By now the formula is nauseating.
Suffer a costly defensive misstep in the first half, lose a key individual battle or two, and toss in a lack of class in the final third and D.C. United stumble their way to another loss.
Such was the case Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field against the Seattle Sounders in United’s 2-0 loss – the club’s 11th shutout and 13th loss in 18 matches this season.
“It’s tough to say, but I was pleased with most of the way we played – the way we built up our attack,” said United coach Ben Olsen. “But again, the final stuff just isn’t there. The quality just isn’t there. It’s a very frustrating thing because we’re getting the right numbers there, we’re getting in the right situations to get good service … the numbers are there. It’s just not clicking.”
Playing without captain Dwayne De Rosario – who has found solid form recently but is battling a hip injury – and winger Nick DeLeon, D.C. created few opportunities without two of their primary attacking options.
“There’s some help at home as well, which I think would’ve helped us a little bit tonight,” Olsen said. “We’re looking. We are looking for help. But again, I still feel solid about this team. I’m not blowing smoke. I still like a lot of what I saw tonight. That’s one of the frustrating parts about this – I like so much about parts of our group. We’re just not getting the final stuff right.”
Lionard Pajoy, who Olsen has used sparingly of late, started up top for United. He attempted two shots in 90 minutes and was whistled for offsides five times, including once on what had the potential to be an excellent chance late in the second half.
Pajoy included, United rarely found themselves in dangerous positions in the final third, instead settling for shots from distance. While Perry Kitchen tested Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning in the 84th minute, as did Chris Pontius with a blast in the 64th, United’s service game was unsteady all evening.
“It’s still the final ball,” Pontius said. “It’s all about once we cross it or take a player one-on-one, our decision making in the final third [is lacking]. We do well to get in positions like that, but we have to be a lot better. That is the difference between this year and last year. Last year we were getting players in the box and making real runs. We were fit boys who were hard to handle and we just haven’t been that this year.”
The statistics confirm as much. United have scored eight goals this season in 18 matches and haven’t scored from open play in 654 minutes. In fact, only two of the team’s eight goals this year have come during the run of play as D.C. remain winless on the road (0-6-2).
“It’s a loss though,” Pontius said. “No goals for us, it has to get better. It’s not a fun situation. I can't stand losing. I hate it.”