Another match, another loss, another shutout.
April has not been kind to D.C. United.
In four matches this month, all losses, United were outscored 9-2 and Saturday night saw their losing streak extended to five matches in a 3-0 loss in Columbus.
Perhaps, however, the outcome might have been different had it not been for a crucial call in the 23rd minute. With the Crew leading, 1-0, United appeared to have the equalizer when Perry Kitchen headed a ball past Crew 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum. But the goal was disallowed by referee Sorin Stoica, who whistled Kitchen for a foul on the play. Crew defender Josh Williams scored a minute later to put Columbus up 2-0.
“The call on Perry for the goal is wrong, so it should have been 1-1,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “Then I think he [Stoica] spent most of the game trying to make up for that call by giving us little cheap ones here and there. That gets frustrating, but it still comes down to the important plays in the match that we’re not taking care of.”
It’s the second time this season United have had a goal disallowed against Columbus.
“He [Stoica] made a pushing motion toward me like I pushed the guy [Jairo Arrieta],” Kitchen said. “I don’t think I did, but I haven’t seen the replay, so I’m not sure.”
Despite the controversial call, there’s plenty more that’s not going D.C.’s way and has them stuck at four points and in last place in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re not going to get anything given to us, so we’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to make sure that even if the referees are not on our side, we still have to be good enough to win games,” Olsen said. “We’re not putting blame on the referees. Certainly they didn’t help us, but we still have to make the plays that matter and we’re not doing that.”
For the second straight week, defensive lapses at key moments hurt United early. This time, usually-steady centerback Brandon McDonald was negatively involved in all three of Columbus’ goals, including committing a foul on Arrieta in the box that led to a successful penalty. McDonald was removed by Olsen at the half in favor of Ethan White.
“I don’t know what else to say. I let my guys down and that’s something they did not deserve,” McDonald said. “You take away those three goals and you come away from here with a point. It’s frustrating and very disappointing because I consider myself to be one of the leaders on this team and to do something like that, it’s not acceptable.”
While McDonald admittedly had a rough night, the attack again did everything but finish as United have yet to score a goal on the road this season.
“You’re gutted, certainly at the result, because there was some good stuff. Offensively, if you look at the way we went about it, I thought we were pretty good,” Olsen said. “I thought defensively almost everyone was pretty tuned in. We had a guy that had a bad night and that’s the way things have been going. We have been getting punished for what seems like any mistake we’ve been making.”
Nick Cammarota covers D.C. United for MLSsoccer.com.