect when playing the worst offensive team in MLS this week.