D.C. United went into Sunday's game with Columbus Crew SC controlling their destiny: win and have a week to rest and recuperate while the teams below them tore each other apart midweek? Now? They've got to be one of those teams, following a 5-0 shellacking that the Black and Red hadn't seen since Bill Clinton was serving his second term in office. Some thoughts on the game and other things follow:
This was why we weren't so happy the last two weeks.
The reason why we didn't expect another offensive outburst on the Crew like the second half against New York City FC and the 90 minutes against the Chicago Fire came back to roost, and did so in a big way. D.C. had chances, though once Justin Meram scored the second goal (and especially after Ethan Finlay's double in two minutes), the team pretty much played with the result known, and the Crew knew it. In fact, it was damn near a carbon copy of what we saw last month when these two teams played, other than the Crew had Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain then.
For a veteran team, they sure don't play like one.
Olsen: "It’s an ego shot. It’s a punch in the face. But we seem to respond over the last 2 years when we have moments like this" #dcu— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) October 26, 2015
I don't what Ben Olsen is exactly saying here, but let's look at what we know:
- D.C. scored the second most goals in the East last year en route to the best record in the Eastern Conference, went out on the first leg of their series with the New York Red Bulls, scored none, and were eliminated.
- They went into last year's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals as the top seed, playing a team in Alajuelense that was a patchwork one with players suspended, and in the midst of their season. They went out, gave up five goals, in part because they were forced to play a goalkeeper who played one game of competitive minutes in 10 months, and were eliminated.
- They went into Sunday's game with the simple goal of coming out of Columbus with a point, just a point. But they didn't, and got smoked.
If that's Ben's idea of responding, then what's the question?
They did do something unique Sunday, and not in a good way.
Not many teams could give up five goals after scoring four the previous game. D.C. did that and said, "You know what? Let's make it harder on ourselves by doing it before the playoffs start!" Sure, Ben Olsen fell on the sword for his team's play Sunday, but it's more complex than that. A game like that with the capitulation that occurring during it, heads should be cracked and messages should be sent. But what can you go to with practice today and tomorrow? Does a tongue-lashing work? If you can answer either question and come out of the playoff game with a win, then you deserve whatever praise thrown your way and, to date, D.C. hasn't earned it. So save for Steve Birnbaum MAYBE coming in for Kofi Opare, the XI you saw Sunday is the one you'll see Wednesday against the New England Revolution.
Further to the whole building on things thing...
Despite the result, Chris Pontius looked fine in his seldom moments where the offense was a threat, and remains encouraging. However, Taylor Kemp's performance last week was pretty damn good. We talked about it here last week, as well as on last week's Filibuster. This week? Unsure on and off the ball numerous times, waffled between doing an impression of a turnover machine and a traffic cone. With Teal Bunbury (who Kemp gives three inches in height and 20 pounds in weight to) coming to down, Kemp better find his groove, and fast.
So, where are we now?
Well, kind of like we were last week; we didn't learn much, and a 4-0 win over the Fire is worth a little less than a 5-0 loss to the Crew. Both are extremes in a spectrum, and we're not completely sure where the mean is with the club. One would presume things will play out in a manner predicted midweek, then we'll be back to where we were a year ago; D.C. playing in the CCL in a two-leg series against an opponent that is tough but can be beaten.
The problem is that this is part of a sequence that folks are familiar with because it played out this way last year. And will play itself out this year, to a slightly larger number of folks. And at some point, those responsible for the purse strings are going to have to realize that playoff and tournament appearances = more eyes to the club, and more playoff and tournament appearances = more eyes. And they're going to have to do something to rectify it, at some point.