June 12, 2021

D.C. United Game 22 Recap: Real Salt Lake buries listless United right away

The return of Nick DeLeon, Chris Korb, and even Fabian Espindola as a substitute couldn’t save D.C. United from a 3-0 drubbing Saturday night at Real Salt Lake. The listless and stomach-turning performance dropped United to 11-7-4 (37 points) on the season. RSL took over first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference at 10-4-9, 39 points.

United were neatly and surgically put away within a half-hour, thanks to an 11th-minute goal from Joao Plata and then two goals by defender Chris Schuler, who had a grand total of two career goals prior to Saturday night’s match. He had two in this match by the time 24 minutes were gone. United’s defending was non-existent at times and the attack managed just two shots on goal – eight total – and were flattered by the end to have 45 percent of possession.

D.C.’s frustrations were illustrated in the 30th minute when after he fouled RSL defender Carlos Salcedo, United forward Eddie Johnson then kicked the ball at him from short range. Johnson was cautioned for unsporting behavior. Before Espindola entered the match in the 49th minute, there was no cohesiveness at all to the D.C. attack, and long balls pumped forward for Johnson resulted in very little.

Without Perry Kitchen in defensive midfield due to a suspension for accumulation of yellow cards, and with Jeff Parke still missing from central defense due to injury, United were horrible defensively at times Saturday night.. On Real Salt Lake’s first goal, Plata was allowed to wander right to the top of the six in the middle, between MLS All-Stars Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin, and head home past United goalkeeper (and fellow All-Star) Bill Hamid. Neither Boswell nor Franklin were in any kind of defensive position against Plata.

Javier Morales assisted on the next two goals, the first a worm-burning cross from the left, close to the D.C. goal that Schuler tapped home amid a considerable group of attackers and defenders. That made it 2-0 on 13 minutes and it was 3-0 in the 24th when Schuler scored again. This time he headed in a Morales corner, rising up between Boswell and Korb.

Schuler had a look on his face after his second goal like, “hey, that was too easy.” And it was. Whether it was Kitchen’s absence or just United not being on point, RSL dominated D.C. and United have a lot of work to do before hosting Colorado next Sunday at 8 p.m.

THE GOOD: It was nice to see Espindola return from injury and get about 40 minutes of action.

THE BAD: Pretty much the entire first half.

THE UGLY: See above.

NOTES: Toronto FC beat Columbus yesterday, pushing the Reds to within five points of second place United in the Eastern Conference. However, that result also helped United in a way, as D.C. are 10 points clear of Columbus for a playoff spot. … Nick Rimando’s shutout was the 113th of his career, a new MLS record. Rimando recorded 29 of those shutouts with United from 2002-2006. Kevin Hartman previously held the record with 112. … New United acquisition David Estrada entered in the 77th minute last night, making his D.C. debut. … The attendance was 20,452 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

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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