I'm not a statistical wiz or a tactical genius by any means. But there's a couple things that I've figured out about soccer.
1. You have to score goals to win games.
2. You have to shoot the ball to score goals.
D.C. United didn't do any of that tonight. Not a single shot on goal for the home team tonight.
Crazy things can happen when you shoot the ball. The ball could go in the net. Your team could get a rebound. Or the goalkeeper could even make a gaffe (as we learned tonight).
Gabriel Desjardins, who writes the SB Nation hockey blog Behind The Net, has done some excellent research on soccer statistics in MLS. I don't understand his numbers entirely (I'm sure Dave will elaborate later if necessary), but the basic premise is that the more a team shoots, the more a team scores. Makes sense, right?
The common theme tonight was United gathering possession, moving the ball into the Columbus Crew's third, dribbling towards the box, and turning the ball over. They never got off that final shot.
Obviously the team is flawed, and it doesn't look like Ben Olsen will have much time left to adjust those flaws.
Santino Quaranta was very active tonight for United. He had several quality crosses from the left side and made some strong runs up the middle to create scoring chances. But he passed up on shots far too often to try to set up a teammate or take one more dribble closer to the net.
The early mistake by Bill Hamid turned out to be very costly. He caved under the high pressure from Guillermo Barros Schelotto, giving away the ball, the goal, and the match. To his credit though, it was the only clear mistake that Hamid has made in his professional career.
Danny Allsopp was another player guilty of failing to produce enough quality scoring opportunities. He was never quite able to get himself into scoring position, and was sometimes far too slow in transition when United should have been counterattacking.
United held the two-time Supporters' Shield winners and the favorites to win it again this year to only one goal in a fairly even match. That's nothing to cry about. But what I find truly disappointing is that Olsen and United balanced their roster very specifically to able to compete in this tough three-match week.
And yet they still lost all three matches.