D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen violently swung his arms after his team wasn’t awarded a call near midfield early in the second half of Saturday night’s match against Seattle, and he nearly came out of his slim navy blue suit while screaming at a sideline official.
Olsen has long spoken about his team taking the next step — that it will take results against teams like Seattle to do so — and the desperation to elevate set in for Olsen and his team Saturday night at RFK Stadium. The Sounders are the Western Conference’s best team, but D.C. United had a golden opportunity to pick up three points against a team playing with two of its stars in Brazil, another serving a suspension and the rest coming off a midweek game in California.
But that seemed to fuel Seattle on Saturday night, and it only mounted pressure on the home team as the match wore on.
D.C. United had more possession, shots on goal and higher passing accuracy — yet it didn’t clear one ball out of its zone late in the first half, and it was the difference. Seattle’s Chad Barrett headed in a cross moments later to set up the 1-0 win, on a night when D.C. United watched all 14 of its shots on goal come up empty.
“Don’t overthink it,” Olsen said. “The final ball wasn’t there.”
This loss by D.C. United (7-5-4, 25 points) before 17,000 likely will linger for a few days. The opportunities in the second half were even better than the first — including a pair of equalizing opportunities in the 65th and 67th minutes from Luis Silva and Chris Korb that were squandered.
Forward Eddie Johnson, who Olsen said had the best game of his season, nearly scored in the 88th minute when his kick pelted Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the face inside the box. Johnson put his hands on his head in disbelief.
“Eddie just wants to be involved. So he’s just trying to get involved, find the ball when he can,” said United midfielder Chris Rolfe. “I thought we had a lot of good ideas tonight. I think our final touch in and around the box just wasn’t good.”
Olsen was animated at times, and at other times he just watched calmly with his hands in his pockets, left to ponder how his team was going to breakthrough.
And he had to answer questions about how the team will produce offense with forward Fabian Espindola, a front-running MLS MVP candidate the first half of the season, out for the next month with a knee injury.
“Would I like Fabi on the field? Yes I’d like Fabi on the field. But I like our group, we can score goals without Fabi,” Olsen said. “Have we relied maybe too heavily on him? Yes, absolutely. But we’ll be okay. We’ll score goals.”
D.C. United was crisp in its ball movement and controlled 65.9 percent of the possession, with nine of its 14 shots on goal coming in the second half — and allowed just five Seattle shots on goal.
“Sometimes that’s all you need,” Olsen said, referring to Barrett’s header in the 39th minute.
The goal was set up after D.C. United had gained possession after a frantic cross — goalkeeper Bill Hamid had to grab the posts to avoid smashing his face on the iron — but the ball wasn’t cleared. That set up another cross, and Barrett froze Hamid after getting airborne in a scrum.
“Unfortunately they scored the first goal,” D.C. United captain Bobby Boswell said. “It was one of those nights where it wouldn’t go in.”
●UNION 3, REVOLUTION 1: In Foxborough, Mass., Sebastien Le Toux scored two goals to lead Philadelphia over New England.
The Columbus Crew’s game against FC Dallas was postponed, with the Columbus Dispatch reporting that a male fan was struck by lightning in the stadium parking lot.
Columbus Fire Department Lt. Thad Turano told the Associated Press that emergency officials transported a victim in cardiac arrest to Ohio State Medical Center. He says that a caller reported at 8 p.m. that a person had been struck by lightning.