WASHINGTON – The shimmering, freshly-polished Atlantic Cup trophy sat on a center table in D.C. United’s locker room on Wednesday night next to an autographed soccer ball.
Next to that was a bin of candy, which received significantly more attention than the shining, silver-plated caldron.
After Dwayne De Rosario’s 100th career regular-season MLS goal appeared as though it would give United three critical points and push the club into third place in the Eastern Conference standings, New York defender Wilman Conde’s 88th-minute right-footer postponed the party.
HIGHLIGHTS: D.C. United 2, New York 2
Fourth place it would be for United, the Atlantic Cup becoming nothing more than an ignored prize awarded on a tiebreaker. The teams split the season series, 1-1-1.
United are six points behind conference leaders Sporting Kansas City, five behind the Red Bulls and two ahead of both Montreal and Columbus.
“Overall, it’s not a good result,” said United midfielder Nick DeLeon, who scored a goal and assisted De Rosario’s 100th. “I feel like we should have [come] out of it with a win. … [Conde] hit an unbelievable shot at the end, but we still had chances to score. To me, it feels like a loss.”
Ben Olsen, recovering from a cold, seconded his rookie’s sentiments.
“It’s a tough one to take,” D.C.’s head coach said. “I don’t feel so hot right now, but it’s OK. We still continue to do an OK job at home. It’s just a tough one right now.”
Indeed, United haven’t lost in 13 home matches, tying the club record set in 2007. But with two of those results being frustrating draws in August – the controversial tie against Philadelphia and Conde’s long-distance shocker – they can’t help but dwell on four lost points.
“The game was there,” said defender Dejan Jakovic (above). “It was ours. What can you say? It’s a tough one to have the win and then for a left-footed player to strike it like that with his right foot, I give him a lot of credit. If you gave him 100 balls, he probably wouldn’t be able to do it again.”
Though D.C. were out-possessed (57-42 percent) Wednesday, they outshot New York, 12-10, and frequently threatened in the second half.
“We had a lot of looks,” Olsen said. “They had a little bit more possession. They were there a little bit more throughout the game with the ball, but we were dangerous.”
While the loss stings, D.C. have one more match remaining in their five-game, two-week onslaught, a Saturday trip to Real Salt Lake.
“We don’t have a lot of time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Olsen said. “We go away to a very tough place to play at Salt Lake and that game now means even more. We’ll regroup. We’ll cry about it tonight and move on with the season, because it’s still there.”