For D.C. United, it all came undone in a matter of seconds.
A makeshift defense kept the team within striking distance against Colorado throughout much of Sunday’s game, and United remained down a goal with 20 minutes to go. When Santino Quaranta dramtically equalized in the 70th minute, a hard-earned result away from home was in sight.
But it all unraveled a minute later. Colorado defender Anthony Wallace had enough time to float in a cross into the DC box, and it found the head of an unmarked Jamie Smith, and just like that the Rapids were back in the lead.
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“It’s a situation where you get yourself back in the game and the only thing you can’t let happen is let them come back with a goal right away, and we did,” Quaranta said. “They score a goal, and it’s a huge letdown because you work so hard to get back in the game.”
Smith’s goal killed the momentum United generated before they had even scored – DC had looked lively, controlling possession and looking threatening to that point in the second half. The Rapids then rode the surge to add two more goals late in the second half to put the game away.
“We felt like we had all the momentum, and then we get the goal, and we have all the momentum,” defender Chris Korb said. “It’s a backbreaker, they score in the next minute. It’s tough to come back physically and emotionally in a tough place to play like Colorado."
Korb, who was starting his second straight game because of an injury to Jed Zayner, held his own through the evening against the Rapids' front line of Conor Casey and Caleb Folan. He started alongside Rodrigo Brasesco and Daniel Woolard, forming a defense that hadn’t seen much time during the preseason.
[inline_node:332812]Up until Smith’s goal, they had more or less kept things together, save for Folan’s first-half strike. But when the momentum swung back towards Colorado, things unraveled over the last 10 minutes.
There were, however, a couple of bright spots in defeat. Rookie Blake Brettschneider made his first league appearance, going 90 minutes and producing DC’s best chance of the first half.
And Korb put in another solid shift on the right side, setting up Quaranta’s goal with a good, looping cross.
“I looked up and there was a bunch of people in the box, and I saw ‘Tino kind of drifting at the back post,” he said. “I tried to pick him out and he did a great job to finish it.”
At the end of the day, it’s a second straight loss for DC on the road. Quaranta emphasized the need to learn from this experience, especially for a young team in the early stages of a long season.
“These are all parts of learning and becoming a better team,” he said. “With the amount of guys we have out at the back line it’s a learning experience…we just have to learn, get better as a team. That’s all you can do – it’s early.”