A miserable season hit a new low for D.C. United, who were humiliated 4-0 at home by Atlanta United. Two goals from Jon Gallagher and a one goal/two assist night from Brooks Lennon did the damage for the Black-and-Red, who were both torn apart by a team that isn’t even in the playoff picture and also managed to bungle a substitution in a bizarre incident that saw Russell Canouse ordered out of the game after entering at the half.
Ben Olsen named an unchanged starting eleven, but unfortunately that familiarity didn’t boost United in the early going. With virtually their first attempt at an attacking move, Atlanta took the lead in the 4th minute through Jon Gallagher. It was simple stuff, as the visitors calmly moved through a DCU side whose defensive shape never recovered from a push forward moments before. Brooks Lennon had time and space to pick out Gallagher at the back post, and the winger finished the service with a clever heel flick from seven yards.
United were very lucky the scoreline didn’t get worse in the 11th minute, as Miles Robinson sent a free header over the bar following an Atlanta corner. The Black-and-Red showed occasional ability to get the ball up the right flank, but again had to count themselves lucky as an unmarked Adam Jahn wasted another open header, this one from open play, in the 20th minute.
In the minutes that followed, United won several free kicks that came to nothing, before some calamitous defending saw them fall behind by two in the 41st minute. A simple long ball from Anton Walkes was easy work for Joseph Mora, but under mild pressure his defensive header was directed right into the path of Lennon, who took a touch before rifling a shot into the upper corner with cruel, casual ease.
A mess of a season turned absurd shortly after halftime. United had subbed Canouse and Julian Gressel into the game at the break, but about three minutes into the half, play stopped for nearly ten minutes as the match officials found that Canouse was not listed as an eligible substitute on the official team sheet. United were eventually allowed to bring Kevin Paredes into the game for Canouse, who was given a red card for illegally substituting into the game through no fault of his own.
United created their most dangerous look of the night shortly thereafter, with Ola Kamara unable to find Paredes, but a shambolic night at the back continued in the 65th minute. Atlanta strolled through the Black-and-Red defense with ease, as Jahn’s backheel set up Emerson Hyndman, who in turn touched the ball to Gallagher for his second goal on the night.
A night full of poor marking on crosses finally ended up costing United, who fell even further behind in the 70th minute. Lennon, who appeared to be able to get open at will all night, again had plenty of room to pick out Jahn, and after missing several good looks before halftime, the target man finally ended up nodding past Hamid.
Somehow things continued to get worse, as Frederic Brillant was given a straight red card for what referee Joe Dickerson deemed a denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity in the 85th minute. Mercifully, Atlanta didn’t pad their lead by even more, but the home loss condemned United — dead last in the MLS standings — to a sixth straight game at home without a win.
The Black-and-Red will have little time to shake off their worst performance in years, as they face a trip to the Bronx to face New York City FC at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night. Video of this terrible night will be added when they are made available.
DCU (442): Bill Hamid; Chris Odoi-Atsem, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum (C), Joseph Mora; Griffin Yow (Julian Gressel 46), Moses Nyeman (Russell Canouse 46, Kevin Paredes 56), Junior Moreno, Yamil Asad; Yordy Reyna (Donovan Pines 87), Ola Kamara (Erik Sorga 67)
ATL (433): Brad Guzan; Franco Escobar, Anton Walkes, Miles Robinson (Edgar Castillo 78), George Bello (Jurgen Damm 78); Mo Adams (Lawrence Wyke 81), Jeff Larentowicz (C), Emerson Hyndman; Brooks Lennon, Adam Jahn (Manuel Castro 84), Jon Gallagher (Tyler Wolff 81)
DCU - Nyeman 20, Canouse 54 (sent off for illegal substitution), Brillant 85 (red), Asad 95+
ATL - Bello 29, Robinson 37, Hyndman 43