Despite erasing a two-goal deficit to enter the half tied 2-2, the same defensive mistakes that pegged D.C. United early in the first half proved costly in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union.
Failure to close down hard-charging rookie Michael Farfan allowed the midfielder to lash home the winner in the second half. It was a microcosm of the defensive errors on the night.
"Overall, we probably deserved to come out on the short end," head coach Ben Olsen told reporters after the game. "All three goals were just very, very school boy mistakes. Balls over the top, and then diving in on the 3rd one — just bad mistakes, and they’re pretty tough to capitalize on."
All week, Olsen had preached that what the team needed to do all week in order to taste success against the Union was to put forth the same defensive effort from last weekend’s 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
But on Thursday night, defensive lapses allowed Philadelphia’s Sébastien Le Toux to score twice within the opening 15 minutes.
“It’s certainly concerning that you start that way,” forward Josh Wolff said in a phone call with MLSsoccer.com. “They had three or four [chances] that came across in the first 5-10 minutes for sure. That put us in a difficult position.”
On the first goal, Ethan White had a bit of misfortune, as he didn’t see the long ball looping in towards the back, deflecting it straight to Le Toux. But on both of the Frenchman’s early tallies, the dangerous forward was gifted far too much room for a player of his caliber.
Down two goals, United responded, and tallies from Dwayne De Rosario and Andy Najar brought the score level at the break, and brought a result within sight.
“At that point, we’re back in the game, everything to play for,” Wolff said.
And after another wild start to the second half that saw both sides continue to attack, D.C.’s defense again erred on Farfan’s winner. No one closed the rookie down after center back Brandon McDonald’s wild sliding challenged opened up another gap in the defense.
“It’s disappointing that we let in another goal that probably had a couple points on the play we could have broken it up,” Wolff said. “Give [Farfan] credit, he finished it well.”
The loss denied D.C. a second straight win on the season, and the attention now shifts to Sunday’s match against the Columbus Crew. (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online)
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on Twitter @travismclark.