September 20, 2019

D.C. United Game 32 Recap: United throw away win late, settle for draw vs. Philly

For almost 70 minutes, the starting 11 that D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen sent out vs. the Philadelphia Union was working hard, running well off the ball, making sharp passes into space trusting their teammates would get to them, and United had been rewarded with the lead through Nick DeLeon’s long-distance strike before halftime.

Then, the substitutes entered the game, United’s possession disappeared, Philadelphia piled on the pressure, and after surviving a couple United chances, Jack McInerney (a Union substitute) scored in the 90th minute to give Philadelphia a 1-1 draw and a vital point before 11,213 at rainy RFK Stadium Saturday night. [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 Open Cup Game Recap: United ease past Revs into semifinals

D.C. United’s Major League Soccer season has mostly been a nightmare, what with just 2 wins so far in 16 matches. The U.S. Open Cup, however, has been a different story, with United now having advanced to the competition’s semifinals after Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over the New England Revolution at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md.

United got goals from Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, and Lionard Pajoy in the victory, which books the club a road trip to face the Chicago Fire in the semifinals on August 7. Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers will meet in the other semifinal, as only MLS clubs remain in the 100th edition of this annual tournament. [Read more…]

D.C. United Open Cup Game Recap: De Rosario’s hat trick sends United to quarterfinals

Dwayne De Rosario scored all three goals in D.C. United’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union tonight at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., as United defeated its Major League Soccer rival to advance to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. United will host the New England Revolution at the SoccerPlex on June 26 (7 p.m.). New England beat the New York Red Bulls, 4-2, tonight.

Despite an awful start to the MLS season that has seen United post a 1-10-3 record in 14 matches, United now finds itself just three victories from a trophy in 2013, one that would be the club’s third Open Cup championship. United also won the Open Cup, now in its 100th edition, in 1996 and 2008. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 7 RECAP: Two goals, but no points, for United vs. Philadelphia

Despite looking better at times in play and equaling its Major League Soccer season total with two goals, D.C. United lost at home to the Philadelphia Union, 3-2, in front of 12,349 at RFK Stadium Sunday afternoon. United fell to 1-5-1 (4 points) on the season, while the Union improved to 3-2-2 (11 points). The loss leaves United last in the Eastern Conference, 10 points behind leaders Sporting Kansas City.

Perry Kitchen (first of the season) and Lionard Pajoy (second) scored the two United goals, but they were too little, too late. The Union took a 2-0 lead early against a lethargic United side to start the game. Jack McInerney scored twice for Philadelphia, while Conor Casey added the other, as United lost its third straight home match following a 19-match unbeaten streak in the league stretching back to early last season. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 6 ANALYSIS: United scoring woes resemble those of club’s worst seasons

“It could be worse,” is often the tag line of the defeated, the thing someone says at the end of a bad day at work, a rough commute home, or upon finding out that someone stole your last cookie.

It might have been stated by one or two folks leaving RFK Stadium Saturday night, after D.C. United lost to the New York Red Bulls, 2-0. There aren’t many things worse than losing to your arch-rival, and United is winless against New York in two tries now this season (0-1-1, no goals scored).

But, United does have 4 points this season, though; they are 1-4-1, so in literal terms – yes, it could be worse. Heck, United went without a win at all in the first six matches of the 2003 season – though it should be noted that with four draws and two losses, that 2003 team had as many points after six matches as the current version does.

In fact, 2003 was the only season United failed to win a game in the first six. Of late, the early season hasn’t treated DC very well. The club hasn’t won as many as three of its first six matches in any season since 2006 (3-1-2). An anomaly there is 2009, when United went 2-1-3 in the first six, good for 9 points. Nine points would have United tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference this season. United are 6-14-4 over the last four years in the first six league matches of the season.

What is unprecedented, however, is the lack of goal production from United to start 2013. The two goals scored in six matches are the lowest number United has ever had at this point in any season – this is United’s 18th campaign as one of Major League Soccer’s charter clubs. The closest marks of futility to this year’s team were in 2010, when United, like this season, were shutout four times in the first six matches. However that year, United also scored twice in a pair of games to bank four goals after 540 minutes. United also only scored four goals in the first six matches of 2003, being shutout three times, scoring a single goal twice, and netting 2 in the season opener.

To put the numbers in perspective, consider in 1997 (which admittedly, is a completely different generation of MLS), United scored 16 goals in the first six matches, including five in a game twice. From 1997-2001, United scored at least 10 goals in the first six matches every year. United hasn’t scored five in a league match since 2006, a 5-1 home win over the Columbus Crew. The club record for goals in a game is six, done twice – most recently in 2004, also the last time United won MLS Cup.

Thinking about that stat of 16 goals in six games from 1997 (not including an added goal in the standings for a shootout win over Los Angeles), this United club is on pace to score 11 goals for the whole 2013 season.

It’s not been often that United have dealt with such a scoring drought. Early in MLS, goals seemed easy to find for DC, and tallying three or four per game was far from rare. Not surprisingly, United were also the league’s best club, winning MLS Cup in 1996, 1997, and 1999, while losing the 1998 final.

When the club’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in 2002 and United finished dead last in the league with 32 points (it was 10 teams then), United suffered its worst barren run. In a seven-game stretch from July 6 to August 10, United scored one goal – that coming in a 3-1 loss at home to Columbus on July 13. United were shutout in the other six games, earning points from three scoreless draws (at Chicago twice; home to Kansas City). United went scoreless in five consecutive matches from July 20 to August 10. The drought ended on August 17, when United managed a 2-2 tie at San Jose.

United finished that 2002 season 9-14-5, barely averaging more than a goal per game (31 goals in 28 matches, 1.11 per game). Bobby Convey and Ali Curtis tied for the club lead with five goals each. With a 34-game schedule now, this year’s club would need to score 36 goals in the final 28 games to match that 1.11 clip. Lionard Pajoy and Rafael’s one goal each lead the club now. Carlos Ruiz, now with United, led MLS in goals in 2002 with 24 while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 2010 season offers the only other examples of United scoring as few as two goals in a six-match period. The first came from April 17 to May 22, when United were shutout five times, and scored twice in a 2-1 win vs. Kansas City on May 5 (the only time in the run where the club earned any points). Later in 2010, United managed just two goals over seven matches – from June 26 to August 7. The club went 0-5-2 during that span.

That 2010 team also finished dead last in MLS, with 22 points from 30 matches (6-20-4), and only 21 goals scored. Like 2002, it only took five goals to win top honors on the team in 2010 – with Andy Najar and Danny Allsopp sharing the lead. United were shutout 17 times in 2010, as opposed to 12 times in 2002. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski led the league with 18 goals, while Dwayne De Rosario, the currently United midfielder then with Toronto FC, was third with 15.

Even though it’s early, there’s only one team in the league right now with fewer points than United, the Seattle Sounders, who have yet to win (0-3-2), and like United, have only scored twice. The Chicago Fire are also 1-4-1 and have four points.

Is it time to panic? With 28 matches left, maybe not. Is it time for changes? It has to be, but what can United do? Lionard Pajoy has started all six matches, played 514 minutes (meaning he’s only missed 26) and has one goal and just two shots on goal. Ruiz, acquired during the offseason, hasn’t played more than 26 minutes in any match this year and has yet to start. Ruiz does have four shots on goal in 79 minutes. Rafael scored on his debut vs. Columbus, but his long-range strike in that match is still his only shot on goal in 180 minutes over three appearances (all starts). Reserve Casey Townsend, 23, played for the Richmond Kickers (where he is on loan) over the weekend, and scored twice in a 4-1 win over Charleston.

While that is putting everything on the forwards, and there are more factors to the scoring issues than that, any team must have someone dangerous up front to contend. United has shown so far not to have such a danger. It may be that the answer lies outside the organization via trade, etc. But whatever happens, history has shown that United can’t continue down this path of meager offense. The moral of the story is, both years United have had such historic scoring droughts, they’ve finished as the worst team in the league. Which is no surprise really, bad teams often can’t score and teams that can’t score often are bad teams.

But it would have been difficult prior to the season to envision United finishing dead last in the league in 2013, especially off a successful season and playoff run last year. Something has to be done soon in order to change United’s path before it is too late.

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

D.C. United GAME 4 ANALYSIS: Home loss ends streak, raises questions

“It’s OK, it was a road game. They’ll be fine.”

This thought probably went through some people’s heads after D.C. United lost to the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, in the season opener. After all, it’s tough for most teams to win away form home in Major League Soccer (MLS), the Dynamo don’t lose at home, and no one is right to panic after one blemish on a 34-game slate. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 4 RECAP: Crew halt United’s home unbeaten streak at 19

D.C. United’s 19-match home unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) play came to an end Saturday afternoon as the Columbus Crew won, 2-1, in an entertaining affair that saw a little bit of everything. Great goals, fantastic saves, curious officiating, this one had it all. But in the end, the majority of it didn’t go United’s way.

United slipped to 1-2-1 on the season (4 points), while the Crew improved to 2-1-1 (7 points). United hadn’t lost a league match at home since the 2012 season opener, when Sporting Kansas City scored a goal in second-half stoppage time to gain a 1-0 victory.

It was Ben Speas’ strike in the 58th minute that proved to be the game-winner. On a Columbus corner, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid knocked away the kick, taken by Crew forward Federico Higuain. The rebound was met by Speas right at the 18, and his low shot eluded Hamid to the goalkeeper’s left, making it 2-1. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 3 ANALYSIS: United must pack greater punch for the road

With three matches gone now in the 2013 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, D.C. United has played twice on the road, failing to score a goal in either contest. On the bright side, United still have managed 1 point from the two trips, thanks to sharp goalkeeper Bill Hamid and the friendly neighborhood crossbar in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at the New York Red Bulls.

United struck for just two shots on goal against the Red Bulls, one each by Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario. Granted, that’s infinitely better than the zero shots on goal posted in a season-opening 2-0 loss at Houston. However, De Rosario, one of the key pieces of the attack, missed that Houston match due to suspension. His return would have led some to hope United’s offense to show more spark at New York, but for the most part, that wasn’t the case.

[Read more…]

D.C. United GAME RECAP: All joy for Pajoy, United in 1-0 win vs. RSL

Lionard Pajoy’s diving header past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando gave D.C. United a 1-0 win over RSL at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., Saturday night. The win levels United’s Major League Soccer season record at 1-1, 3 points. RSL, winners last week at San Jose, slipped to 1-1, 3 points.

Pajoy, who had struggled prior to the goal and didn’t do much after it, made the most of his one shining moment. On a United corner kick in the 60th minute, the ball left the penalty area and was met by United midfielder J0hn Thorrington. Thorrington patiently waited a second before chipping the ball over the onrushing Real Salt Lake defenders. Thorrington’s touch forced Rimando to dive all out to his right, and he saved the shot with his hand. But that left the rebound available in the penalty area with only Pajoy to play it. He dove forward and headed the ball home for United’s first goal of the season.

Rimando and some RSL teammates looked for an offside call on Pajoy, but it rightly wasn’t given. Pajoy was clearly onside when Thorrington shot the ball, thus it was perfectly legal for him, unmarked, to follow up and score.

[Read more…]

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