United vs Union: Awful start dooms United to fourth consecutive loss

Last season’s motto for D.C. United was “Take Back RFK”. They certainly did that by compiling a 12-1-4 record at the old building and instilling a new confidence in the squad. Apparently the motto so far in this disastrous start to the 2013 season should be named “Give Back RFK” as United lost their third consecutive home match and fourth match overall by a 3-2 score to rival Philadelphia Union.

Philadelphia scored twice in the first eleven minutes to help the visitors to their first ever win at RFK Stadium. Jack McInerney scored twice and Conor Casey scored to help put the visitors out front 3-1 after the first 45 minutes. McInerney, just 20-years old, got the scoring started in the seventh minute thanks mostly to some Keystone Cops defending by United. Defender Dejan Jakovic’ lazy up field pass was easily cut out and started an instant counter attack. Casey put McInerney through towards goal but Jakovic and Brandon McDonald recovered sufficiently to deal with the young striker. McInerney’s simple cut to his left somehow left both of United’s defenders out in the cold as the youngster’s left-footed blast easily beat United goalkeeper Bill Hamid for the quick 1-0 lead.

The visitors soon doubled their advantage just four minutes later. Defender Daniel Woolard took a poor angle and allowed former United midfielder Danny Cruz to get in behind him deep down the right side of the penalty area. Cruz’ simple cutback took Woolard out of the play as he spotted Casey at the top of the penalty area. The burly striker took one touch to his left and sent a worm burner past Hamid’s near post for a shock 2-0 lead.

Considering United’s poor start to the season so far, it wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility to see the Black-and-Red pack it in and play to what would have inevitably been a 4 or 5-0 home loss. However, United somehow managed to find the urgency that has been missing all season offensively and halved the deficit in the 17th minute. A poor free kick from Chris Pontius ended back on the midfielders feet and he sent a ball to the left side of the field to Jakovic. The central defender found his partner Brandon McDonald all alone at the top of the area and the his subsequent pass beautifully split the Union defense and hit Dwayne De Rosario in stride. The Canadian then played the ball back towards the penalty spot where Perry Kitchen blasted the ball past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to give United a brief respite of hope. The goal, only the third through seven matches was easily United’s best constructed moment of this season.

That hope turned sour once again in the 26th minute when United’s set piece defending failed them once again. Sheanon Williams long throw in was flicked to the back post by defender Amobi Okugo right to McInerney  who picked up the loose ball and fired left-footed once again to beat Hamid. Daniel Woolard was caught ball watching on the play and allowed the Union striker to bag his MLS-leading sixth goal of the season. United now has given up 10 goals in seven matches, 5 of which have been scored on set pieces.

United once again though did not give up and two minutes after the restart had shaved the lead to 3-2. Daniel Woolard got space on the left flank and his inch perfect cross met the head of Lionard Pajoy who easily beat MacMath. United continued to pour players forward for the remainder of the match but to no avail. In fact, Philadelphia had the best scoring opportunity in the dying moments when midfielder Keon Daniel waltzed through the clearly tiring United defense only to see Hamid stone the Union attacker and keep United’s faint equalizing hopes alive. United had a free kick in stoppage time but Carlos Ruiz’ effort was easily handled by MacMath, sealing United’s league-leading fourth loss in a row. United now has dropped to the bottom of the league with the loss.

United will next face the Columbus Crew in the capitol of Ohio next Saturday evening. United will then be off the following weekend before hosting the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, May 8th.


United Notes

– McInerney was drafted seventh overall by the Union at the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. You’ll remember that United had traded Fred and a #1 pick in 2010 for the rights to Troy Perkins. Perkins was then subsequently traded to the Portland Timbers after his awful 2010 season with United. That trade set in motion a number of deals that eventually saw Dwayne De Rosario make his way to United

– Midfielder Marcos Sanchez sprained an ankle in training and did not make the 18-man squad.

– Casey Townsend did make the squad and was seemingly set to make a late appearance when Olsen pulled him back and chose instead Robbie Russell. Olsen said that Russell’s ability to “get his head on everything” was one of the reasons he was chosen over Townsend.

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