If their 3-0 rout of Sporting Kansas City last Saturday evening was viewed by many MLS pundits as a statement match, D.C. United’s 4-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday evening will likely be seen as a a come down from those dizzying heights.
The Galaxy – winners of their last three and rapidly approaching Seattle atop the Western Conference – pulled a page from United’s playbook against SKC, scoring three times in the first half before adding another on a late PK.
D.C., on the other hand, looked disjointed through midfield and didn’t register a single shot over the game’s first half-hour, ending the match with only three.
“They were good tonight,” said United captain Bobby Boswell. “And we weren’t. Obviously, we’re upset, but we have to get ready for a big rivalry game on Sunday [against New York.] I could make excuses and blame this on travel, but we prepared properly, [the coaches and staff] put us in a good position to get a result. We just have to get back to work."
Playing the sixth game out of a seven-match month of August, United opted to rotate their squad, with the likes of Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud and Fabian Espindola rested on the bench, and everyday starter Chris Rolfe missing out entirely because of a small knock picked up in that win over SKC.
Still, United head coach Ben Olsen wasn’t making any excuses for the performance after the match.
"I think we had too many guys that had a poor night and I had a poor night,” said Olsen. "If you add that up against LA, and you’re down 1-0 in the first couple of minutes, you’re in for a long night.
"I don’t care who we put on the field, they’re not [4-1] better than us, and there were some poor performances on our part."
United’s slightly scaled-down starting XI was a necessary evil: the club is dealing with a rash of injuries that has greatly tested the team’s depth, thrusting second and even third-string players into the picture. Securing a win or even nicking a single point was always going to be a tough task for DC, who haven’t won a match at the StubHub Center since 2005 – and weary legs didn’t make things any easier.
Put simply, if United were to get a result in LA, they’d need to get the absolute maximum out of the lineup they fielded, and that simply didn’t happen.
"It’s simple,” concluded Olsen. "If we don’t play up to speed, and aren’t all on the same page and squeezing every ounce of talent out that we have out of our team, we’re not good enough, that’s who we are. We get reminders every now and then. So tonight was a reminder - and that’s on me, too."