RFK Stadium 2

D.C. United records watch; one step closer to dubious distinctions

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Ben Olsen made the right call Saturday, for sure, resting all his starters ahead of this week’s U.S. Open Cup final at Real Salt Lake.

Unfortunately the choice could also hasten D.C. United’s place toward history. Here is a quick look at those black marks that Olsen and Co. would surely prefer to avoid, some of the all-time worsts in league history — some of the sad benchmarks for MLS season-long futility:

(MORE: Resting its regular, United falls at Toronto FC)

  • Lowest winning percentage in a season

The 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny finished with a wretched .185 winning percentage in the grim year before if went away (a 4-21-2 record). United’s current .150 percentage (3-21-6) is worse.

Uh, yeah. And the might need to win a couple to scoot by the league’s second lowest historic percentage yet; the 1999 MetroStars and 2005 Chivas USA was both at .219.

The good news is that three of United’s final four matches are at home. The bad news is that all three are against teams that are likely to be desperate for points; Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston all remain alive today in the playoff race.

Oh, United’s one road match is at Eastern Conference contender Sporting Kansas City. That’s hardly encouraging.

  • Fewest wins in a season

Again, the mark to beat belongs (in part) to that dismal 2001 Tampa Bay group, which won just four times. So did Chivas USA in 2005. (United, as noted in the record above, has three wins this year.)

  • Fewest wins on the road in a season

This one is in real jeopardy, although United will have plenty of company … and that is something, at least. Four clubs went an entire season without a road win. Vancouver, just two years back, was the most recent doing so. The 1999 Red Bulls never found a “W” on the road, either.

Not being able to field a competitive team in Toronto today really hurts here, because that’s one for which a full version may have had a shot, at least. Regardless, that coming match at Sporting Park on Oct. 18 is the Black and Red’s final opportunity. The team is 0-13-3 away from RFK Stadium (pictured above) currently.

  • Fewest goals in a season

Here’s one where United can surely get over the hump. With a goal on Saturday (a nice one at that), Olsen’s team has 20 this year. No, it’s not exactly the 98 Galaxy (85 goals, yo!), but the men of RFK need just two more to dodge further besmirch.

D.C. United’s 2010 team holds this particular dubious distinction with 21, back in the club’s previous, most woeful season.

So, four games to score two goals.

C’mon United! … You can do it!

  • Worst goal difference over a season

Uh, more bad news here. Because Saturday’s three-goal loss got Olsen’s sad bunch too close for comfort on this one.

The current miunus-32 goal difference is just four off record pace. Chivas USA in 2005 and Tampa Bay were both at minus-36 after their campaigns of misery. (By the way, the ‘keeper for that awful, first Chivas USA side … none other than current Aston Villa standout and U.S. international Brad Guzan. Just some trivia to lighten the mood; it is a bit dark in here, eh?)

Hull City promoted, but Steve Bruce still considering future

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28:  Steve Bruce, manager of Hull City lifts the trophy after victory in the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final match between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Steve Bruce saw Hull City go down to the Championship, and pulled the Tigers right back up the Premier League.

Hull won promotion at the first time of asking after defeating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 on Saturday, but Bruce wants to see stability at the KC Stadium.

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The club remains up for sale after owner Assem Allam saw his request to change the team name to Hull Tigers denied by the English Football Association.

From the BBC:

“I’ll sit down with the owners. It’s not often you walk away from the Premier League – that’s where I want to manage,” Bruce told BBC Radio 5 live.

“But I have to be given certain assurances that we’re all moving in the right direction.

“I keep hearing too many stories that there’s a takeover imminent. We’ll see what develops,” added the 55-year-old.

The longtime Manchester United back has been around the managerial block a few times, and it’d be nice to see him stay at Hull for the long term. He’s led the Tigers into the Premier League on two occasions, and is — seriously — the seventh longest tenured manager in the Football League. He would enter the Premier League as the second-longest serving manager, to Arsene Wenger.

BREAKING: Olympiacos striker Pulido kidnapped in Mexico

DRENTHE, NETHERLANDS - JULY 29:  Alan Pulido of Olympiacos in action during the pre season friendly match between FC Twente and Olympiacos Piraeus held at Sportpark Veenoord on July 29, 2015 in New Amsterdam and Veenoord, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Terrifying news out of Mexico, where 25-year-old Mexican national team striker Alan Pulido has reportedly been kidnapped in his hometown.

Pulido, 25, has four goals in six caps for El Tri and moved to Olympiacos in 2015, where he scored five goals in eight matches.

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Various reports claim that Pulido and his girlfriend were taken after masked gunmen cut off the vehicle in which they were riding, and only released the girlfriend.

From the Associated Press:

The official says the 25-year-old player was kidnapped near his hometown of Ciudad Victoria on Sunday after leaving a party.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case under investigation.

Klinsmann hails Zardes’ character; USMNT forward likes his first touch

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Gyasi Zardes #9 of the United States Men's National Team controls the ball against Guatemala during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The United States defeated Guatemala 4-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Gyasi Zardes’ remarkable rise from Cal State Bakersfield to fixture on the United States men’s national team is one of the better stories in recent team history.

The USMNT attacker nabbed his fourth and fifth international goals in Saturday night’s blowout of Bolivia, and he’s up to 25 caps since making his debut in Jan. 2015.

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Jurgen Klinsmann deserves some credit for putting the L.A. Galaxy on the field almost religiously as Zardes works on so many facets of his game. He’s improved dramatically in positioning, runs and 1v1 battles and reportedly soaks up information like a sponge. Klinsmann loves the guy, and for good reason.

It’s also important to note that, despite his ever-present status, Zardes remains 24 and a work in progress.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Sometimes it’s perfect, and maybe the next day it’s not so good, but it’s totally fine – because every player has his strengths and weaknesses. So as long as they keep on working on those weaknesses and getting them better and better, it’s totally fine. He’s very straight in his thought process in front of the goal. He knows exactly what he wants to do.

“You have to follow your first thought. That’s crucial. If you start to have two thoughts, then you’re going to get messed up. He was very calm, putting two goals in there, and the whole game he was involved. It’s coming along.”

Zardes’ club goal production dropped last year from roughly a goal every other game to one every three, but he’s been growing as a playmaer and this season has four goals and four assists through 11 matches.

I really like Zardes — see my post calling for his USMNT call-up in 2014 — but let me say one negative thing about his bristling at first touch questions and saying, “To be honest, me personally, I think I have a good first touch”: I’m glad he feels that way and his woes may be a bit overblown, but calling his Saturday goals first touch goals is accurate but kind of hilarious.

The criticism of his first touch, which his betrayed him on major scoring chances in each of the last two USMNT matches, has nothing to do when his first touch is directed at goal. On his brace last night, the first was a good finish where he had to work it past the keeper and the second was a plant foot shot. Both, in fact, were shots.

Those count as your first touch on the ball, but when we discuss first touch it’s about taking the ball off a pass or dribble and possessing it for a purpose. Of course he was right to shoot, but it’s cool if your eyes rolled pretty hard in reading his comments.

Koeman: Manchester United “don’t deserve a medal” for treatment of Louis van Gaal

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Louis van Gaal, Manager of  Manchester United talks to Ronald Koeman, Manager of Southampton during the  Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Southampton, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
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When it comes to the firing of Louis Van Gaal, his countryman has his back.

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman doesn’t like the way Manchester United handled LVG’s fate with the team, firing him within hours of the Red Devils winning the FA Cup.

Like many, Koeman doesn’t buy that the LVG to Jose Mourinho transition happened in a week.

[ MORE: Early and (purposefully) absurd 2016-17 PL predictions ]

Given the gossip mill since Chelsea fired Mourinho in January, that’s not a hard thing to buy, and Koeman is angry that LVG was kept out of the loop. Reports claim that Van Gaal had drawn-up plans for 2016-17 with him on the day he was let go.

From Sky Sports:

“If Louis was not told about getting the sack until after the FA Cup final, then Manchester United as a club don’t deserve a medal for the way they treated him.

“If you know a little bit about the business at the highest level in football, then you know that these kind of deals are not done overnight.”

Koeman hedges his words with conditionals, but there’s little doubt what he means. Managers generally stand together when it comes to dismissals, but it’s nice to see someone stand up for LVG’s treatment (whether he deserved to be canned or not).