April 22, 2021

D.C. United Game 13 Recap: United lose 2-0 at Chicago; winless streak reaches 11

Make it 10 losses in 13 matches for D.C. United. Nothing changed Sunday afternoon in United’s disastrous 2013 Major League Soccer season, as Nick DeLeon was credited with a first-half own goal, and newly-acquired Fire forward Mike Magee scored his first goal for his new team late in the second half in Chicago’s 2-0 win before 14,546 at Toyota Park. The Fire improved to 3-7-2 (11 points) with the win.

United, now 1-10-2, have still only scored six goals on the season, but most discouraging about this loss is that entering today’s match, the Fire weren’t much more potent than United, having scored seven goals in 11 matches. United helped the Fire with the DeLeon own goal, an unlucky deflection created by some porous defense inside the penalty area. The Fire then added one of their own to the tally, when Magee finished a counterattack and a nice feed from Patrick Nyarko to complete the scoring. Former United player Maicon Santos was credited with the second assist on Magee’s goal.

Worse for United, next week D.C. plays at New England, after the Revolution demolished the Los Angeles Galaxy today, 5-0.

There were few bright spots on a day that saw United’s winless streak reach 11 matches. United hasn’t won since March 9 against Real Salt Lake, a span of nearly three months. Defender Conor Shanosky, 21, earned his first MLS start by appearing in the United defense, with James Riley, Daniel. Woolard, and Chris Korb. Shanosky played 120 minutes in United’s 0-0 draw at the Richmond Kickers on Tuesday in the US Open Cup, where United eventually advanced to the next round on penalties. Shanosky was replaced by Sainey Nyassi after 64 minutes.

When called upon, goalkeeper Joe Willis made a strong save in the first half, diving to his right at the post to keep United in the match at that point, down 1-0. The Fire didn’t test him often, getting just three shots on goal, but that was three more than United had on a day where the black-and-red once again lacked ideas and didn’t recognize opportunities in front of them.

Before Magee’s goal put the game away, there were two situations where United players had plenty of open space and gave the ball away. On the first, John Thorrington, a second-half substitute for Dwayne De Rosario who was making his first appearance since a long injury absence, had open space and turned the ball over to two Fire defenders. Minutes later, Rafael, another substitute, had open space in front of him and instead dribbled left, into a Fire defender, and the United build up ended.

The Fire had no such issues, Nyarko especially taking advantage of whatever space was given, and the Fire for the most part were quicker than United in many situations, keeping control of the game despite only having less than 40 percent of the possession. Nyarko got free to take a pass on the right wing from Santos in the 85th minute. He then fired a lead ball left and diagonally to Magee, who beat the rest of the United defense and finished past Willis.

There was no way back from that for United, who now must try and take down an on-form Revolution team next Saturday away from home, where United hasn’t won all year, if this long winless streak is to end before reaching its three-month anniversary.

United fell behind in the first half, when D.C. failed to successfully defend a Chicago free kick from the left of Willis. Joel Lindpere took the free kick and it bounced well short of the goal, in a mass of one Fire and two United players. The ball somehow got past all of them, with neither United player able to clear it. Chicago’s Jeff Larentowicz appeared to be on target to get a shot, but United midfielder Perry Kitchen got a touch on the ball back toward the goal, but it then deflected off teammate Nick DeLeon, high and over Willis into the net.

The goal was similar to others United have given up this year, where free kicks and/or corner kicks are played into the penalty area and either are not cleared effectively, or players are in the wrong position to mark attackers, and one or two bad bounces later, the ball is in United’s net.

United almost equalized in the first half when Dwayne De Rosario hit the crossbar on a shot from distance. Carlos Ruiz, in the starting lineup for just the second time in league play this season, tried a long chip shot later in the first half to catch Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson off his line, but missed the net. Ruiz had two shots in the match, and United eight total, but none were officially on target, despite De Rosario’s shot bouncing off the crossbar.

For the season, United are on pace for 13 points and 16 goals scored. United are now 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, sitting last with 5 points. With its win today over the Galaxy, New England is now tied with the Philadelphia Union for the fifth and last playoff berth in the East.

Ed Morgans is a Contributor to District Sports Page, covering D.C. United. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

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