Can Allsopp's hat trick spark a turnaround?
The last time D.C. United showed signs of a turnaround, the spark came from an unlikely exhibition win over AC Milan, and D.C. went 2-0-1 in its next three league matches.
After going winless in the five games since, United (3-11-3) is hoping for a similar bounce off last weekend's 4-0 thumping of Portsmouth FC, and there is evidence that a more sustained bout of success is possible.
Danny Allsopp had a hat trick against the English club, a testament to his perseverance through an inconsistent first season in Washington. But the one thing the Australian striker has been lacking most of the year has been quality service and offensive support, the solution to which has come via the arrivals of Branko Boskovic and Pablo Hernandez.
Up NextD.C. United at Real Salt LakeWhere » Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UtahWhen » Saturday, 9 p.m.TV » Comcast SportsNet
"For me it's not so much about what Danny gives us," United head coach Curt Onalfo said. "It's more about what collectively Hernandez adds to our team and Boskovic. Even you look at [Santino] Quaranta and how he has just come alive when there's just that quality."
Both of United's new additions have shown ability to possess the ball, allowing a finisher like Allsopp to get into dangerous positions in space and behind opposing defenses.
"I've had my frustrating times, and I've spent a lot of time sitting on the bench," said Allsopp, who has started just over half (9) of United's league matches. "But you just have to keep going."
Boskovic is expected to start but is still working his way up to full fitness and could be limited in the thinner Salt Lake City air. Onalfo said defender Marc Burch (foot) will be part of the Utah travel roster, which could lead to his first appearance of the season. Minor ailments shouldn't prevent defender Dejan Jakovic (hamstring) and Chris Pontius (foot bruise) from being available against Real Salt Lake (9-4-4), which currently is in second place in the MLS Western Conference.
There also are signs that United could be near to signing midfielder Junior Carreiro. The 18-year-old younger brother of former D.C. player Fred has been training with the team for most of the season. Onalfo said the team was "strongly considering" Carreiro.