Major League Soccer

Hernan Losada keeping DC United focused on 'fun' despite playoff race

Chris Smith
Only the New England Revolution have outscored DC United in the Eastern Conference this season.
Only the New England Revolution have outscored DC United in the Eastern Conference this season. / Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We've reached the business end of the MLS regular season but for Hernan Losada's DC United team, the focus remains on "having fun".

The Black and Red head into the weekend fifth in the East and though there is just a point separating them from Atlanta United below the playoff line, it's a marked improvement from the 13th-place finish they posted last season.

Given the fine margins at play in the race to make the post-season, you might expect some tension from DC United and their head coach ahead of Saturday's testing trip to Nashville.

Instead, Losada is keen to keep the shackles off, dancing with the one that brought them, so to speak.

"My message is: Let's have fun. Let's enjoy the moment," Losada told reporters (via "The players put themselves in this beautiful spot where we are fifth in the East and everything's very tight. There's a lot of competition and quality so there's no stress, there's absolutely nothing to lose."

He added, "We are overperforming based on all the odds, so let's have fun, especially in our home games. Let's try to play dominant, let's try to stay on our line where we dictate the speed of the game, that we have our identity and keep on working on that and give it all, so at the end of the road we can tell to ourselves we have absolutely no regrets ... that feeling of we gave it our all and we're happy with everything."

Losada's comments are a good reflection of his style of play. DC United are the second-highest scorers in the East with 49 goals, but their 41 conceded is only better than the bottom four teams in the table. They're also seventh throughout the entire league for pressures (4,568), with their non-compromising, high-energy approach proving a delight to watch for neutrals.

DC have picked up 30 of their 40 points at Audi Field and wing-back Julian Gressel believes his side can get a result against Nashville - second in the East - if they stick to their principles and capitalise on that great home record.

"It's crunch time," Gressel said. "It's the last two weeks of the season, the last few games, and obviously not an easy schedule for us. Obviously, we're at home, so we want to play our style, we want to show well, like we have been at Audi Field, and we want to continue that trend.

"Obviously we can learn a lot from the game against Nashville last time around and try and be better on the day.

"It was a simple message there but it's gonna be a tough couple of weeks, but we're ready for it and excited. It's tight and everything could change on one game or another, so we'll just have to stay in it and then give us give ourselves a shot to make it. At the end of the day, maybe not just make it, but hopefully get top four so we get a home game."

In their previous meeting this season, Nashville, who have lost a league-low three games, ran out emphatic 5-2 winners.