Deep into the final minutes of D.C. United’s 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night, the Black-and-Red looked poised to find an equalizer.
In the 87th minute, a wild scramble in the Columbus penalty area ended only after both Dwayne De Rosario and Long Tan had point-blank shots blocked by the Crew defense. A minute later Chris Korb beat Columbus goalie Andy Gruenebaum, only to see his shot hit the wrong side of the near post. A series of four consecutive added time corner kicks provided D.C. with a flurry of last chances, none of which ended in a goal.
Full Match Highlights
After all was said and done, the fact that United came so agonizingly close to salvaging a road point only served to further the Black-and-Red’s frustration.
“It just wasn’t a good enough performance – over ninety minutes - to get a road result,” midfielder Perry Kitchen said bluntly from inside the D.C. locker room. “It wasn’t good enough overall. We could have had more edge and been more organized.”
Dwayne De Rosario agreed with his counterpart in central midfield, and offered some clear starting points if D.C. is to pull itself out of this mid-summer malaise.
“We still need to get a little angrier defensively,” said De Rosario. “We are too nice back there. We need to get in more on tackles. We have to have more bite and more aggressiveness.”
Compounding United’s misery were a series of other results from around MLS. Victories for New York and Houston made for further crowding atop the eastern table, and D.C.’s status as a conference-title contender is squarely in jeopardy. After sitting in first place for much of June, the Black-and-Red now find themselves in fourth.
“Hopefully guys didn’t get complacent because you can see how fast things turn around in this league,” noted midfielder Chris Pontius. “We went from first to fourth in a week or so. There’s no reason to have any cockiness, any complacency, we haven’t made the playoffs in four years.”
While his players echoed each others’ frustrations, Head Coach Ben Olsencalled his team ‘unlucky’ not to have earned a draw. The young coach seldom lauded his group during the May winning streak that saw D.C. shoot up the standings, and he wasn’t about to condemn them on Saturday night.
Instead, Olsen had already turned his attention to August 4 - when his team will get another shot at the Crew.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Olsen said. “We’ll get back at it. We have a week where we will play Paris St. Germain, and use that as a good exercise. Then we’ll try and get our revenge against Columbus.”