On a rainy night at RFK Stadium, D.C. United lost its fourth straight home match, and seventh overall, of the young 2013 season. While the crowd was expected to be small for the season's only Wednesday night game at home, it appeared only about half of the announced 10,100 fans actually showed up. What wasn't expected, however, except by the hardest of hardcore pessimists (who, it now must be said, should simply be called realists) was the team's utter destruction at the hands of a tired Houston Dynamo squad. Despite having played two road games in less than 72 hours on both coasts, Houston beat the hometown team 4-0 in a game in which the Dynamo could easily have scored two more to make up for D.C. United's non-calls on the goal line, and a non-penalty shot which Kyle Porter appeared to have fairly won just inside the box.
Ben Olsen, via dcunited.com: We have to make some changes. We have some part time players. I still don't get how it takes a coach to throw things and yell at you to now play with aggression and with the right spirit. Its mind boggling to me. I don't get it. If that's what it takes, to get you to play desperate and with high concentration, some guys are in trouble. Some of this has to come from within. Its confusing to me. I'll look to make some moves and try to make some adjustments.
Steve Goff, the Washington Post: Except for an encouraging spell early in the second half, D.C. displayed no chemistry, no attacking menace, no grit and no speed in being shut out for the sixth time and losing its fourth straight at home. United has conceded 12 goals in the past four matches.
Craig Stouffer, Washington Examiner: Olsen raged in the locker room at halftime to spark an improved stretch to start the second half, and D.C. couldn't have come any closer to cutting the deficit in half in the 63rd minute. But Dwayne De Rosario was denied twice on goal-line blocks by Kofi Sarkodie, the second which may have been over the line as it was saved with Sarkodie well inside the goal.
The first half was marred by sloppy play at both ends for D.C. United. Dejan Jakovic was the culprit (with help from his teammates) on the first two goals, getting beaten by Will Bruin for the first one, and jamming Bill Hamid with an awkward back pass that resulted in a bad clearance that Giles Barnes neatly slotted home. On offense, D.C. United continued to prefer bringing the ball up the wings and playing crosses into the box. Unfortunately, their crosses were generally not up to par. And, during the rare times they did play through the middle, errant passes and poor first touches (in particular by Rafa) undermined most chances.
One possibly hopeful sign in the first half was the leadership Dwayne De Rosario tried to display all over the field. First, he was literally all over the field, as if he felt he had to play every field position to have it done right. Second, he took a more vocal approach as the team captain than I've seen from him this year, barking at Porter for an extended period after a throw in he thought Porter took too slowly, and directing his teammates on when they should make runs (and gesturing in an exasperated manner when they failed to do as directed). While it was good to see DeRo try to strap this team onto his back and will it to victory, it was to no effect in the end. How his display affects the team dynamics (whether for good or otherwise) remains to be seen.
The second half opened with D.C. United playing entertaining and attacking soccer. Although down 2-0, it was fun to watch, but even Ben Olsen has said previously that good play while down 2-0 doesn't mean anything because the dynamic of the game has completely changed (BTW, how sad is it that playing multiple goals down has become normal?). Ultimately, D.C. United's good play culminated with the non-call on DeRo's goal line sequence in the 63', and then Porter's non-penalty call in the 64'. While it was great to see Nick DeLeon come on for Daniel Woolard in the 71', Houston scored on a beautiful set piece (as many had predicted they would) to extend their lead to 3-0 in the 78'. Finally, as time drained away, Houston made Brandon McDonald pay for a bad pass as Andrew Driver finished their scoring in the 88'.
The Last Word:
This season has brought out every negative emotion imaginable for D.C. United fans. Each of these emotions has played out on the virtual pages of Black & Red United. Collectively, these emotions seem to have followed the arc described in the "stages of grief": denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some of us moved through the stages slower than others, while some started out further down the progression than the rest, but for me, Wednesday night's loss has finally led me to acceptance. Acceptance that all the preseason hopes for this young, likeable, and seemingly talented team are gone; acceptance that this is truly a bad team that is also playing very poorly; and acceptance that the organization appears unable or unwilling to address these problems.
Sure, it's still a long season. Yes, anything is possible. Of course, the law of averages indicates D.C. United should improve at some point.
But, I've accepted that our team's record of 1-7-1 is just, and accurately reflects who and what we are right now. I can't explain why this team has fallen so far, but I accept that it has become the worst team in Major League Soccer.
Share with us your last words about D.C. United's loss to Houston on Wednesday night.