The game might have been mostly even, but the final score sure wasn't. D.C. United lost its fifth match in a row on Saturday night against the Columbus Crew. Some might say that United turned in a better offensive performance, but the team also gave up three goals thanks to three mistakes by Brandon McDonald.
- Steven Goff, Washington Post: As one of my editors dryly pointed out during the delay, goal-starved United has no use for a scoreboard anyway. Especially on the road. The last time the club scored more than once away from RFK was last June 24 at New York, a 3-2 defeat. That’s a span of 15 matches, including playoffs: 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0. United did create plenty of opportunity in Columbus: Perry Kitchen‘s equalizer was wrongly annulled, Kyle Porter hit the post, Marcos Sanchez missed terribly in the box, Lionard Pajoy failed to finish Porter’s long ball and later hit the crossbar with a free kick, and Dwayne De Rosario‘s stab was kick-saved away.
- MLSsoccer.com: Jairo Arrieta was back in the starting lineup for the first time in five matches and the Costa Rican forward had a part in all three goals by setting up Dominic Oduro on the first; drawing a corner kick that led to Williams' score and earning a penalty that Higuain converted.
- Patrick Guldan, Massive Report: D.C. created little all night, the two best chances would be when Kyle Porter shot that got past Andy Gruenebaum and rung off the post in the first half and Marcos Sanchez pushed a breakaway shot wide late in the second half.
- Brandon McDonald, dcunited.com: You can blame that whole thing on me. That’s completely my fault. Three goals? I mean that penalty kick? I really didn’t touch it. That’s just unacceptable. I don’t even know how to put it in words how I feel. At halftime I came in and just I lost it, but I’m better than that. My teammates, fans, and the whole club need better from me and they don’t deserve that. That was just terrible.
- Ben Olsen, dcunited.com: Offensively, if you look at the way we went about it, I thought we were pretty good. I thought defensively, almost everyone was pretty tuned in. We had a guy that had a bad night and that’s the way things have been going. We have been getting punished for what seems like any mistake we’ve been making.
- Has any other United defender ever had as bad a match as McDonald just had? Yep! Follow me back to Aug. 18, 2009 and a CONCACAF Champions Cup match against Marathon:
It's not often that a single player is responsible for all three goals allowed, but that was the case tonight with Greg Janicki. He made a terrible mistake in misplaying the first goal, and his poor slide tackle in the box set up the penalty kick for the third goal. Marathon's second goal was a bit more deserved, but it was still against the run of play, and I still feel like Jakovic would have stopped it if he were playing instead.
- Possibly the most positive development of this match though was Olsen's willingness to pull a player who was having a terrible match. Olsen sent a message to his team by yanking McDonald in favor of Ethan White. Perhaps its a tactic he should employ more often. The downside though is that Lionard Pajoy has played all 90 minutes in all of the last five matches. All losses. Olsen continues to see no wrong in his striker's performances.
- McDonald wasn't the only player who had a poor game. The problem though with pointing out the deficiencies of guys like Daniel Woolard and Dwayne De Rosario is that we have no one to replace them. Do we really think this team would be doing better with White, Taylor Kemp, and Casey Townsend playing instead? Is it worth a shot?
- Only one player on the entire D.C. United roster is exceeding expectations this year. It's Kyle Porter, who just barely made the team and has turned into one of our top offensive threats. Unfortunately, that's less a statement about Porter's abilities and more a statement about how poor the rest of the team has been.
- Is this rock bottom? Please say this is rock bottom. (But I don't think it is yet.)
The Last Word
I honestly don't understand this season.
I understood the 2010 season. That year, we took a non-playoff roster and made it worse. This year we took a roster that finished second in the conference and made very few changes. On paper, we shouldn't be this much worse than last season.
How did United fall so far so fast?
Is it because we lost Andy Najar and Branko Boskovic and didn't replace them? Or are we just underachieving now after overachieving last year. If it's the latter, then there might be some hope that United will turn it around and finish somewhere near the middle of the pack this season. That's pretty much the most we have to look forward to though. There's little hope for improvement beyond that, and little chance for summer reinforcements - no owner is going to invest significant money in upgrading a team that is already out of contention. Certainly not these owners.
The best and yet also most obvious response came in a comment from Croftonpost yesterday. United needs to just take it one game at a time. The only goal now is to win in Houston on May 8. That's all that matters right now.