New faces lead to communication issues for DC United backline in Crew loss

WASHINGTON – Saturday evening’s match against the Columbus Crew was never going to be an easy one for D.C. United’s backline.

Completely reformed after a dismal 2013 campaign, D.C.’s defensive corps – outside backs Sean Franklin and Cristian "Christian" Fernandez and center backs Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell – has had precious little time to jell. During stretches of United’s 3-0 loss on Saturday evening, it showed.

"Defensively, we struggled to deal with how many numbers they threw at us,” D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen told after the match. “I thought they did a very good job of offsetting us, and we didn’t handle things so well [defensively], in particular in the first half.”

Columbus’s first goal – a lovely one-touch exchange between Hector Jimenez, Josh Williams and finally Jairo Arrieta – was largely due to a communication breakdown between midfielder Nick DeLeon and newcomer Christian. It was an error that both players touched on after the match.

“There was definitely a communication issue,” Deleon reflected. "It was just a miscommunication between Christian and I – they had a good one two and they capitalized it. It’ll come along, though. It’s just all of us getting on the same page.”

"We knew this was going to be a work in progress,” added Boswell. "I think our communication could’ve been better – it’s probably the first loud game we’ve played in together. For me, the killer was the first goal, honestly. We have to use this as a learning tool to figure out what we did wrong and correct those errors, and figure out what we did well and do more of those things."

United’s defenders certainly weren’t the only ones out of sync on Saturday night. The club struggled to find their rhythm offensively as well, with many balls played a step too long or too short, and with so many new pieces, much of that was to be expected.

Still, many of the players in a quiet D.C. locker room after the match found the result tough to stomach.

“We definitely shouldn’t lose 3-0," Franklin said. "It is what it is, though. We have to stay positive, we have good group of guys and we have the talent. It might just take a bit for us to all get together on the same page.

"We’re still trying to get used to each other. At the end of the day, we all know one language: football. We all know how to play it. It’s just going to be a matter of putting all of those pieces together."