D.C. United "not worried yet" despite slow start, home loss to NYCFC

WASHINGTON – D.C. United welcomed New York City FC to RFK Stadium on Sunday evening. NYCFC made themselves right at home.

The visitors emerged victorious, riding a pair of goals from David Villa and Khiry Shelton to a 2-0 win. Battered by injuries, D.C. were punished by a suddenly in-form New York side.

It wasn’t all bad for United. After a shaky opening quarter hour, they managed a few early chances – but after Alvaro Saborio missed a pair of close-range attempts, the field seemed to tilt in New York’s favor.

“If you don’t reward yourself for some of the good things that you do against a team like NYCFC –  who have real talent in the attack – they’re going to find something,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “They very rarely don’t score goals. On the defensive end, though, I don’t rate them as highly as I do on the offensive end. So you gotta go score some goals. But we didn’t reward ourselves.”

D.C. were dealt another blow when Patrick Nyarko – United’s most threatening attacker so far in 2016 – left the game in the 26th minute with an apparent illness. He joined a host of others who missed the match. Chris Rolfe was suspended for Sunday’s encounter and is out indefinitely with a concussion. Fabian Espindola continues to recover from a strained hamstring. And Bill Hamid – who’s been out for weeks after knee surgery – remains on the mend.

“It was a rough game tonight, it just didn’t feel like we got a rhythm,” D.C. and USMNT center back Steve Birnbaum said. “They dictated the tempo of the game – credit to them for that. But it didn’t seem like we could find ourselves. A couple of poor decisions in the final third and then we gave up two second-half goals which was a little devastating. It was just a rough game. “

D.C. have traditionally been solid at home, form that’s all but disappeared during their slow start. During his post-game press conference, Olsen suggested that D.C. are “still a work in progress, still figuring out who we are.” Birnbaum did not disagree.

“We’ve had some gutsy games, but tonight we were kind of flat,” he said. “We’re still trying to find ourselves. A couple breaks here and there and we’ll be back on it.

“I’m not worried yet. We’ve got a good group of guys.”