It would be far too easy to lay the blame for this loss entirely at the feet of Baldomero Toledo.
Easy, but incorrect. Or at least incomplete.
No, there's plenty of blame to go around. The D.C. United defense looked weak many times during this match. They missed Perry Kitchen, no doubt. And the offense looked uninspired and often lacked ideas.
Make no mistake about it, the New England Revolution looked like the better team today.
But that's not to say that they are the better team. Or that they would win with both teams at full strength. Or on a neutral field. Or with a neutral referee.
We shouldn't let ourselves get too depressed about this loss. Losses like this were bound to happen with an already depleted inexperienced team. We need to continue to keep things in perspective. Last week's win was exhilarating, but I think most of us went into this season expecting United to finish somewhere around fourth place in the Eastern Conference. One win doesn't change that. And one loss doesn't either.
United failed to generate many chances in the first half. That changed when Charlie Davies entered the match. Scoring a penalty kick goal (and emerging from the match in sole possession of first place in the MLS Golden Boot race) is nice, but Davies' hard work in the offensive third made a clear difference for D.C. He set up Pontius for two separate scoring opportunities, and was a constant threat. That's more than we can say for any other United attacker today.
Chris Korb had a surprisingly effective match - his first as a professional. Korb made several good tackles and looked good getting forward for United on the right wing. I don't necessarily think he's in danger of challenging Zayner for a starting job, but Korb looks to be a valuable backup.
I thought Kurt Morsink represented well in replacement of Simms in central defensive midfield. He did a fine job of limiting Shalrie Joseph, who wasn't really a factor in this game other than converting the penalty kick. Marc Burch also had another good game, including one fantastically timed slide tackle. I also thought Burch's free kicks were far more promising than McCarty's, although still not entirely effective.
Chris Pontius was able to get himself into good position on several occasions for United, but just couldn't convert. Once when he was perfectly set up by Davies at the top of the box, Pontius shot the ball clear over the crossbar. Minutes later, Davies set him up again, but Pontius' shot went straight into the arms of Matt Reis. To be fair, Reis did well to anticipate the winger's shot, but Pontius is going to need to get his name on the scoreboard soon or he might lose out to the designated player who is sitting behind him on the bench.
This was the 2010 Dejan Jakovic that we'd all hoped had been transported back to Canada or Serbia or wherever the hell he's actually from. He received a red card in the dying minutes of the match for absolutely no good reason. He might not have really deserved it (I think Toledo misinterpreted what Jakovic was trying to do with his arms - He was actually trying to demonstrate what Matt Reis did to him, but Toledo thought it was a punching motion) and now he'll miss next week's match in Colorado. I was equally disappointed in Jakovic on the Zack Schilawski goal. Hey Dejan, how about trying to tackle/impede rather than stopping and raising your arm? Take a lesson from Korb next time and play to the whistle.
Dax McCarty also turned in a rather uninspiring performance against the Revolution. Right call or not, McCarty was whistled for the foul on Pat Phelan that would become Joseph's penalty kick goal. But more disconcertingly, McCarty wasn't able to establish himself as a presence in the midfield. That was due to New England's formation in part, but we'd like to see McCarty assert himself a bit more.
I don't think either team can really be proud of the result today. The match didn't really look like two teams battling for playoff spots. It looked like two teams still trying to find their way. And that's okay. We're a young team. But with matches upcoming against the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids and defending Supporters Shield winning Los Angeles Galaxy, they'll need to find their way pretty fast.