WASHINGTON - Many followers of Major League Soccer's past few weeks might have predicted a 3-0 scoreline in the second matchup of the season between the streaking San Jose Earthquakes and slumping MLS Cup holder D.C. United. But few would likely have picked the correct victor.
San Jose came into the match on a roll, undefeated in its past seven outings and riding the euphoria of a rousing 2-1 road victory against Columbus last week. But they had no such luck tonight against a dominant United team, playing before its home crowd with a sense of urgency and remarkable unity.
The Quakes were on the wrong end of a 3-0 result, with United's Christian Gomez scoring twice and Jaime Moreno adding a goal of his own. The visitors were able to manufacture a semblance of an attack on precious few occasions, and looked little like the team that came into the match sitting in second place in the top-heavy Western Conference.
The lackluster effort for San Jose started in the back, and defender Danny Califf was the first to admit it.
"Tonight (there) was no excuse and it started with me," he said. "It just was not good enough today."
Fellow defender Wade Barrett also wasn't exactly ecstatic about conceding three goals to a United team that has at times struggled to find the back of the net.
"I feel like those (goals) came from our breakdowns," said Barrett, "us not being as sharp as we should have been. We have done a good job the last few weeks of not giving up goals like that, communicating, and not giving them chances. (Unfortunately) tonight we did not do as good a job. It was not any one player, it was just too many of us not as sharp as we wanted to be tonight."
Barrett also said the subpar performance wasn't only a product of the breakdowns in the back line, but a general lethargy all over the field.
"It was just an off night for us," he noted. "I think you can have nights where one or two guys don't have enough left in the tank - and I think we had too many guys (like that tonight).
"We were just running on empty tonight. After the last couple of weeks, with the traveling and games, too many of us just had off nights."
Earthquakes attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, probably the team's lone bright spot tonight given his tireless work rate and handful of opportunistic runs at goal, said he was excited to return to his club after Canadian national team duty in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but was disappointed with the outcome.
"I felt good," he said of getting back in the mix after fulfilling his obligation to his country. "I wanted to play and wanted to be involved. I tried to make things change and push up as much as possible to create some chances for the team ... but right when we were starting to push forward they got another goal which made it 2-0.
"The heads went down (after that), we gave up another goal and that was basically it."
Omar Garriott is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.