If you’ve read any of my, or anyone’s, postgame reports for D.C. United, you can see that the team comes out strong, plays hard, runs a solid defense, but then falls apart sometime after the 60 minute mark and loses the game. In every game after the opener against Kansas City, United got hit with late goals and deflated in the face of deficit. Against New England, it was the 80th minute; Against Chicago, it was the 80th minute; Against New York, it was the 51st minute; Against Dallas, it was the 68th minute; and last night against Colorado, it was the 67th that saw Ballouchy fake out Bill Hamid and screen himself with defender Peña to sweep a goal into the near corner.
United had numerous chances in the first half to make their mark, but just couldn’t commit that final shot, or follow the bead on a cross, or make a set piece into a goal. Defense was strong in the first half, as Peña made Casey Clark his personal mission, and Hamid was able shut down the Rapids. The second half, however, was a different story. As United began to feel the strain and the frustration, they just stopped hustling. I saw both forwards, Allsopp and Cristman, dial back in frustration as they didn’t get calls, or just missed plays. Watching them yell out in frustration at the officiating was difficult for many, as you can’t ever control the officiation in a game, all you can do is make the plays to the best of your ability.
After the game, Coach Onalfo was deeply frustrated. Several of his remarks were fairly sharp. When asked about the 60-minute barrier, he said that last night’s game “wasn’t part of that,” and then trailed off toward “no comment.” Why Coach Onalfo was okay with his players backing off slightly in the face of a missed call, though, is something that I can’t understand. When I was playing AYSO soccer as a little kid, we were drilled to keep playing until we heard the whistle, so Onalfo tolerating the defense’s failure in the face of a missed call rang a bit false for me.
What’s clear is that United is still suffering from an offensive drought. United’s -12 goal differential is the worst, by significant margin, in the league. They’ve been shut out in 6 of 8 games, and you’ll never pick up three points without at least one goal on the board. Midweek this week, Barra Brava reported in an email that the ownership and coaching staff are willing to do whatever it takes to turn this season around, and I think that if you’re United, you’ve got to look to your head coach to fix the nonexistent offense, and if you can’t do that, you have to switch the coaches and players up a bit.
Notes: Luciano Emilio was not available for Saturday’s game, citing “Fitness Issues,” after a long week of hard training. He will play in the Reserve match on Monday. United’s next match at RFK will be the friendly matchup against AC Milan on the 26th. On the 22nd, they’ll be in Houston to face the Dynamo.