Black-and-Red hunting for a victory
WASHINGTON -- D.C. United have won just one road match this season. But the Black-and-Red are hunting a victory in their trip to New England this weekend as they grow impatient with their ongoing accumulation of draws in league play.United occupy second place in the Eastern Conference standings and sustained their seven-game league unbeaten streak (nine games overall) with last week's 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake at RFK Stadium. But the result was as unsatisfying as any to date and with seven draws already on their books, D.C. recognizes the need to garner points with more efficiency, starting with Saturday's contest at Gillette Stadium."We feel like we always play New England pretty well, even on the road. That's something that we want to continue to do," said holding midfielder Clyde Simms. "Chicago just took over first place this weekend, and we're realizing these ties aren't helping so much, so we're definitely going in looking to get three points. It's always fun playing against those guys -- they battle hard."With an eye towards rejuvenating tired legs, United coach Tom Soehn gave his squad a rare two days off after their jaded display against RSL."Sometimes it could be one or two players fatigued," said Simms, whose parents visited from North Carolina over the holiday weekend. "But we felt like that energy was kind of lacking all over the field and we're trying to figure out some things. But we just got two days off, and I think that will help a lot. Some guys got to get away a little bit."While D.C. took heart from a defensive display that resulted in their third clean sheet of the campaign last weekend, the attack mustered only one shot on the RSL goal and will surely need to produce far more intensity and invention to break down the Revolution. But to hear Soehn tell it, his side's preponderance of draws offers signs of a growing psychological tenacity."Part of our mentality is, we're not going to give up games. Obviously there's good ties and bad ties," he said on Tuesday, "but in the end, you want to make sure that we're not losing games, and that's got to be a mentality."Soehn compared Real's guarded approach to the one used by the Revs in their 1-1 draw at RFK last month and though he predicted greater ambition from New England at Gillette, he made clear that he expects more from his frontrunners."This isn't the first team that came in and bunkered against us," he said of RSL. "New England did a similar job and we were able to break them down because the movement off the ball was so good. In this game, our movement was stagnant. We weren't working off each other and it showed by the amount of chances we created."The D.C. attack is sure to feature at least one alteration, as playmaker Christian Gomez has not made the trip to Massachusetts due to a bruised toe. His role could be filled by any number of candidates, including Fred, Chris Pontius, Santino Quaranta or Jaime Moreno.Meanwhile, the Revolution continue to battle an injury epidemic that has forced coach Steve Nicol to be creative with his lineup choices, most notably using midfield enforcer Shalrie Joseph as a striker. But star striker Taylor Twellman, heretofore a victim of a frustrating neck problem, looks increasingly likely to make his first appearance of the season on Saturday and if past history is any indicator, Nicol will have another wrinkle or two in store for the visitors."At home, they play a little different than they do on the road. Whether they keep Shalrie up top or Twellman comes back, we'll see that as the week draws out," said Soehn. "But we've had success there and we've played against them so many times, their philosophies of how they play have always been similar. I think it always turns into a pretty exciting game."