After two draws in the past two games, there was the closest thing to hope that D.C. United has had this season coming into the game against the Chicago Fire. That hope was quickly dashed as the team gave up two goals in the first 13 minutes and never really stood a chance against one of the most average MLS teams in the league this year. After a brief resurgence, the defense has returned to its terrible form while the offense has continued to be anemic.
The first goal was off of a quick cross by Joel Lindpere. Joe Willis came off his line and was unable to get to the ball, and Chris Rolfe chipped it past him. It didn't help that Daniel Woolard lost the ball coming off of Lindpere's foot and did nothing to deny it from reaching Rolfe. The second goal was again Woolard's fault. His lack of pace was completely exposed by the known speedster Jeff Larentowicz, and his cross to Joel Lindpere was smashed home past Joe Willis to make it 2-0 before the first 15 minutes were up. Chris Korb also had less than stellar defending in letting Lindpere get open enough to push that ball home.
The last goal of the first half was a breakdown in center midfield and center defense. A lack of pressure on either line allowed a chipped ball over the top that found Chris Rolfe, and Joe Willis had no chance to stop Rolfe from scoring. The penalty kick called against Daniel Woolard might have been a little harsh, but he did seem to pull down Quincy Amarikwa. Regardless, he put himself into a position where the ref had to make the call, and so you cannot really blame anyone but Woolard.
Woolard's lack of speed led to three of the four Chicago Fire goals, but he was not the defender who was replaced at halftime. Ethan White, who had a subpar but not terrible game was the defender who made way for Dejan Jakovic; Jakovic was an upgrade over White in this game, btu I can't help but feel that Woolard would have been the better choice to be removed.
The one bright spot of the match was the combination between Perry Kitchen and Luis Silva, which led to a lovely goal by SIlva from around 25 yards out. When Kitchen was actually able to get into the attack, better things happened; this is why, despite his talent, I think that starting John Thorrington is holding Perry Kitchen back. Thorrington takes up the space in which Kitchen should be operating and, while he plays adequately, it isn't enough to justify reducing Kitchen's role. Kitchen may one day be a great number 6 as the base of a diamond midfield, but in a flat 4-4-2 he needs to be the more dominant midfielder. Bring on Jared Jeffrey to partner Kitchen and let us see what happens.
Also, this game proved to me once and for all that Carlos Ruiz is no better than Lionard Pajoy: neither of them should be in MLS, so why not give Casey Townsend or Conor Doyle extended starting minutes over both of them. And then, once Michael Seaton has experienced a successful season and a deep playoff run, he can start MLS games in September and October and hopefully be challenging for the starting position come next March.
D.C. United is next in action a week from today, taking on the New England Revolution in the friendly confines of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.