An energetic opening 25 minutes faded into a typical D.C. United performance this evening against the Chicago Fire. The young guns started out brightly, with Jared Jeffrey leading the way. He put a shot on goal in the first 2 minutes, which I assume is a record for D.C. United this season. But the nice play didn't stop there: Luis Silva continued it with a breakaway in which he beat Austin Berry and put a cross onto the head of Collin Martin, who pushed it over the bar. In the best sequence of the night, Silva got the first shot; after the play recycled, Jared Jeffrey smacked a long range shot off of the post, and then Conor Doyle's followup was unfortunately right at Sean Johnson. It also didn't help that Derpy Sean Johnson was nowhere to be found tonight. While it ended up the same as the rest of United's games this year, the fact that the team looked better than normal was an encouraging sign.
While the game started out well, it was nothing if not an exercise in players being played out of position. Sainey Nyassi was burned regularly and got an early yellow card; Daniel Woolard, despite playing well as a center back at times, has not been good there this season and has never been a natural center back; and Collin Martin is a central player, not a wide midfielder. But the most egregious repositioning was putting Perry Kitchen in central defense, a position where he has never looked comfortable. I don't know if Conor Shanosky would have been a better option, but at least he is a natural center back.
This game did nothing but solidify in all of our minds that D.C. United's first priority this offseason must be to lock down the defense. With the offense showing signs of energy and life (while also showing youthful mistakes), even an average defense would have kept this game close. Instead, this backline gave up three goals and looked rather incompetent throughout. This team probably needs two new fullbacks and a starting level center back before the start of next season in order to contend next year. The midfield may be able to gel in the offseason and be very good going into next season, but the defense needs some serious work.
What are you thoughts on tonight's game against the Chicago Fire?