The more things change this season for D.C. United, the more they stay the same. Marc Burch and Branko Boskovic made their first starts for United this season but it didn’t help quell the inevitable annual humbling at the hands of Real Salt Lake as the Black-and-Red suffered more humiliation in their 3-0 defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium tonight. Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley and Nelson Gonzalez each scored for the home side as the easily swept away the once-proud and flagship team of MLS.
My how times have changed. United has now gone win less in five MLS matches since their 3-2 road win over Seattle on June 10th. The season for United has gotten to a point that no matter what lineup is thrown out there by coach Curt Onalfo, the mere pretense of winning seems a far fetched idea. One would be more surprised that United can actually score a goal, much less try and get themselves off the bottom of the MLS standings. With the season rapidly sinking before their eyes, United had actual hopes of turning around their moribund 2010 league existence with the addition of Boskovic and Pablo Hernandez. Both players showed promise in matches leading up tonight’s affair but the bottom line is winning in MLS. Although United has a sterling 7-0-0 record outside of MLS play this season in all competitions, it’s actually league play that really matters the most and United once again fell victim to poor finishing but more often it was poor defense on this evening.
Real Salt Lake got the scoring started in the 13th minute as Alvaro Saborio got past a poor United offside trap and sent the ball underneath Troy Perkins for the 1-0 lead. Looking at the replay it baffles the mind whey Clyde Simms decided to stop tracking Saborio and instead tried a risky offside trap deep into United’s penalty area. If that wasn’t harmful enough, the “save” attempt by Perkins certainly was as he allowed it to roll underneath him, an easily save-able shot.
United actually stood mostly toe-to-toe with the MLS Cup champions for the remainder of the half as the score stayed at 1-0. After the break it was the visitors pushing the tempo but with a season long issue of actually scoring goals, the longer this match went on the longer it seemed United were bound to give up another before scoring themselves. That turned out to be true in the 79th minute when United was burned on a counter attack that was fed by a poor decision from United’s newcomer Boskovic. The Montenegran midfielder had Santino Quaranta wide open on the left flank with no one within 20 yards of him when his attempted through pass was cut out by two RSL defenders. The ball immediately came back into United’s half of the field where it eventually found the foot of Robbie Findley who had been terrorizing United’s back line all night long with his speed. This time Findley beat Perkins to his right (another save-able shot) for the dagger that finished off United and a 2-0 lead.
However the misery was not yet completed. Not satisfied with poor positioning and generally bad defending all night long, United allowed substitute Nelson Gonzalez to slalom through the midfield and connect on a give-and-go with Andy Williams and a final toasting of Carey Talley resulted in a beautiful chip over the way off his line Perkins to complete the misery for United in their 3-0 loss.
Up next for United is a visit to Gillette Stadium next weekend to play the New England Revolution. It’s safe to say that if United can manage a win or a draw, their season will be over, if it’s not already.
– Clyde Simms subbed out of the match with a calf injury in the 44th minute. Stephen King took his place
– United tied a team record with their 12th shutout loss of the season. They matched the futility of the 2001 Thomas Rongen lead squad. United is now only 3 shutouts away from tying the league record of 15 shutouts set by the expansion Toronto FC in 2007
– Hide the children. United is now 1-5-0 all-time at Real Salt Lake. United won the initial match (3-1) in the expansion 2005 season for RSL but since then have lost 5 straight matches by a combined score of 13-3