Now that you've had a night to rest, relax, and inch back from the ledge after D.C. United's second loss to start the 2012 MLS season, do yourself a favor and ponder the answer to the following questions:
What would the Columbus Crew's record be so far if they had our schedule?
The Chicago Fire could only score one goal against an expansion team. How many would they have scored against the Galaxy?
The Philadelphia Union couldn't even handle a 10-man Colorado Rapids team at home. How would they have done in LA?
In the grand scheme of things, 0-2 isn't something we should be worried about. Especially not when so many other teams in the Eastern Conference are stuck without a point. Especially not when we started the season against the two teams who were the favorites to win their respective conferences.
This isn't much for a motivational speech. Certainly it isn't something that Ben Olsen would have thought about saying to his boys in the locker room last night after their 3-1 loss, but I'll say it anyway to lend some positive perspective: To make the playoffs, United just has to be better than five other teams in the East. And the East kind of sucks.Only two teams in the MLS Eastern Conference have managed to establish themselves as legitimate threats - Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo. Each has started the year with two wins, and they sit tied atop the standings with six points. A third team - Toronto FC - will have to show some consistency to join that discussion, as they shocked LA in the CCL, but then got clobbered by the Seattle Sounders in their first regular season match on Saturday.
In a way, the early season scheduling might actually work into United's favor. With so many tough matches early on, D.C. is racking up losses. But we can feel better about those losses coming before the team has had a chance to establish chemistry, rather than after. Very few Eastern Conference teams will take points away from the Galaxy this season. United just got their LA loss out of the way early. I'd much rather play terribly against the Galaxy and lose than play terribly against the Revolution and lose. We've still got three games against the Revs, as well as three games against the Montreal Impact. The season is young, and there's plenty of time to collect points.
Keep in mind also that the schedule isn't perfectly balanced. United plays three games against most Eastern Conference opponents, but only two against the Sporks and the Fire. That could actually give us a slight advantage over teams like the Red Bulls and Union, who each have to face Kansas City three times.
We're splitting hairs here a bit, but my message should be clear: Starting the season with two losses is NOT concerning given WHO we played and HOW everyone else in the East has played.
Now the reasons WHY we lost... Those are a bit more concerning...