If I played any part in getting your hopes up prior to this match, I apologize.
That's my bad.
D.C. United hasn't taken a point in Utah in five years, and tonight was no different as Real Salt Lake proved they are the better team and won 3-0. As it turns out, the defending champions against the last place team in the league wasn't actually that tight a match afterall.
This did at least still feel different from our other multi-goal wins earlier in the season. At least United had some good chances throughout the match. But they were generally parried away at the last moment by some fine defensive efforts by RSL.
It's also worth noting that both of the first two goals were VERY CLOSE to being offside. Each could have gone either way, within a few inches. Let me put it this way, if this was the World Cup and RSL was the United States, this match might have ended in a scoreless draw.
There was also the matter of the referee having no concept of what fouls constitute yellow cards and what fouls do not.
Read on for more abuse.
One of the big storylines going into this match was the return of Marc Burch, who was getting his first minutes with the full team in 2010. Burch had a real nice outing that included one impressive sliding block in the box to cut out a cross, and no noticeable defensive errors. I was also fairly happy with the efforts of Santino Quaranta, who lined up at left midfield for the first time all season. He had a perfect cross to Andy Najar's head in the 15th minute, and set up a fantastic chance for Danny Allsopp with a sort of half volley pass to him in the 51st.
Branko Boskovic was active throughout the night, getting involved on almost every attacking possession for D.C. His finishing wasn't quite there yet, but I think he's very close to scoring his first MLS goal. There were portions of the match where Kyle Beckerman took Branko out of the picture, which is troubling considering the same thing happened two weeks ago with Osvaldo Alonso of the Sounders.
I opened this story by saying that United doesn't look as bad as they did early in the season. However, I can't say that's true about Troy Perkins. This may have been his worst match of the year. The first goal went right underneath him while he was in the process of diving to the ground. Standing still probably would have been the better option.
Clyde Simms and Carey Talley were partially responsible for the first two goals, respectively, for the same reason. They were both content to signal offside to the assistant official rather than actually trying to run with Alvaro Saborio and Robbie Findley.
Danny Allsopp did not do enough up top for United tonight. He failed to get off a shot on what could have been our best chance of the night after being set up by Quaranta, instead getting caught from behind by Nat Borchers.
None of us really expected United to win this match. They never win in Salt Lake City. Even giving up multiple goals is not a shock. But with the offensive firepower that D.C. has recently added, and with Quaranta playing better now than he had earlier in the season, it's really disapponting to see United getting shut out once again.
D.C. United will continue on the road to New England next week, in what is likely to be a very winnable match, and a chance for D.C. to emerge from sole possession of last place.