Soccer Outsider: United-Crew match diary

So, this happened. (Steve Goff/The Washington Post)

So, this happened. (Steve Goff/The Washington Post)

The scoreboard began this game the opposite of how United have begun this season: on fire. Which got me thinking: What kind of fire insurance does Events DC have on RFK? I’m just saying: scoreboard fires, they’re everywhere nowadays, and they can strike at any time. Be a real shame if something like that happened to RFK. Yep, a real shame.

socceroutsiderThe late start meant that my DVR only got the first half of this game. Will that be a blessing in disguise? (Returning to this paragraph having watched the first half, the answer is obviously “Yes. Big time.”)

Chris Pontius is out with a “muscle strain”, which is the less-funny way of saying “pulled groin” (can we say “yanked groin”? That’s even funnier). So your lineup is: Hamid | Woolard, Jakovic, McDonald, Korb | Sanchez, Kitchen, Porter, Augusto | De Rosario, Pajoy. I know there have been injuries, but that midfield does not say “deep playoff run” to me.

Here’s kickoff from Columbus Crew Stadium, where the crowd is not being whipped into a frenzy by “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Eye of the Tiger.” They need to get those scoreboard speakers fixed in a hurry.

1’ - If the fire had happened at a Chicago Fire match, every supporters’ chant would feel insensitive. “Let’s go Fire…the team, not the rapid oxidization of material. The latter can be dangerous – we were referring to the former.” Not a good chant.

6’ - McDonald and Woolard get their lines crossed, but McDonald recovers with a saving tackle. United are trying to establish possession — do they have the personnel to do that?

14’ - Goal Columbus! Shades of the Philadelphia match – United’s defense sleepwalks its way to conceding an early goal. The sequence started with McDonald misplaying a long ball. That’s why you never let the ball bounce, kids.

19’ - Ben and Robert Warzycha (“Warzycha” is pronounced…well, it’s not pronounced by anyone west of the Oder River) are in a shouting match. It’s about the injured Agustin Viana, who is wasting time while his replacement warms up. This would be less of a problem if soccer players would just wear their uniforms on the bench; soccer is the only sport where players scramble to put on their gear after being called into the game. In basketball they have special stripper-inspired pants that solve this problem.

21’ - Very nice dribbling sequence from Augusto, but it happened in the center circle. If he gets his pocket picked that dribbling turns into a three-on-three the other way.

22’ - Kitchen scores but he’s called for a foul! We are robbed of a goal and also of the “Perry Kitchen scoring streak,” which should be a thing right now.

24’ - Goal Columbus! 2-0! Just when you thought this season couldn’t resemble 2010 any more, we lose a goal at one end and immediately concede at the other. McDonald lost his man — pretty awful game for him so far.

28’ - Porter plays a nice through ball to Pajoy but Columbus snuffs it out. United is generating some offense. It’s mostly coming down the right side; Porter and Korb are doing very good work.

31’ - Pajoy and DeRo combine to create a breakaway, and Porter almost beats Gruenebaum at the near post! United are showing signs of life; they don’t deserve to be down 2-0.

33’ - In something I’ve never seen before, Porter’s attempted clearance ricochets 20 yards off the referee and goes out for a corner. If our luck continues, Columbus will score, injure Bill Hamid, and strike a deal to acquire Buzzard Point on the ensuing corner.

45’ - Penalty Columbus! It’s hard to argue with the call.

45’ + 1’ - Off-brand Higuain steps up to take the penalty…and smashes it into the roof of the net. Unstoppable. As our downward slide seems to be.

At this point my DVR stopped, but I had seen enough anyway. I watched the second half highlights and saw two attempts from DeRo (one off a nice feed from Pajoy), Pajoy waste a chance set up by Porter, Sanchez shank a chance created by DeRo and Pajoy, and Pajoy send a free kick off the bar. So it looks like we were on the front foot, though none of those front feet could score a goal. The season is slipping away. But with the first signing deadline coming, I want to get this on record: I would rather the team stand pat than make a desperation move.

First-half player ratings:
Hamid: 4.5. He might have been able to keep the second goal out. He had no chance on the other two.
Woolard: 4.5. Oduro beat him to the spot on the first goal, but other than that he was solid.
Jakovic: 5. Jakovic and the backline passed with a bit more purpose today.
McDonald: 2. We all have days like this, they’re just not televised. McDonald is 27; he’s not at the age where I worry that the wheels might be falling off. I see no reason for a sudden drop in form. It’s just a bad game — put him back out there next week and he’ll right himself.
Korb: 6.5. The Korb-Porter partnership ended up being surprisingly potent. He should have had an assist on Kitchen’s non-goal.
Sanchez: 3. The “Sanchez or Porter?” question has been decided. Porter.
Kitchen: 5. When you’re playing behind Augusto, you need to mostly stay home, because Augusto has more giveaways than Trader Joe’s.
Porter: 8. Seriously: he was that good. He was our best player. For all I know he tanked in the second half, but his first half was great.
Augusto: 4.5. Neither Raph(f)ael is nickname-worthy yet.
De Rosario: 6. DeRo’s return has brought our offense back from the dead.
Pajoy: 5.5. He was good! Really, he was kind of good. Seriously, honestly: he was good. I do not have a reputation as a Pajoy-booster or even as a nice guy; if I say he was good then he must have been good.

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