If you can’t beat one-win Toronto FC, if you can’t manage an early lead, if you can’t defend set pieces and you continue to record own goals, if you can’t build momentum after winning three days earlier, if you can’t reward the indomitable supporters who still turn up on East Capitol Street despite the misery, the question must be asked:
Will D.C. United win another league match this season?
The winless streak has reached 13 games, dating back to March 9, and there is no proof this group, as it is currently assembled, is capable of mustering 90 good minutes to earn three points again. Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup performance was an aberration — one evening of hope, and then back to the old ways.
With the competitive portion of the regular season over — it’s not even July yet! — the Open Cup will serve as the last salvation.
United, an MLS Eastern Conference finalist last fall, has taken six of a possible 45 points in league play and four of 24 at RFK Stadium, where, in 2012, the club lost just once.
One witness told me that, after watching United concede two goals off set pieces, Ben Olsen “lost it” in the locker room at halftime and was even worse after the game. Olsen kept the group together through the sour spring, but as the losing has entered into summer, a sense of hopelessness has descended upon the club.
His mood didn’t improve much in the media session.
I asked him to share his thoughts about set pieces.
“Seriously?” he said, glaring. “I got some thoughts about them but I don’t want to talk about them right now.”
Olsen also vented about the officiating.
“It’s a roll of the dice every game. It sounds like sour grapes, right? Yeah, we’re in last place, here’s a coach yelling about the referees. But man, I am not the only one who sees it. I don’t want to make this about the referees. We’re not in this situation because of the referees.”
Nick DeLeon had a few nice moments and Alain Rochat will prove to be a good addition. The early goal ran counter to seasonal trends, but the lead quickly melted away. And although United was within a goal throughout the second half, scoring opportunities were fleeting. Dwayne De Rosario ran out of gas in the second half after a masterful performance Wednesday, and United was non-threatening down the stretch.
Here’s my match report from another disappointing night.
Next: San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night in Washington.
The Washington Spirit also lost tonight, 2-0, to the Western New York Flash and fell to 1-5-3. So the area’s two first-tier clubs are now a combined 2-16-6.