Columbus Crew 3, D.C. United 0

Where to begin? With the scoreboard blaze, of course. Crew officials said they did not know the cause of the fire in the speaker cabinet. (Too much bad pregame music? Retribution for the PA announcer years ago referring to D.C. as “The” United, a tendency that enraged then-club president Kevin Payne?) The fire marshal will conduct an inspection Monday.

Great quote in this Columbus Dispatch news story from a visiting United supporter:

“No big deal. Even when your scoreboard catches fire, you still have a better stadium than ours.”

Hey now, RFK might have had a raccoon problem, falling concrete and power outages but never a scoreboard fire. (Okay, United did once employ the custodian of hellfire, “El Diablo.”)

As one of my editors dryly pointed out during the delay, goal-starved United has no use for a scoreboard anyway.

Especially on the road. The last time the club scored more than once away from RFK was last June 24 at New York, a 3-2 defeat. That’s a span of 15 matches, including playoffs: 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0.

United did create plenty of opportunity in Columbus: Perry Kitchen‘s equalizer was wrongly annulled, Kyle Porter hit the post, Marcos Sanchez missed terribly in the box, Lionard Pajoy failed to finish Porter’s long ball and later hit the crossbar with a free kick, and Dwayne De Rosario‘s stab was kick-saved away.

United outshot the Crew 21-7 and had six shots on target; DCU entered the match averaging nine shots overall and three on goal. Columbus had just three on frame — all went in. Bill Hamid did not make a save but didn’t receive any help either.

“I know [Hamid] is pushing and working really hard,” said center back Brandon McDonald, who accepted blame for all three goals. “This is the most focused I’ve seen him since I’ve been with this club [for his efforts] to get on that national team. Something like that tonight is not doing him any justice and it’s not his fault.”

McDonald said he raged (apparently about himself) in the locker room at halftime. He didn’t elaborate. Ben Olsen declined to talk about it.

“I’ve never seen that,” fellow center back Dejan Jakovic said of the eruption. “I don’t think he can blame himself. It’s a team game and we’re all in it together. He’s wrong for that, but he has to keep his head up. He’s one of the leaders of this team and I feel like he has done a great job this year. Mistakes happen, and we’ve just got to stay together.”

De Rosario, the captain, declined a postgame interview request.

“The guys are frustrated, the staff is frustrated, but I’ve been through this before,” Olsen said. “We will get out of it. We will get out of it at some point, and hopefully it’s soon.”

Said Kitchen: “It only takes one to get this turned around. We just have to stay focused and stay positive.”

That is getting more difficult. At 1-6-1, United is off to the second-worst start in the club’s 18 seasons, nearly as bad as the six-win 2010 campaign, when seven of the first eight games ended in defeat.

The club is idle until May 8, when it will begin a stretch of four games in 18 days against opponents with a current combined record of 17-7-10.

The next match falls on a Wednesday night (home against Houston). Combine a bad record and low entertainment quality with the fact United doesn’t draw on mid-week dates — this is the only one of the season — the attendance outlook promises to bring further embarrassment. (Is Maryland SoccerPlex available?)

By the time the Houston match rolls around, United might have a new player, although no moves were imminent as of early this past week. MLS’s spring transfer window closes a week from Monday (end of business on May 6), and although there are not many candidates this time of year — the summer marketplace is the one ripe with options — United is reaching a point where any fresh blood would help. Or at least help shake things up. United has also been exploring trade possibilities, but being so early in the season, most teams are holding firm.

Video package:

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff | April 27, 2013