Hernan Losada has acknowledged he needed to realize the time it would take to implement his playing style at D.C. United, though believes his team have now firmly settled into his ways.
D.C. struggled for consistency at the start of the season but are now unbeaten in five games and have won three of those.
They sit sixth, firmly in the running for a playoff spot ahead of Sunday’s clash with fifth-placed Nashville SC, and Losada is excited as to what the rest of the season could bring.
“As a young coach, full of energy like me, you start and you want everything after a few weeks and that was something that I needed to understand – that I was arriving to a new culture, to a new club, a new mentality, a new league where different aspects play a big role, like the weather, the traveling,” Losada said.
“And I also needed to realize that this team, and not only this team, but the whole competition came from a very tough year last season where there were many breaks and the offseason was longer than ever.
“For some players, the beginning was tough, but you need to start somewhere and we did a lot of changes. Little by little, we started to find that balance between pushing too hard, being fit, nutrition, a mental coach and at a certain point, everything can together and we started to get results.”
Nashville coach Gary Smith also believes Losada has now fully got to grips with MLS.
“In the early part of the season, it looked like the team were getting used to some of the ideas and maybe some of the tactical shifts,” Smith said.
“But they’re grounded into form, they are a very energetic, high-pressing, high-energy group. I’m sure he feels as though they’re in a very nice place.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nashville SC – C.J. Sapong
C.J. Sapong has scored seven goals against D.C. United in his MLS career, tied for the most he’s scored against any opponent (also Columbus Crew, New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls). Sapong scored at least one goal against D.C. in each of the last four seasons (2017-20).
D.C. United – Ola Kamara
Ola Kamara has scored in five straight matches, becoming the second D.C. player since 2000 to do so.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Former D.C. player Luciano Emilio had two separate streaks of scoring in at least five matches in a row, doing so in five straight in June-July 2007 and six straight in May-June 2008.
– D.C. is unbeaten in five straight matches (W3 D2), including winning the last two in a row.
– D.C. has lost just two of its last 11 matches (W6 D3) after losing seven of the previous nine dating back to the end of last season.
– Nashville defeated D.C. United, 1-0, at Audi Field in September 2020, the only previous meeting between the sides. Daniel Ríos scored the game’s only goal on a 70th minute header.
– Nashville suffered just its second defeat of the season on Sunday, losing, 2-1, at Inter Miami. Nashville hasn’t lost consecutive matches since its fifth and sixth league games in August 2020.