August 22, 2019

D.C. United Game 16 Recap: Team sputters in 1-0 loss to Seattle

On Saturday night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. United showed an attack replete with excellent ideas but confounded with how to execute them. Excellent runs were unrewarded, crosses were wayward, shots either hit the frame or sailed high or wide into warm Washington night. It all added up to a 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders before 16,922. The defeat drops United to 7-5-4 (25 points) on the season and a first-place tie with Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.

The only goal of the game came in the 39th minute, via Seattle forward Chad Barrett. After United cleared a Sounders corner kick, the attack restarted and midfielder Gonzalo Pineda found himself with space on the right flank. He whipped in a left-footed cross that United seemed to be prepared for, in terms of the number of defenders there to deal with it.

Barrett then had bad news for United as he got free between both Bobby Boswell and Chris Korb, rising up to sharply head the ball past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. It was one of just three shots on target for the Sounders (11-3-2, 35 points), but it was all the offense the Western Conference leaders needed as the Seattle defense and some unsuccessful work by the United attack made 1-0 an insurmountable lead.

United had 14 shots attempts to Seattle’s five, but only managed to put two on target. In the first half, just the build up itself was a problem, particularly frustrating Eddie Johnson. Much maligned for being a high-profile acquisition with just one goal this season, Johnson made several sharp off-the-ball runs in the first half, but often wasn’t rewarded with a through ball. The attack was either too slow or the run was not recognized, or both.

Much of the second half was spent trying to get wide (particularly down the left side) and send crosses in. But United had trouble winning these crosses and on the occasion where D.C. did get on the ball, shots were mostly ineffective. Johnson and Luis Silva ended up with United’s only shots on goal in the match, though Chris Rolfe did hit the post with a strike, as well.

United were playing without Fabian Espindola, who has a knee injury and was also serving the first of a two-game MLS suspension for what league concluded was violent conduct in a 4-2 win at Montreal on June 11. Espindola was later injured in that game and left at halftime. Espindola leads the team with seven goals and eight assists. Seattle was without midfielder/forward Clint Dempsey (eight goals in eight games this season) and defender DeAndre Yedlin (11 starts), who are with the U.S. National Team at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

With Espindola likely out at least another five matches due to his injury, United must find offense from somewhere, be it Johnson, Rolfe, Silva (who had a hat trick at Montreal), or someone else. D.C. is back in action next Saturday at Toronto FC in a key Eastern Conference matchup. United next plays at RFK against Chivas USA on Sunday, July 20.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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