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United, Quaranta Part Ways

Santino Quaranta. Photo: Martin FernandezSantino Quaranta. Photo: Martin Fernandez

DC United did not exercise the option on Santino Quaranta’s contract, leaving the long time DC United player out in the cold. Quaranta, who began his MLS career with DC United when he was only 16 years old will now have to decide weather to call it quits or seek employment in another MLS franchise.

The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported that Quaranta received word via phone from Ben Olsen.

Santino will gauge interest from other MLS franchises during the upcoming two-stage re-entry drafts, but that he will have to think “long and hard” about playing elswhere because of his deep Washington-Baltimore roots.

“This place means a lot to me.” Santino told Steven, “I’m going to miss all of the supporters, all of the people. It’s hard, but that’s business. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I figured all along we’d get it done, regardless of whether they picked up the option. It’s disappointing… It hurts…”

United wins Carolina Challenge Cup with 2-2 draw with Toronto FC

Charlie Davies is congratulated by teammates Chris Pontius (13), Joseph Ngwenya (11), and Dax Macarthy(10) after scoring against TFC in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Photo Tony Quinn

United were out on the front foot early and should have led 1-0 in the third minute. Chris Pontius picked up a loose ball and sent Charlie Davies in on goal. Davies rounded goalkeeper Stephan Frei easily but retreating defender Nana Atta-Kora forced Davies into a rushed attempt at the open goal and it dribbled wide left of the goal. Davies didn’t have to wait long for redemption as he put United up 1-0 in the 12th minute. Pontius again got hold of a loose ball and sent Davies into the box on the right side. His 15-yard blast shot over the hand of Frei and just under the bar.

United continued their dominance but was falling prey to a number of counter attacks that was catching the United back line playing a bit too high. In the 19th minute they paid for their aggression as Dwayne DeRosario easily got behind defender Daniel Woolard and centered a ball that was initially bumbled by Toronto midfielder Gianluca Zavarise. As he was about to compose himself for a straight look on goal, United midfielder Dax McCarty clattered into the trialist and the referee correctly awarded TFC a penalty kick. Dwayne DeRosario easily beat Pat Onstad to level the match at 1-1.

Toronto was not done by any stretch and in the 28th minute a rookie mistake by defender Perry Kitchen gifted TFC the lead. Goalkeeper Stephan Frei sent a booming kick over the United back line, again playing too high, that Kitchen was in good position to clear. However, he hesitated in his clearance and allowed the veteran Brazilian striker Maicon Santos to muscle the rookie off the ball and clumsily slot the ball into the side netting.

United, trailing for the first time in the entire preseason, became a bit unraveled and their usual clean passing and switching of the ball became poor touches and rushed balls over the top. However, late in the first half  Toronto gave United a lifeline when trialist defender Mikael Yourassowsky picked up back-t0-back yellow cards and was sent off. Andy Najar easily beat the defender and was grabbed around the waist for the first yellow and two minutes later Chris Pontius pulled off the same move resulting in the same punishment and United was up a man for the remainder of the match.

Unlike Wednesday nights match against the Chicago Fire when United was one-man up in the first match also, United took advantage of the situation and created a number of opportunities to tie the match. Kurt Morsink’s 30-yard bomb was tipped over the bar by Frei in the 52nd minute and Joseph Ngwenya’s 8-yard header scorched just over the bar just a minute later. In the 62nd minute, United would finally cash in on their pressure with a well-worked goal against Toronto’s bunker defense. Branko Boskovic sent a diagonal ball from the left flank over the defense hitting Santino Quaranta in stride. The Baltimore native easily chested the ball down and got behind the defense. With Frei coming out to challenge Quaranta, a simple square pass to a wide-open Ngwenya was deposited in the net to draw the match level at 2-2. With the draw in hand, United played out the rest of the match with little threat from Toronto and claimed their second consecutive Carolina Challenge Cup.

Carolina Challenge Cup Wionners. Photo: Tony Quinn.

D.C. United players celebarte their second consecutive Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Tony Quinn.

United Notes

  • United’s starting X1 for this match seems to be an indicator of what coach Ben Olsen’s lineup might look like next weekend against Columbus – Onstad, Woolard, Kitchen, Jakovic, Zayner, McCarty (C), Boskovic, Pontius, Najar, Ngwenya and Charlie Davies
  • United made 8 changes at the start of the second half bringing on Quaranta, Brettschneider, Morsink, King, Korb, White, Bresesco and Burch. Barklage and Shanosky made late appearances with only Onstad playing the whole 90 minutes

United and Chicago bore their way to a 0-0 draw

Fittingly, D.C. United and the Chicago Fire played to a 0-0 draw this afternoon at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. Both teams are long out of the playoff picture and are arguably the two biggest disappointments in MLS this season. United of course is going to finish the season with the worst season in club history and will set numerous MLS marks for offensive futility as they suffered their 17th shutout in 29 league matches.

With both teams having little to play for, it was a nice sending off though for Chicago Fire forward and American soccer legend Brian McBride who was playing his last professional match at home. McBride actually put the ball in the net on two occasions in this truly dour affair, but both times the offside flag was correctly raised. Other than that, it was only a handful of chances late in the match that put any spark into this match. Santino Quaranta had a chance in the 86th minute to win the match only to see Chicago goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra come off his line and thwart the goal bound attempt from Quaranta.

Minutes later McBride was subbed off to a heroes welcome as the 19,056 fans in attendance all saluted the Fire captain as he walked off the Toyota Park field for the last time. Not only did his fellow players congratulate him, but the officials as well as a big hug from United coach Ben Olsen welcomed him as he left the field. Seconds later though, McBride’s substitute Calen Carr almost stole the three points. Carr broke in alone after a misplay from Dejan Jakovic and Perkins did well to dive to his right to save the shot. The rebound fell right to the feet of Freddie Ljunberg who one-timed his shot towards the empty net only to see Clyde Simms’ sliding block keep the scoreline at a deserved 0-0.

United will now finally close this dark chapter of a season next weekend when they host Toronto FC at 7:30pm at RFK Stadium. This time it will be United’s turn to salute a legend of soccer in America as Jaime Moreno will be honored in his last MLS match for the Black-and-Red. As this match will not be on local television, United is asking everyone to make an effort to get to RFK next weekend to say goodbye to United’s greatest all-time player.

United losing streak reaches 5 games with 3-1 home loss to FC Dallas

DC United's Julius James (right) marks Dallas' Brek Shea. Photo: Matt Mathai.

Two teams going in opposite directions met at RFK Stadium last night. Both teams stayed the course after 90 minutes with visiting FC Dallas claiming a 3-1 victory over D.C. United. FC Dallas improved their unbeaten run to a team-record 10 matches while United sank to it’s fifth consecutive loss and eighth straight match without a win to continue their season of misery. David Ferreira and Eric Alexander both chipped in a goal and an assist to push the red-hot visitors to the easy win.

United came out and played this match pretty much like most of their matches at RFK this season by dominating possession and tempo with the visitors rarely venturing into United territory. For the first half hour only a 25th minute shot from Alexander got through to United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Then the match changed in a two-minute sequence that typified United’s struggles all season long. Danny Allsopp was sent in alone on FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman in the 32nd minute and his bid was deflected wide of the goal. You could see the anguish on the faces of all United players when the golden opportunity to take the lead was lost. Just two minutes later the visitors struck with deadly precision. Eric Alexander picked off a wayward clearance from United defender Julius James and sent a splitting pass between James and Devon McTavish. Brek Shea, FC Dallas’ 20-year old winger easily got behind McTavish and beat the onrushing Hamid to the ball. Shea sent the ball across the face of goal to a wide open Ferreira who took one touch to settle and then slipped the ball into the empty net for the 1-0 lead against the run of play.

United managed to make it back to the locker room only down 1-0 but that quickly changed just 4 minutes into the second half. Shea and United defender Cary Talley both went up for a ball just outside of United’s penalty area. Talley got the worst of the collision as Shea clearly fouled him with no intention of playing the ball. Referee Abi Okulaja ignored the clear foul and FC Dallas retained possession. With Talley still down, the visitors pressed the play and the ball ended up on the foot of Alexander at the top of the 18 yard box and his shot was rasped into the side netting for a 2-0 lead. United players surrounded Okulaja to complain about the non-call to no avail. This game for all intent and purpose was over.

United did manage to halve the deficit in the 80th minute when Santino Quaranta’s angled pass over the defense was poked home by FC Dallas defender Jair Benitez. If Benitez hadn’t gotten to the ball, 17-year old Andy Najar was waiting to poke the ball home. United continued to press on for the equalizer but were done in by a bit of folly from substitute defender Dejan Jakovic. In stoppage time, Jakovic, not for the first time in his United career, was very casual getting to a long clearance and appeared to have position on the pressuring Jeff Cunningham. The Canadian defender attempted to side-foot the ball back to Hamid but ended up scuffing the attempt and the speedy striker pounced on the loose ball and easily side-stepped Hamid to put the ball into the empty net and end the match for the visitors and in essence end the season for the Black-and-Red.

United thrash Portsmouth FC 4-0 behind Allsopp hat trick

In many respects tonight’s match between MLS cellar dwellers D.C. United and financially strapped Portsmouth FC shouldn’t have been played. Portsmouth, relegated to the English Championship in part because their team went into financial administration at the end of their Premier League season this past Spring, has endured a nightmarish week of games and travel across the United States and Canada. Bringing only a handful of players, it wasn’t expected to be a match to miss on the tail end of their journey. Flight delays, long travel and logistical nightmares have marred the trip for the 2008 FA Cup winners. How long ago that must seem as their team were soundly thrashed 4-0 by D.C. United,  MLS’ worst team.

Honestly it really wasn’t a surprise to anyone that Pompey had nothing to offer a United team looking to regain any kind of spark to reignite their MLS campaign. Danny Allsopp may have made a case for more playing time as he scored three goals to lead United to a comfortable win. Heading into the match the temperature outside was a huge factor as it hit over 100 degrees during the day. What we didn’t know was that the temperature on the field at times was even hotter and the match boiled over in the second half. Three red cards were handed out in the match with Santino Quaranta and Julius James getting their marching orders in the second half. Haydon Mullins was ejected along with Quaranta as the players traded spits at each other in full view of game official Jorge Gonzalez. Julius James saw his red card late in the match for shoving a Pompey player down to the ground.

The fireworks on the field started midway through the first half with a number of hard tackles that mostly found the skilled left-foot of United newbie Pablo Hernandez. At halftime United head coach Curt Onalfo and some of his staff  had to be separated by the fourth official and MLS officials as they openly questioning the Pompey coaching staff about their cynical tactics. This was a friendly after all.

Meanwhile to the actual match itself it was the home side who despite a slow and methodical start, got on the board first in the 21st minute. United won a free kick on the right side of midfield and Hernandez swung in a beautiful ball right to the temple of Allsopp who scored easily past Pompey goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown for a 1-0 lead. United doubled their lead with a bit good fortune in the 31st minute. United worked the ball down the left flank and Santino Quaranta’s pass met the foot of Allsopp at the top of the box. The Australian strikers first touch was poor and he won the ball off the sliding tackle of a Portsmouth defender and then deftly flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot into the side netting for a 2-0 lead that held until halftime.

DC United's Boyzz Kuhmalo controls the ball during his team's friendly match vs Portsmouth. Phto Tony QUinn.

DC United's Boyzz Kuhmalo controls the ball during his team's friendly match vs Portsmouth. Phto Tony QUinn.

After the break United made a few changes to the lineup, one of which was to bring on Junior Carreiro, the 18-year old brother of former United midfielder Fred. Junior immediately gave life to United’s attack with a number of slick moves to break free of defenders and his quick moves easily unbalanced the Pompey defense. His skill was a big part of United’s most fluent and best goal sequence of the season in the 56th minute. Pablo Hernandez dropped deep into midfield to win a ball and made a fantastic spin move in between two Pompey defenders and broke free. He sent a pass down the left flank where Jordan Graye whisked past his defender. Graye’s cutback move into the box saw Junior open at the top of the penalty area. Graye’s pass was one-touched by Junior between two Pompey defenders to a wide open Branko Boskovic on the right heading towards goal. With goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown coming out to challenge Boskovic, the Montenegran calmly squared his pass across the goalmouth to Hernandez who simply tapped into the empty net for a 3-0 United lead. With United’s scoring woes so far this season in MLS, it was nice to see an exchange between three players who weren’t even on this team three weeks ago.

United finalized the route in the 65th minute with another sublime goal from Allsopp. Junior again was a key component as his perfectly weighted pass between the last two Pompey defenders sent Allsopp through alone on goal. Allsopp waited for Ashdown to commit and he calmly slotted the ball into the goal to give United it’s most decisive win of the season. United kept the beleaguered visitors from England off the score sheet with having to make only two saves all night long. Troy Perkins started the first half for United and Bill Hamid finished the match and made probably his best save of his young career to keep the game a shutout. Pompey were awarded a free kick after the ejection of United defender Julius James in the 90th minute. Pompey defender Matthew Richie saw his goal bound kick swerve around the United wall only to see the acrobatic 19-year old keeper at full stretch parry the ball to safety.

That was the last play as the Black-and-Red now turn their attention back to league play when they go visit MLS Cup Champion Real Salt Lake next Saturday evening. Let’s hope United’s new found confidence can start to translate to much needed MLS wins.

United sails past Harrisburg and into US Open Cup semi-finals thanks to 2-0 win

Boyzz Kuhmalo

Boyzz Kuhmalo sends a cross that would curl into the back of the net for D.C. United's second goal against the Harrisburg Islanders. Photo: Tony Quinn.

In a season that has gone horribly wrong, at least D.C. United can count on one bright spot. Their performance to date in the U.S. Open Cup tournament. Tonight the Black-and-Red cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over the visiting Harrisburg City Islanders behind goals from newcomer Branko Boskovic and Boyzzz Khumalo.

United got things started immediately when Devon McTavish curled a pass over City Islander defender Anthony Calvano and into the path of Santino Quaranta. Quaranta pushed past defender Jerritt Thayer and got to the end line when he sent a ball diagonally to the penalty spot where Boskovic calmly slotted past City Islander goalkeeper Danny Cepero for a 1-0 lead after just 41 seconds. United continued to pile the pressure on the visitors and almost doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Boskovic’ free kick sailed inches over the bar. Harrisburg’s only plausible attempt at goal was in the 26th minute when Kai Kasiguran volleyed a rocket just over the bar after United had trouble clearing a corner kick.

United came out after halftime just like they did in the first half and doubled their lead in the 47th minute. However, this goal was one for the record books as United goalkeeper Bill Hamid sent a long clearing kick over the Harrisburg defense and sent Boyzzz Khumalo free down the right wing. With plenty of time and two United players crashing the penalty area, the South African hit what was most definitely a well intentioned cross that somehow took a turn and ended up in the net. The look on Khumalo’s face after the goal (right) told the story as he seemed almost apologetic in scoring the goal. The real laughter however was coming from the stands where his injured and resting teammates Adam Cristman, Chris Pontius, Dejan Jakovic, Juan Manuel Pena, Rodney Wallace and Marc Burch couldn’t contain themselves.

After the second goal from United the match started to take a bit of a dark turn and in the 75th minute Harrisburg were down to 10 men when defender Tyler Ruthven was red carded for a vicious tackle from behind on Khumalo that temporarily set nerves on edge. Credit to both teams however for not taking it further and United enjoyed stroking the ball around to kill off the rest of the match. United did have an opportunity late on to make it 3-0 but McTavish’ left-footed blast off of a nice no-look pass from Jaime Moreno deflected off the crossbar in the 83rd minute.

United will now face the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, September 1st at RFK Stadium at 7:30 pm in the semi-final round of the US Open Cup. Columbus made the final by virtue of their easy 3-0 win over the Charleston Battery two weeks ago. United will face English Championship side Portsmouth this Saturday evening at RFK at 7:30 pm.

United Notes

  • United lost out on the lottery to select US Youth International Sal Zizzo to Chivas USA. Zizzo had been with Hannover 96 of the Bundesliga for three seasons but only made 9 first-team appearances in his stay
  • United will apparently bring in US born winger Jemal Johnson for a trial. Johnson had been playing in the lower English divisions for various teams the past few seasons
  • Adam Cristman was back from his hernia surgery in Germany and in the stands with his two-month old daughter
  • Chris Pontius does not have a broken foot as originally feared after injuring it in the first half against the Galaxy this past Sunday. He will be held out of this weekends match with Portsmouth in hopes of having him fit for their match at Real Salt Lake on July 31st
  • Dejan Jakovic sore hamstring has him out for this weekend and he also is hoping to be ruled fit by next weekend

DC United Kicks Richmond Out of the Open Cup

After a desultory first half, United’s Jaime Moreno livened up the proceedings with a stunning goal through traffic two minutes into the second half. Santino Quaranta began the play with a lovely diagonal ball out of midfield impeccably picking out Boyzzz Khumalo gliding down the right sideline. United’s South African winger cut inside and slipped the ball easily to Jaime Moreno alone at the top of the area.

Seemingly with all the time in the world, the legendary Bolivian scorer slotted an untouchable shot through traffic into the lower corner of the net. The goal was Moreno’s 13th of his open cup career and leaves him as the sole leading scorer in Open Cup history, and more importantly the goal made up for horrendous miss by Moreno on the only real chance of the match just before halftime.

Neither United nor Richmond looked particularly sharp in the opening 45 minutes as United looked to control the ball, but rarely created any opportunities on against a big and resolute central defense for the Kickers. Richmond, on the other hand, struggled with possession and far too often looked for the long ball over the top to Delicate that was usually easily cut out by Jakovic and Rice in central defense for DC.

However, Richmond did mange the first real chance of the match halfway through the first half as Barry Rice wildly took out Delicate near the corner flag giving the Kickers a freekick that was virtually a corner kick. Richmond captain Mike Burke stroked the ball into the box, but it deflected out to Richmond’s Luke Vercollone at the top of the box and he smashed a wicked shot that Hamid had to frantically scramble away.

Yet as halftime loomed, Quaranta, who had come in the 40th minute when Emilio had to come out a bit woozy after being hammered by Richmond’s keeper, aggressively attacked and drew Richmond’s defense only to slot the ball perfectly through to Allsopp in alone down the left hand side of the box. As Pascale came out to challenge, the Aussie slipped the ball across to Moreno 12 yards out staring at an open net, but the most prolific goal scorer in MLS history incredibly shot the ball well over the bar.

In the second half, ten minutes after Moreno gave the United the lead, it was Quaranta again involved in the action as he was to get on the score sheet himself with a somewhat lucky goal that deflected into the net. It was another play set up by Khumalo on the right hand side as Richmond’s Sacha Gorres ill-advisedly attempted to cut out another long diagonal down the right, but missed completely allowing Boyzzz to turn unfettered into the right side of the box, where he looked up and picked out Santino bursting in from the left. Unfortunately, Tino hesitated instead of shooting and the play might have been lost had not the ball fallen to Moreno who calmly poked the ball back to Santino try again and this time his powerful shot took a deflection and looped over Pascale in the Richmond net to complete the scoring.

Facing elimination, Richmond made a game of it over the final 30 minutes, but failed to convert two lovely opportunities. In the 60th minute, Edson Elcock ghosted by Andy Najar playing right back and took an angled shot from the left that screamed past the far post just wide and high. Then in the 66th, Kicker right back David Hertel curled a lovely ball around DC’s defense that sent Delicate barreling in on goal, but with only Hamid to beat he pretty much shot it right United’s rookie keeper and the chance was lost. Despite more pressure, Richmond did really threaten United’s goal for the rest of the match.

With the win, United looks to host the Harrisburg City-Islanders in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row July 21 at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds. That match was previously announced as also being played at George Mason, but perhaps the appalling NOVA traffic, and a brutal first 45 minutes where the entire attendance had to stare into the setting sun changed the right people’s minds into returning to the soccerplex.

United has now reached the quarterfinals of the Open Cup nine of the 12 times they have entered the tournament. They did not enter the 1998 version of the tournament due to international commitments. DC has faced lower division competition in the quarterfinals four times and been victorious every time including last year when they faced Harrisburg as well.

Should United get past Harrisburg, they will face the winner of the Columbus Crew and Charleston Battery match on the other side of their bracket. Should Charleston upset the Crew, DC would not face MLS competition until the final for the second year in a row. All four MLS teams will have made the final eight in the other bracket if defending champion Seattle beats Portland in a match being played right now (tied 1-1 heading to OT as I post this).

United loses third straight 2-0 decision at home and remain bottom of MLS without a point through five matches

Juan Pablo Angel had a goal and an assist to lead visiting Red Bull to a 2-0 win over D.C. United this afternoon at hot and humid RFK Stadium. United continued their horrific start to the 2010 MLS season by setting numerous franchise records for futility in the loss. United have lost their fifth straight match to start the season and third consecutive home match, all by 2-0 scorelines. United has also been shutout in four of their five league matches so far as well as already falling behind by double digits in the goal differential at -11 through 5 matches.

As far as today’s match is concerned, it played out pretty much like all their home matches have so far. They dominate the possession and scoring opportunities in the first half but got to the locker room with the score tied at 0-0. Red Bull striker Salou Ibrahim changed the entire mood of the 12,089 fans in attendance just five minutes into the second half when his second chance toe-poke eluded Troy Perkins and you could feel the air go out of the stadium. United and their fans couldn’t be blamed for their “here we go again” mentality and just like the previous two home matches, Red Bull struck again just 9 minutes later in the 60th minute when United killer Angel out dueled United defender Juan Manuel Pena and sliced a header past a helpless Troy Perkins and the damage was done.

United pressed on to try and get back in the match but second half substitutes Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emilio (just re-signed on Friday) couldn’t gather any momentum and United were left with a few desperate chances at goal from distance that came to nothing and the Black and Red walked off the RFK pitch under a serenade of boos from the home fans. United will now try to pick themselves up and get their first points of the season when they welcome the Kansas City Wizards into town on Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm.

One can only hope a different script can be read other than Groundhog Day

DC United Burned by Fire, Off to Worst Start Ever

An exceedingly tense and sloppy, but relatively uneventful, match was decided in the final 10 minutes when Chicago’s Patrick Nyarko beat Carey Talley to the endline and pulled back a perfect pass to Brian McBride in the area. But, with McTavish all over him, McBride deftly heel flicks it to Pappa alone at the top of the area to thump in the back for net for the winner in the 80th minute.

McBride then completed DC United’s misery in the 89th minute as Chicago goalkeeper Dykstra took a 60 yard FK right to Brian McBride, who beat Talley easily to nod in an incredible header just inside the near post with Perkins miles late to cover. With the second goal and DC without any real offensive pressure the game was essentially over despite the incredibly generous four minutes of stoppage time.

United midfielder Curt Morsink summed up the match, and the season so far, pretty succinctly to afterward to MLSsoccer’s Charlie Boehm. “You can’t ever win an MLS soccer game giving up stupid goals like that. It’s not just one person, it’s the whole team. It’s not just one game, it’s not just one goal, it’s been six or seven goals that absolutely should’ve been avoided at the professional level. And we don’t avoid them, and there’s your result: zero points.”

In a very scattered and sketchy match, DC United simply did not manage to threaten Chicago’s goal with any real venom at all. Outside of freekicks and pedestrian shots, DC barely ruffled the Fire’s defense until the 65th minute when a Quaranta freekick was blocked by Dystra and DC’s Aussie forward Danny Allsopp lashed a wicked volley that was barely blocked.

The Fire, however, did manage to make things interesting, mostly through United miscues. Barely 10 minutes into the match, Fire forward Collins John caught United keeper Troy Perkins off his line and deftly chipped it over him. Only a desperation lounge allowed Perkins to slap away a sure goal. Perkis didn’t redeem himself on the ensuing corner kick either as he missed the centering kick by a mile and it was only stout defending that kept Chicago off the scoresheet early in the match.

Perkins would be involved in another sketchy play later in the half that nearly allowed a Fire goal as he came off his line wildly to flail a wild kick at a bouncing ball, but Nyarko beat him to it and nearly directed it to John for an easy finish if not for some timely defending by Rodney Wallace. Which is appropriate since Wallace misplayed the ball originally forcing Perkins to come out and make that ill-advised chop at the ball. Then United’s teen attacker Andy Najar sent a lovely centering ball perfectly into the path of a Chicago attacker, but the ensuing shot was wide thankfully. Talley and James carried on the theme of poor clearances right to Chicago attackers, but the Fire apparently felt it would be rude to take advantage of such hospitality, preferring to create their own attacks.

For a team that is used to RFK being a fortress and has now lost its opening two home games by the exact same scoreline, that is simply not good enough. A thought that was echoed very clearly by head coach Curt Onalfo after the match.

“We just have to man up.” An obviously frustrated Onalfo said after the match. “We have to be better individually and we have to be better collectively and we have to come to fight. It’s a very tough league both physically, mentally and everything else. Right now it’s not good enough, it’s crystal clear it’s not good enough.”

The loss drops DC united to 0-4 and they remain on the absolute bottom of the table in MLS as the only team without a point. It is also arguably the worst start in team and league history as only the ’96 United team ever started off 0-4, but one of those losses was a shootout loss, so one early “loss” could be considered a tie. In fact, I can’t think of any team in MLS history to ever start 0-4 without at least one of the losses being from a shootout. Certainly grim news for an already forlorn DC United squad.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no easy answers as to how to fix United’s epic struggles. Certainly no one in United’s very discouraged locker-room had any ideas as to a way out of the deep hole they now find themselves in.

“To be honest I don’t have an answer.” DC’s legendary striker Jaime Moreno said dejectedly after the match. “I have never been in this situation, I don’t think anybody has. It’s very hard to describe how bad we feel for the fans and all the people that support us. We are going through a really tough time, and it’s not easy for them [the fans], and it’s not easy for us right now.”

United midfielder Santino Quaranta was equally as dumbfounded by the situation United now finds themselves in. “If I had the answer I’d tell you.” Santino said after the match. “We need to try and figure it out, but whatever it is, it isn’t good. We’re men in here, we’re professionals, and we have to stay positive and hold each other accountable. In the end we work all week, we work for 75 minutes of the game, and there it [a loss] is again – it’s getting old.”

I’m not sure [what needs to happen]. Quaranta continued. “We have a lot of guys out, but that’s not an excuse. We all get paid, and when someone is out that’s another chance for a guy to step in, and obviously we’re not doing the job here.”

DC now has two weeks to figure out how to get themselves out of the league cellar as they do not play another league match May 1 when the surging Red Bulls come to RFK. At that time quite possibly United will welcome back injured starters Juan Manuel Pena and Clyde Simms as well as see the return of suspended center back, Dejan Jakovic.

Obviously some time to regroup and reload will be welcome for a United team that is simply out of whack right now. “Hopefully with this break here we can use the time to get healthy and come back refreshed.” Defender Carey Talley said after the match. “This is tough; this is a tough streak, and not many people have experienced a situation like this in the league. We need to look to the older guys to lead. Things are not going to get easier if we just start pointing fingers at each other, so we have to be able to pick each other up and give constructive feedback. We are going to help each other, and we can wash this bad taste out of our mouths.”

United’s players weren’t the only people left with a bad taste after that match as was evidenced by the multitudes of dejected fans who began filing out ten minutes before the final whistle. “That wasn’t attractive for anybody,” said a dejected Santino Quaranta afterward to MLSsoccer.net. “People are paying good money to see that – we’ve got to get better.”

No argument there.

United Notes: Forward/midfielder Chris Pontius strained a hamstring in the first half and was replaced by Christian Castillo (thereby immediately increasing DC’s cheering section by at least ten thousand fans judging by the enthusiasm manifest in the stadium by his entrance). He said after the game “I need to have an MRI, and I will see a specialist next Tuesday. I didn’t hear a pop, and right now it just feels really tight, so we will see.” Which usually means more a short term problem than a long term one thankfully.