Orlando City will host D.C. United this upcoming Monday on a July 4 match that is sure to produce fireworks at 7 p.m. under the lights of Exploria Stadium. D.C. has struggled so far this season, sitting at the bottom of the MLS standings with 14 points and a record of 4-2-9. Let’s take a deep dive into why United has struggled this year and what strengths that the Lions need to watch for on Monday night.
One reason for United’s problems this year is the lackluster production the team has displayed offensively. D.C. currently sits tied for 22nd in goals scored (18) and this is mainly attributed to the lack of scoring opportunities the club has generated. United has hit league lows in both total scoring attempts (161) and on-target scoring attempts (52), sitting 28th in each category. One reason for the low numbers we see for D.C. in respect to its scoring attempts could stem from the problems it has encountered in maintaining possession. United ranks 20th in average possession (47.2%) this season. The most positive offensive statistical category for D.C. has been assists where it ranks 17th, generating 20 assists as a team this year.
Things have gone no better defensively for D.C., which currently is tied for seventh in most goals conceded (27), which means the club has conceded nine more goals than it has scored (18) this season. Perhaps the biggest cause for concern for the United defense, though, is that it ranks sixth in shots against (83), so the goalkeepers for D.C. will likely continue to face many more attacks from the opposition as the season goes on. Other areas of statistical concern for the United defense have been duel percentage, where it ranks 28th (45.7%), tackles (ranking 26th, with 233), interceptions (18th, 257), and blocks (222) and clearances (294), ranking 17th in each category. The one area where D.C. has shone so far defensively has been in successfully applying pressures on opponents. United is tied for eighth in MLS in successful pressure percentage (29.9%).
Players to Watch
Forward Taxiarchis Fountas has been a great midseason pick-up for United, helping provide a much-needed spark to the offense. Fountas is tied for first on the team in goals (6), as well as ranking first in both total scoring attempts (37) and on-target scoring attempts (15). The one down side to Fountas so far has been efficiency, which can be seen in his accurate shooting percentage of 40.5%, only ranking fifth on the team among players who have played over 200 minutes this season. Forward Ola Kamara is also tied for first in goals scored (6), however, Kamara has been more efficient on fewer shots than what we have seen from Fountas. Kamara is second in both total scoring attempts (18), and on-target scoring attempts (10), however, this makes him first on the team in accurate shooting percentage (55.6%) among players with more than 200 minutes on the pitch.
Defender Steven Birnbaum has been the anchor for the United defense this season. Birnbaum is first in duels won (179) and first in interceptions (34), while ranking second in duel percentage (67.6%) among players with over 200 minutes. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Bill Hamid has been busy in net, facing 51 shots against in his 10 starts this year. On those 51 shots against, Hamid has conceded 16 goals and made 35 saves for a save percentage of 68.6%, which is close to the average save percentage that has been seen for a goalkeeper in MLS play this season.
That is what I could find on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts on the upcoming match in the comments, have a great Fourth of July, and as always, go Orlando!