After opening the season playing in cool, often rainy conditions, D.C. United had to face another orange opponent on Saturday during their game against the Houston Dynamo: the sun. With the temperature at 82 degrees, United wilted in the second half, falling to the Dynamo 1-0 in front of 22,039 at the new BBVA Compass Stadium.
“I think the heat affected us mentally, and affected our positioning,” United star Dwyane De Rosario told reporters after the match. “We were second to every ball, second to close on every man. We didn’t do a whole lot going forward, and the end of the day, it was a fair result.”
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
United actually got off to a decent start at the beginning of the match, taking the crowd out of the game and taking advantage of the revved up Houston squad.
But an injury to defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen changed the course of the game for United. From that point forward, the momentum decisively swung in Houston’s favor.
“The injury [to Kitchen] coincided with a real sense of fatigue throughout the team,” United manager Ben Olsen told reporters after the game. “We had a break all week, and guys were fresh, but the heat hit us pretty hard.”
As the game wore on and the United players began to slow down, Houston upped the pressure. At the final whistle the Dynamo had outshot D.C., 20-4, and outpossessed them, 55 percent to 45 percent.
“A couple of things went wrong today.” Olsen added. “It was the first time we had a little bit of heat. And we didn't do so well with it. But with the heat and the injuries, it was just a bit too much to overcome.”
The day, of course, marked the opening of the new BBVA Compass Stadium for the Dynamo, and several former Dynamo players for United, including goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad, De Rosario and Danny Cruz. That mattered little though. The result — the second loss in three league matches — mattered more.
“I’m really frustrated, and pretty sad actually,” Cruz said after the game. “To fight so hard and lose 1-0, I’m more upset than anything. They’re going to move up in the standings and we’re going to stay still.”
“It was always going to be a tough task here,” Olsen concluded. “When we saw this on the calendar, we knew we were opening up Houston’s stadium. They were going to put their field 70 yards wide, so it was always going to be a tough task for us. But credit the guys, they dug in, and did what they could.”