It took less than 45 seconds for D.C. United to find themselves with their backs against the wall.
In need of a big road performance and three points away from home, United gave up a goal to Camilo Sanvezzo just 42 seconds in and couldn’t erase the niggling problems they’ve battled all season in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
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D.C. conceded a goal apiece in the first minute of both the first and second half to go down 2-0 on the road for the second time in three games. It was a deficit the team couldn’t erase despite a valiant second-half fight back, leaving United’s playoff hopes on even shakier ground.
“We’re obviously disappointed, especially with the way we started the game in the first half,” midfielder Stephen King told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “To give up a goal one minute into the game is crucial, it changes the game right there. For us right now we’re trying to push and make the playoffs, and to come out and have that kind of start is unacceptable.”
The two goals were almost identical in making as well – Jordan Harvey and Alain Rochat providing the service from the Whitecaps’ left flank, and strikers Camilo and Long Tan, respectively, finishing past United ‘keeper Bill Hamid. Tan got his goal less than a minute into the second half.
Problems like that have plagued D.C. throughout much of the 2011 season, and they reared their head again as the United really needed to at least manage a point out of Wednesday night’s encounter.
“It’s stuff we talked about,” King said of the lapses. “We talked about starting each half well, we talked about covering guys in the box and you need to be close enough to have a hand on them, have an arm on them. It’s just disappointing.
“We thought we responded well and played pretty well after we gave up the goals, we just need to make sure we start the games like that and kind of have a sense of urgency and desperation before something bad happens, and not waiting for something bad to happen and then react to it.”
It certainly leaves little margin for error with three games remaining, all which D.C. will look to win in order to clinch a playoff spot.
“I think that’s pretty clear from our standpoint,” forward Josh Wolff said. “We’ll regroup, try to get everybody healthy for the game at home against Chicago. It’ll be a difficult one…two teams coming in fighting for their lives.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on Twitter @travismclark