September 21, 2019

D.C. United Analysis: First-quarter evaluation, part 1 – Goalkeepers

Simply based on results, it would have been massively difficult for D.C. United to be as bad (or worse) than it was in 2013. A 3-24-7 record, just 16 points in the standings, and a goal differential of -37 added up to one of the worst seasons by any team in Major League Soccer history, even if it was capped off by a victory at Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup final – the team’s 13th major trophy.

So to say United has surpassed expectations in this first quarter or so of the 2014 MLS season isn’t necessarily earth-shattering. But even with several new acquisitions and the departure of multiple players from last year’s clunker of a squad, it’s not likely that many would have had United sitting tied for third place in the Eastern Conference after nine matches, with a winning record (4-3-2) and almost as many points (14) as all of last season. United carry a modest +2 goal differential, a serious step up to this point last season, when United was 1-7-1 (4 points) and had a goal differential of -13. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 30 Recap: Toronto overpowers United in D.C.’s final Open Cup prep

Toronto FC scored two goals in four minutes midway through the second half to break open a 1-1 match and eventually polished off D.C. United, 4-1, before an announced crowd of 15,879 at BMO Field in Toronto. The loss drops United to a record of 3-21-6 (15 points) for the 2013 Major League Soccer season. Toronto improved to 5-15-11 (26 points).

United are now the worst team in MLS by a full 11 points, trailing by that amount both Toronto and Chivas USA in the 19-team league.

The match was a glorified exhibition affair for United, who play at Real Salt Lake on Tuesday night in the U.S. Open Cup final. That match will present United with the opportunity to win its 13th major trophy since the club began play in 1996, and its first Open Cup since 2008.

As such, the lineup for today’s game was something you might see out of D.C. United in a February preseason friendly against Joe’s Dart Shop FC. Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, Luis Silva, Dejan Jakovic, Ethan White, James Riley, Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, and goalkeeper Bill Hamid all sat this match out. Midfielder Sainey Nyassi started in defense, youngsters Jared Jeffrey, Collin Martin, and Kyle Seaton all started, and Conor Doyle and Casey Townsend were among the substitutes.

Early, the result was about 10 minutes of constant Toronto possession to start the match, but TFC did nothing with it. Then, United took the lead in spectacular fashion in the 15th minute, thanks to Jeffrey.

Given plenty of space nearly 30 yards from goal in the middle, Jeffrey smartly took advantage of the opportunity, setting up a left-footed shot that sneaked in under the crossbar and into the corner to Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik’s right. Bendik dove full out to try and save it, but wasn’t able to get a hand on it as Jeffrey hit it at the perfect pace, in the perfect place, and got the perfect result.

The goal was Jeffrey’s second of the 2013 Major League Soccer season in this, his 6th appearance.

United held the lead, however, for just 10 minutes, as has often been the case this season, a D.C. advantage on the scoreboard was quickly wiped away.

This time, it was poor defending off a free kick that doomed United, as it has for much of the season. Nyassi, playing out of position, gave away a free kick deep on Toronto’s left. The free kick bounced across the penalty area, and United failed to clear. The ball eventually found the foot of Toronto midfielder Darel Russell on the right side of the area, and he hit a right-footed laser just off the hand of Joe Willis and inside the far post to tie the match.

It was Russell’s 3rd goal of the season and one that could have been prevented, either from United clearing the free kick in the first place, or if someone had marked Russell, who had plenty of room to Willis’ left to notch the equalizing goal.

For much of the season, United has struggled defensively – having conceded 52 goals in the league this season (2nd most; Chivas USA, 54), so without the normal starters, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the defense fell apart today.

With the match still 1-1 in the 67th minute, the dam broke.

Off a turnover, Toronto played a long and somewhat aimless ball up the right attacking flank. United midfielder Marcelo Saragosa was left on his own to fend off TFC’s Andrew Wiedeman. Saragosa had position, but let Wiedeman get by him, then dragged him to the turf. The assistant referee almost on top of the play waved his flag for a foul, but head referee Ted Unkel played advantage as Mark Bloom ran on to the ball unopposed for a cross.

That cross from Willis’ left was met by an unmarked Bright Dike, who volleyed the ball past Willis to make it 2-1 Toronto.

TFC increased its lead to 3-1 just 4 minutes later, after another United turnover in the attacking half. This time, it led to a 3-on-2 for Toronto in the United defensive third, with Wiedeman laying a ball off to his right for Álvaro Rey. Rey worked deep toward the end line and then tried to cross, but the ball was deflected by United defender Conor Shanosky past Willis for an own goal.

Toronto finished the scoring in the 87th minute when Rey possessed the ball in the penalty area, neatly cut the ball twice past United players (Saragosa and Casey Townsend), and finished for a fine individual goal.

United had but two shots on goal in the match, both in the first half, and never seriously threatened to make a game of it once Toronto FC assumed control in the second half.

All of today’s errors could be forgiven should United emerge victorious on Tuesday night, for what would be D.C.’s 3rd Open Cup title (United also won in 1996). There are but four matches left in the league season now, the next coming Friday night at RFK Stadium against the Chicago Fire (8 p.m. Eastern). United still need a point from its final four matches to not be the worst team in MLS history by points per game average.

TORONTO 4-1 UNITED

Goals:
DC – Jeffrey 2, 15th minute.
TOR – Russell 3, 25th minute.
TOR – Dike 1 (Bloom 1), 67th minute.
DC – Shanosky, own goal, 71st minute.
DC – Rey 1 (Braun 2), 87th minute.

Discipline:
DC – Martin, yellow, 37th minute.
TOR – Dike, yellow, 45th minute.
TOR – Russell, yellow, 62nd minute.
DC – Saragosa, yellow, 68th minute.

Statistics:
Shots:  TOR 12-7 DC
Shots on Goal:  TOR 6-2 DC
Corners:  TOR 4-1 DC
Fouls:  TOR 8-14 DC
Offside:  TOR 0-0 DC
Possession:  TOR 46.3%-53.7% DC

UNITED (3-21-6):  Willis; Kemp, Nyassi, Shanosky, Woolard (Doyle 46′); Jeffrey (Iapichino 70′), Martin, Saragosa, Porter (Townsend 80′); Pajoy, Seaton.

TORONTO (5-15-11):  Bendik; Henry, Morgan, Bloom, Agbossoumonde; Convey (Lambe 85′), Russell, Rey, Hall; Dike (Braun 82′), Wiedeman (Bekker 90′).

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.

D.C. United Open Cup Recap: United marches on to Cup final, bests Fire 2-0

In what will likely be its worst Major League Soccer season ever, D.C. United will play in the U.S. Open Cup final.

United secured passage to the championship match of the 100th Open Cup with a 2-0 win at the Chicago Fire tonight, on goals just before and after halftime by Dwayne De Rosario (44th minute) and Nick DeLeon (48th minute). Joe Willis was in goal for the shutout for United, making six saves and having two shots he couldn’t stop saved off the line by Perry Kitchen and James Riley, respectively, in the second half. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 20 Recap: Fire strike early, rout United, 4-1

It took less than 2 minutes for D.C. United to fall behind the Chicago Fire – just less than 12 minutes to trail 2-0. By halftime, United trailed, 3-0, and it was 4-0 before there was any kind of response, a nice Luis Silva strike from distance. But as nice as that goal was (and it was a beauty), it was way too little, way too late as the Fire demolished United, 4-1, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

United fell to 2-14-4 (10 points) with the loss, still the worst record among 19 clubs in Major League Soccer. The Fire improved to 7-9-3 (24 points). [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 19 Recap: United earns point as Rapids can’t beat Willis

D.C. United goalkeeper Joe Willis made seven saves to keep the Colorado Rapids off the scoreboard and earn United a road point in a 0-0 draw Sunday night before 14,739 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. The tie put United’s record for the 2013 Major League Soccer season at 2-13-4 (10 points), which leaves D.C. last in MLS. The Rapids are now 7-7-6 (27 points, 6th West).

As has been the case for much of the season, United provided very little offensive threat, despite head coach Ben Olsen removing Lionard Pajoy from the starting lineup and replacing him with Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz had a couple looks on goal in his 83 minutes – but Rapids goalkeeper Clinton Irwin saved both. The best chance came in the 53rd minute, when Ruiz got the ball on the left with an open look at goal, but his shot was saved by Irwin, who had come about 8 yards off his line to cut off the angle. Ruiz’s two shots on goal were the only ones United registered in the match. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 18 Recap: Martins leaves United defenseless in Seattle

Ten Major League Soccer teams played last night, one didn’t score a goal. If you have been following D.C. United during this 2013 MLS season, you can guess which team it was.

United fell to 2-13-3 (9 points) on the season with a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, before a spirited crowd of 39,180. The Sounders are 7-2-2 after starting the season 0-3-2, and improved to 7-5-4 (25 points) overall. [Read more…]

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.

D.C. United Open Cup Game Recap: United survive Richmond’s upset bid in penalties

For 120 minutes in Richmond Tuesday night, D.C. United did what D.C. United mostly does – fail to score. But this time, United found a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of penalty kicks. United outscored the Richmond Kickers, 4-2, in the penalty shootout to defeat the Kickers after a 0-0 draw through regulation and extra time in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup at City Stadium.

United advances to host Major League Soccer rival Philadelphia Union in the fourth round on June 12, according to thecup.us. The Union defeated the Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL), 2-1, on a stoppage time goal by former United midfielder Brian Carroll. [Read more…]

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