DC United can’t overcome slow start against Everton
WASHINGTON — It’s never easy to overcome a slow start in MLS, going down two goals early in the first half. Try doing it against an English Premier League side.
D.C. United were unable to accomplish that Saturday night against Everton, as the home side conceded two goals within the game’s first 20 minutes in a 3-1 loss.
“We can’t put ourselves behind 2-0 to a good team,” midfielder Chris Pontius said. “Can’t do that in MLS, can’t do that against an EPL team. You’re chasing the game the whole time.”
Despite it being a friendly match with no bearing on the standings, the first 45 minutes were displeasing to DC head coach Ben Olsen.
“First half I was extremely disappointed in several players that just didn’t that you don’t just walk onto a field, any field and play 60-70 percent,” he said. “I know it’s been a long week and maybe I’m making too much of this, because it is a friendly, but it just wasn’t good enough for me.”
Sloppy defending was at fault on Everton’s early goals. In the fourth minute, Brandon McDonald couldn’t keep up with Everton striker Victor Anichebe, who ran in behind DC’s back line.
Just 12 minutes later, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov beat the offside trap, collected a through-ball and beat goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
“It was a little bit of miscommunication and not following runners through the midfield,” defender Marc Burch said. “They got the better of us, and finished their chances.”
It would be unfair to stake it all on the defense, however, as McDonald was the lone starter out on the field in the first half. Burch and Dejan Jakovic got the start from long injury absences while rookie Chris Korb played at right back.
After the break things improved as United made several substitutions. Regulars Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario joined the fray, and Olsen noticed an improvement.
“Second half I thought was good,” he said. “I thought Pontius and Kitchen both came in and gave us the right mentality.”
They were rewarded with a goal two minutes into the half after De Rosario found Pontius with a long ball over Everton’s back line.
That was all the scoring DC would see despite creating numerous chances. The final whistle brought disappointed, but United managed to also emerge from the game without sustaining major injuries, and will get some time to rest and regroup.
“It has been a long week and a half, and I think everybody needs to get away from the game for two days, the staff included and come back Tuesday and make sure we’re committed for the rest of the season,” Olsen said.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.