DC get mentality right, but come up short on scoreboard

Emiliano Dudar

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Prior to Saturday night’s match against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium, D.C. United coach Ben Olsen challenged his group to change their mentality when it comes to playing on the road.

And following an 84-minute lightning delay, the result of D.C.’s improved approach on enemy pitch was, well, everything but a result.

“We talked all week about having to change our mentality on the road and the way we go about things to have success,” Olsen said following his side’s 1-0 loss. “I thought we did a lot of that. I thought it showed and the guys gave a hell of an effort. It’s just disappointing that the final stuff wasn’t there.”

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United did everything but finish in another disheartening road defeat. They’ve now lost six consecutive matches away from RFK Stadium and have been shut out in four of their last five road contests.

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“The team played extremely well,” said D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid. “We were buzzing about, creating chances. I’m not sure how we didn’t walk out of here with a win, but it was just a great effort from all those guys on the field.”

With the loss, United dropped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Both D.C. and Chicago have 41 points with the Fire having played two fewer games.

United now will have time to rest after collecting just five points in five matches over the last two weeks. Their next game is Sept. 15 at RFK against New England.

“We’ve got to stay together as a unit. What we’ve been doing on the field has been good, but we’ve got to take it 90 minutes,” said defender Brandon McDonald, who shifted to right back Saturday.

They need to take it to the goal as well. Leading scorer Chris Pontius had two solid opportunities in the first half and captain Dwayne De Rosario struck a sublime ball from 30-yards out that was deflected by Nick Rimando before hitting the woodwork. Had it gone in, it likely would have been a Goal of the Year candidate.

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“In the first half, I had a couple looks and De Ro had a good look. Rimando makes an unbelievable save,” Pontius said. “One of those goes in, the game changes completely.”

While D.C. admittedly feels better about this road performance compared to its previous four, with only seven matches remaining in the season, the time for moral victories is running short.

“If we put that type of effort and mentality into the rest of the season, I have faith that we’ll get where we want to be,” Olsen said.