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DC United lose to San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1

This weekend had set itself up really nicely for DC United. After losses by Seattle and RSL, and ties by Colorado, Chivas, and Toronto, DC United only needed a home victory against the worst road team in the leauge in order to move into 5th place. But the underdogs continued to impress. Not only did United lose, but they really deserved to lose. They were a close offsides call away from being tied at the half.

The turning point seemed to come when Josh Wicks dislocated a shoulder, the latest in a string of injuries that has made our playoff run much more difficult. With our two best defenders out, and now our best goalkeeper walking to the locker room wearing an arm brace, United apparently lost all confidence, and gave up two unnecessary goals. And now we'll finish the season with a grand total of 1 point in 2 matches against the Earthquakes and their Western Conference worst record.

1. Chris Pontius was our most dangerous player today. His overlapping run and cross to Moreno set up the first goal. But it was his bicycle kick late in the match that really set Pontius apart, as it should have tied the match if not for a goalline save by a San Jose player. When all of the other older United players faded away, Pontius was the only player still running hard and getting himself into good positions. It was just earlier this week that I suggested that Pontius should be our regular starter at left wing for the rest of the season, but his best position is still forward, so it's kind of hard to say.

2. For two matches in a row now, our hardest working player has been Ben Olsen. His creativity and high soccer IQ started the play that led to Pontius's bike, and he also started the sequence that led to Moreno's goal.

1. Jaime Moreno scored our lone goal in this one, but then he was entirely absent in the second half, which isn't what I like to see from our captain.

1. Really poor effort from Lawson Vaughn. Twice Ryan Johnson should have been marked by Vaughn when he put the ball into the net. One of those times the goal was disallowed for offsides, but Vaughn was just standing around on the winning goal instead of marking Johnson on the rebound. Before the Marathon match, I thought that McTavish would be our regular replacement for Namoff at right back. I'm not sure why our coaching staff thought that a guy who hasn't played a league match in 2009 was a better option.

2. Apparently Luciano Emilio isn't one to believe in momentum. Nor I guess is the entire United team. After an epic two-goal performance earlier in the week, Emilio couldn't get a ball on target despite multiple chances.
3. It's hard to truly fault him for either goal, but I don't think it's just a coincidence that Josh Wicks was pitching a shutout, but San Jose scored two goals as soon as Milos Kocic came on.

4. Julius James really didn't need to give up a foul at the top of the box in the 58th minute. It was that foul that led to the Quakes' first goal. And Marc Burch's defensive gaff leading to the Quakes' winning goal could be a huge detriment to our playoff chances.

And with that loss, DC United's playoff chances just got a whole lot tougher. With a win, we would have been in fifth place, the first wildcard slot, and would have been in complete control of our destiny for the remainder of the season. But with a loss, we remain one point behind the Revolution (who have still played two fewer matches), and two points behind Seattle and Chivas.

The good news though is that we play against Chivas USA at home next week, while Seattle are on the road against the red hot Columbus Crew. So with the right results, we still have a good shot, but we can't keep letting good chances slip away. Regardless, it looks like everything is going to come down to the last weekend again. And I guess we shouldn't really be surprised by that.