DC United could not capture the same attacking rhythm in their scoreless draw with Seattle Saturday night that they had in their 4-1 win over Dallas a week ago. A scoreless draw however, even at home, was perhaps a fair result in a match where quality opportunities were scarce for either side and they both wore out the grass in the middle of the park in the process.
Coming off a bad home loss last weekend to San Jose, Seattle came in a with a well-organized, clear-cut defensive purpose, that they executed very well.
“I don’t think offensively either team was at their best. It was a pretty physical battle. I think they came here with the thought of getting numbers behind the ball and having a real blue-collar day,” DC United coach Ben Olsen said. “You have to be pretty good with the ball, be confident, move and be clicking, and in the first half, we really weren’t.”
“I think Seattle right now is a better team than Dallas. I will say that. They’re coming off a loss, and I think they came in here with a real defensive mentality that they were going to make it tough for us to play and they did that, but we still had chances,” Olsen added.
Seattle pressured very high on the flanks, funneling United’s attack toward the middle of the park into the direct path of Osvaldo Alonzo, who was charged with negating reigning MLS Most Valuable Player Dwayne DeRosario. Alonzo cut down DeRosario’s space repeatedly forcing hopeful, low percentage balls that were optimistic at best.
“Their outside backs were staying kind of high on me and Danny (Cruz) but that shouldn’t have anything to do with it because we are a good enough team to play through the middle,” said United midfielder Nick DeLeon. “It was one of those games where it was really run and gun, it wasn’t possession style. We settled it down a little bit in the second half.”
Contributing to the staggering clutter, Seattle also played the ball tight through the middle of the field. This forced United to cover inside, making their transition to any wide attacking positions very difficult.
United was better in the second half but still not good enough.
“Again, if we’re a little bit cleaner — maybe we weren’t in sync as much, combining up top in the final third as we were a week before,” said Olsen. “In the second half, I thought we turned it up a little bit. We started moving the ball a little better, being more confident with our passing. It was one of those games where if we’re a little sharper in the final third, I think we come out of here with three (points).”
As it seems to be every year, faulty, lack of composure when a scoring chance comes along or a poor final ball in the attacking third proved to be the bane of United’s attack.
“I think at the end of the day it was the final ball,” DeRosario said. “I think in the first half we didn’t come out with the same pressure we did last week but in the second half it was better and we had some good chances but we needed to be more clinical in the final third.”
With Hamdi Salihi producing very little up top once again, Olsen inserted Chris Pontius into a midfield role, freeing DeRosario to drift into a more advanced attacking position. Olsen also wanted to remove the struggling Maicon Santos in favor of Josh Wolff but he was forced to take out Robbie Russell in the 74th minute instead with an ankle injury.
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