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Horror first half for D.C. United in 4-0 loss to NYCFC

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United are still scoreless after two league games

Once again without Luciano Acosta, D.C. United couldn’t find the back of the net on Sunday afternoon, being thoroughly outplayed in a 4-0 loss to New York City FC. Three goals in the first half by NYC put the game well out of reach for United’s struggle, and an inevitable fourth goal in the second half was a misery compiler for the Black-and-Red.

Former United draft pick Rodney Wallace opened the scoring early for New York, netting his first goal since his return to MLS. David Villa made it two in the 28th minute, and Maxi Moralez rounded out the first half scoring in the 39th minute. Villa provided the final tally in the 75th minute, with his sixth goal in as many career games against United.

With Acosta still nursing an ankle injury, head coach Ben Olsen made just one change to the side that drew 0-0 with Sporting Kansas City last week. Ian Harkes, United’s most recent homegrown player signing stepped into the side for his MLS debut, taking the place of Julian Buescher.

The Black-and-Red came close to opening the scoring early on, as Taylor Kemp lashed at a half volley with his weaker right foot. But as it sailed over the bar, so did United’s hope of a result in the game. In the 8th minute, Wallace helped facilitate a play down the left flank.

Collecting a pass in United’s half, Wallace played an early ball to the opposite flank, finding Jack Harrison in space. Harrison worked towards the corner of the box, cutting in on his favorite left foot. A shot from Harrison slammed off the woodwork, and Wallace was first to the rebound, doing just enough to get the ball over the line, despite Bill Hamid’s best efforts.

Shortly after, Lloyd Sam had the ball in the back of the net for United, only to be undone by the assistant referee’s flag. Harkes played either a shot or pass in front of goal, and Sam was unmarked in redirecting it past City keeper Sean Johnson. But Sam was flagged for being offside, though a replay showed that he might have been level with the last defender.

United did just enough to snuff out several City attacks afterwards, starting with Kemp just getting enough of a cross looking for Harrison. Wallace probably should have shot in the 22nd minute on a breakout, but Steve Birnbaum did jsut enough to get onto the cross to knock it down, allowing Hamid to collect.

But in the 28th minute, Villa doubled City’s advantage with first goal of the season. Moralez played a ball out wide for Wallace, who was able to line up a cross on the left. Villa was able to lose Birnbaum in the box, and the cross from Wallace allowed Villa to loop a header towards goal. Hamid was helpless in his attempt to save the header, and City had an insurmountable 2-0 lead.

United’s misery was compounded in the late stages of the first half, when Moralez added City’s third goal, the first of his MLS career. A pass from Jared Jeffrey didn’t find it’s intended target in Marcelo Sarvas. Villa intercepted the ball in midfield, quickly moving towards United’s goal. Villa then slipped a pass into the box for Moralez, who expertly slid a shot by Hamid into the far side of the goal for the three goal advantage.

Looking for a way back into the game, United had a decent start to the second half. Harkes fed Patrick Nyarko in the box in the 47th minute, but Nyarko just couldn’t squeeze a shot past Johnson’s legs. Nyarko had another attemp blocked in the 55th minute, before the winger sliced a shot over the goal after chesting down a ball in the box.

Patrick Mullins, quiet for most of the game, could only send a header from Sam’s bouncing cross right at Johnson in the 61st minute. Then Nyarko should have tallied United’s first goal of the year, as Harkes played Nyarko down the left. A nifty move allowed Nyarko to skip inside of his defender, but as he closed in on goal, Nyarko couldn’t beat Johnson. The resulting corner found Nyarko at the far post, but his header did little to trouble Johnson.

That ended United’s spell, for which they had nothing to show for. Andrea Pirlo tested Hamid from a free kick in the 71st minute, but Hamid was able to save a shot that went straight to him. And then four minutes later, Villa completed the rout by netting his second goal of the game.

Another midfield turnover by United found Ronald Mattarita with the ball just inside United’s half. Mattarita quickly found Moralez in the middle of the field, with the midfielder then passing out wide to Villa. Villa had just Birnbaum to beat, making his way towards the endline. It looked that Birnbaum and Hamid had closed all the angles, but somehow Villa found just enough room between Hamid and the post to put City up by four goals.

Nyarko had one final opportunity in second half stoppage time, but he could not shape his shot on goal, ensuring that United would finish the first two games of the season with exactly zero goals.

United, with one point from two games, returns to RFK Stadium next Saturday, hosting Columbus Crew SC.