This loss was embarassing. When you're playing the worst team in the Western Conference at your home stadium on the East Cost, it's understandable to expect nothing less than three points.
Rather than sulk in our embarassment or whine about the officials disallowing a goal that was actually onside, how about some optimism?
I saw tonight that D.C. United actually has some very solid pieces to build with, which might be more than we could even say about the victorious Houston Dynamo. As long as our team doesn't get complacent in the offseason (and it's hard to imagine that they would after these results), then the 2011 United can be the 2010 New York Red Bulls.
That might be hard to believe right now, but it's true. Our problem right now is that only three of those solid pieces played tonight.
Andy Najar is just freaking special. Can you name five other players in MLS who could have scored that same goal, by getting the ball in space, bursting past his marker, avoiding another defender when cutting into the box, and putting the ball past the goalkeeper? I'll give you Landon Donovan, Omar Cummings, and Jeff Cunningham, but maybe not anyone else.
The visionary who set up Najar for the goal was Santino Quaranta. He had several nice crosses, and even looked pretty good when pushed into the middle of the field after Junior entered on the left. As the team captain though, I would have liked to see Quaranta do a bit more to get his players going, especially after giving up the first goal.
After such a promising start, I'm really starting to question the acquisitions of Pablo Hernandez and Branko Boskovic. Their skills just don't seem to fit with this team, or maybe even in this league. Hernandez can serve in a real nice free kick, but a striker with no goals in 10 matches is a big problem. Boskovic continues to get dispossessed far too easily and far too often.
For the second week in a row, I'm forced to put the most blame on Dejan Jakovic for the loss. Along with Troy Perkins, Jakovic might be having the most disappointing season in all of MLS. His total lack of effort in challenging Geoff Cameron in the air on the winning goal is dispicable. I was fully convinced in the past that he had the potential to be one of the best defenders in the league. Now I'm not sure I even want him on my team next year, or in the starting lineup next week. Perkins was at fault above all others on the first goal, whiffing on the cross before the ball fell right into Brad Davis's lap.
Danny Allsopp had a terrible night in front of goal. He would shoot when he should have passed, dummy the ball when he should have shot, and head the ball over the bar when he should have buried it. And when he actually manages to pounce on a rebound and put the ball in the net, he's offside (maybe). His work rate was there in this match, but his skill was not.
I mentioned in my introduction that D.C. United has three solid pieces that played tonight that we can build upon for the future. If you hadn't guessed yet, those pieces are Andy Najar, Santino Quaranta, and Julius James. Those three players are necessary for our future. The other 10 guys who saw action tonight are not.
I have reason to believe that we'll be better next season. We can't possibly be worse. Seeing the returns of Chris Pontius, Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, and Bill Hamid will be helpful. But seeing some new acquisitions (by a new general manager) will be even better.