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Columbus Crew 3, D.C. United 0

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Before we get to the match, let’s place a warm spotlight on what occurred just before the match. Bravo, D.C. United supporters, bravo:

In case you missed the news last month, longtime United midfielder Clyde Simms, who played the past two years in New England, announced he was retiring because of a serious kidney ailment.

Simms’s response to the banner:

Simms has been named a celebrity ambassador for the Greater Baltimore Kidney Walk on May 4 at Camden Yards. “Participating in Kidney Walk is a great opportunity to raise public awareness about kidney disease, something that affects so many of us and so many of our loved ones,” Simms said.

As for the match, United unwrapped a new starting lineup but suffered an old, familiar outcome. My match report with quotes is available for inspection.

Nick DeLeon had been fighting a fever late in the week and was not at full strength. “Still not an excuse for what happened out there,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be a work in progress,” captain Bobby Boswell said. “We obviously didn’t want to start that way, though. … We’ve got to use this as a learning tool. This isn’t going to break us. Just like if we had won today, it wouldn’t have meant we were the best team in MLS. We lost:  It doesn’t mean we are the worst team.”

Well, no. DCU was not the only club to suffer a one-sided defeat: Supporters’ Shield winner New York lost at Vancouver, 4-1, and New England stumbled at Houston, 4-0. But United is clearly going to need time to build chemistry. Ben Olsen had warned against raising expectations early in the season, and this was an example why. United has many capable parts, but it might be a while before it’s a capable team.

Next: March 22 at Toronto FC, the BMO Field debut for Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and Julio Cesar.

United is off next weekend. Club officials have been exploring the possibility of arranging a friendly but might opt for two standard weeks of practice instead. Chris Pontius (hamstring) might be back for the Toronto trip.

In Richmond, five DCU players started for the third-division Kickers in a 2-1 preseason victory over Virginia Commonwealth University. Collin Martin assisted on the winning goal in the 89th minute after Michael Seaton set up the equalizer 13 minutes earlier. Conor Shanosky left in the first half with an injury. Joe Willis and Christiano Francois were also in the lineup.

DCU-Crew video: