Washington, D.C. – D.C. United has just 15 wins in its last 67 matches, a stat fueled by just seven home wins in a stretch that started at the beginning of the 2010 season.
United has not resembled the record four-time champion that dominated MLS when it was in its infancy, and for Ben Olsen to start a turnaround in his second full season as coach, D.C. needs to produce wins at RFK Stadium.
United is just 7-17-9 at home over the last two-plus years, as it started this season with a last-minute 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City at home.
So when FC Dallas visits Friday night, United needs a win to prove RFK will be a tough place to play, and because it's winless overall so far this season.
United (0-2-1) earned its first point of the young season last weekend, and it came on the road via a 0-0 draw against unbeaten Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
FC Dallas (1-1-1) suffered its first loss of the season last week to Sporting, 2-1, but will be more dangerous if winger Brek Shea returns from U.S. Under-23 team national team duty.
Olsen also welcomed the end of Olympic qualifying for the United States, as he got defender Perry Kitchen back. But United also lost goalkeeper Bill Hamid to an ankle injury on international duty, and he will miss one to three weeks.
But with the season already three weeks old, and just one point in the table, Olsen knows United needs to start earning points fast.
So far, 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario has been relatively silent without a goal or assist, but no squad wants to be the opposition when he finally breaks out. He had 16 goals and 12 assists last season.
De Rosario believes the club has to play with more confidence at home, and the positive results that followed his move to United last season will continue.
"I think last year I saw a little bit of tentativeness when we were playing at home," De Rosario said on the club's website. "I don't know if it was because guys were a little timid with the passion of the fans, but we as players need to embrace it and feed off that energy."
United's Robbie Russell also believed "it's important for us to defend RFK and show our home fans what we are about."
"When we talked team goals for this year, the first thing is we need to win at home," added D.C. midfielder Stephen King.
While coach Schellas Hyndman could easily slot Shea back into the lineup, the availability of Ricardo Villar will also be crucial after he bruised his ribs last week against Kansas City.
Villar has two goals and an assist this season to provide most of the attack with Shea and 2010 MVP David Ferreira absent. Villar has drawn attention from opponents early and admitted the physical level of the league was something he needed to adjust to as his first season in MLS continues.
"I've just got to stay stronger when I have the ball," Villar said. "(I) just have to be quicker to move it and hopefully when play is open, I can pass the ball ... Keep going and protect myself, there's nothing else you can do."
Dallas also needs to get its defense figured out, as the it has not posted one shutout this season yet after Kevin Hartman lead MLS with 13 last season. It's early in the year, but a clean sheet could provide the confidence FCD needs in the back to return to last year's form.