Cup hangover? DC United left victimized by ruthless Fire: "When we play like that, we shouldn’t lose 3-0"

WASHINGTON – As the final whistle blew at RFK Stadium, D.C. United found itself on the wrong end of a 3-0 loss to Chicago, the third time they’ve fallen to the Fire this season.

Minutes later, however, D.C.’s supporters were bouncing in the orange risers on the far side of the pitch, cheering in full throat.

That's because United’s players and coach Ben Olsen walked the US Open Cup trophy they won Tuesday – thanks to a gritty 1-0 upset of Real Salt Lake – along the sideline to share it with their fans.

Still…

“Another loss at home is a disappointment,” said United captain Dwayne De Rosario. “It would have been nice to get a win and celebrate [the Open Cup title] the right way.”

But D.C., who lost for the 22nd time this season and remain winless in nine consecutive matches (0-7-2), failed to capitalize on the momentum gained from Tuesday’s win. This defeat was the club’s ninth at home this year.

“The scoreline’s a bit disappointing and I think that’s going to hurt our pride, but overall if we can take a look back and I look at the film of this game, I think there’s going to be a lot of good stuff to build on,” said United coach Ben Olsen.

D.C.’s opening 25 minutes were indeed encouraging. The partnership between Luis Silva, Conor Doyle and Jared Jeffrey (three July acquisitions, all under 25 years old) worked well. The trio were creative, efficient and even dangerous – something fans at RFK Stadium haven’t seen much of this year.

Something United fans have watched more than their fair share of, however, is an inability to finish scoring opportunities. Granted, a large part of that was because Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson was stellar, but D.C.’s players acknowledged they need to convert more frequently.

“I think we all wanted to get out there and play again after seeing Tuesday’s result,” said Doyle, who twice was denied by Johnson. “I thought we played really well, we just didn’t score. Me being a forward, that’s pretty frustrating on my part.”

Everything else worked in United’s favor.

United out-possessed Chicago, 67 percent to 33 percent, completed more than twice as many passes as the Fire and generated eight shots on target. They also won 12 corner kicks to Chicago’s three – but were still shut out for the 15th time in 2013.

“Between the boxes we were dominant, but in the 18-yard box – on both sides – they beat us,” said Jeffrey, who blasted a shot off the post in the 14th minute. “When we play like that, we shouldn’t lose 3-0.”

Olsen said he’s likely to continue to tinker with the lineup in his club’s final three matches as he evaluates players with an eye toward next season.

“I don’t think our priority is to try to knock [playoff-contending] teams off, our priority is to start winning some games and put some points on the table,” he said.