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Chris Snear

I am one of the few journalists covering soccer, or any sport for that matter, that actually played the game at a high level. And though I no longer play, I love the sport and I love to write. My goal is to make you go 'hmmmm..interesting' or be so furious with me that you write back to disagree...but if you do, be careful because I will write back!!! I started covering DC United and the National Teams in 1997-98, took a hiatus for a few years and then back into it in 2002 and have been sharing my thoughts ever since.


TANGENTS

After Finally Taking a Lead…Not for Long, Free Kicks Doom United Again, Fall 2-1 to Toronto

Written by on June 15, 2013 | No Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, DC United, General, MLS, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps

Dwayne DeRosario’s penalty kick in the 19th minute gave DC United their first lead in a match in over three months. It lasted all of 11-minutes. United proceeded to give up two more free kick goals in the first half to fall 2-1 to a team that started the night just a mere point ahead of them for the worst record in the league.

United have held a lead for all of 41-minutes this entire season…41 whole minutes. United scored in the 60th minute of their lone win against Real Salt Lake on March 9 here at RFK Stadium. Ironically, Toronto’s last win of the season was also on that same date against Kansas City.

Robert Earnshaw nodded home his team leading 6th goal of the season to draw Toronto level at the half hour mark on their only shot on goal for the match. Eleven minutes later, United’s typical misfortune coincided with their inability to defend free kicks. Luis Silva’s free kick from the left flank clipped off the head of Daniel Woolard and inside the far post passed a helpless Bill Hamid to give Toronto the lead for good.

“Seriously?” said a disgusted Ben Olsen after the first question he was asked were his thoughts on his team giving up free kicks goals. He paused and continued, “Yeah I got some thoughts for ‘em but I am not gonna talk about ‘em right now.”

Were there any positives? “Not many,” he replied.

The first question was certainly fair and own goal or not, the chronic issue is that most of these free kick goals are the result of plays that should typically, be easily defended.

Earnshaw (5’8”) somehow got up and over Brandon McDonald (6’1”) off of a fairly innocuous free kick that was floated in high from deep in the midfield near the center line. McDonald says he was fouled but Hamid’s self-admitted poor judgment shares some of the blame for this specific free kick.

“I went back and I was a ladder,” said McDonald. “I thought I was fouled and a lot of other people thought I was fouled but the referee didn’t see it that way and I guess that is all that matters.”

If this and other loose plays in the back weren’t happening with the frequency they are, it would not be of a concern.

Earnshaw was inexplicably left unmarked a step from the penalty spot and fortunately for United, shanked a shot off a feed from Jonathan Osorio in 13th minute. Not only was he open, so was another Toronto attacker on the back side that could have easily been played for a clean shot on goal.

Hamid has one of the only bright spots for United this season but his decision while steeped in sound, tactical logic, may not have been the best choice for how this season has seemingly gone.

“I should have done better,” said Hamid retrospectively. “The ball was in the air and I made the decision to stay. I saw it was one v. one and I trust Brandon so I stayed. It was Earnshaw It was a little bit of a push. I should have come out and taken both of them out.”

While meaning no disrespect to Earnshaw, merely acknowledging the height mismatch, why trust any of these defenders right now? Newly acquired Alain Rochat being the exception, who was composed and very good on the ball and according to Olsen, was one of the only bright spots in the match.

The second goal was a well delivered ball from Silva, and while unlucky on the whole, United were still outnumbered in their own penalty area on a free kick from distance.

“We have to attack the ball. They were a little bit more aggressive,” said Olsen about the free kick that officially, was United’s third own goal of the season.

However, MLS changed the original ruling and awarded Ike Opara with a 60th minute goal for Kansas City on May 19 that by all rights should have stayed an own goal.

“We didn’t have a good game. We didn’t play good in any facet of the game,” said Olsen. “I thought we looked tired. They had a lot more energy than us. They were very direct and picked up a lot of second balls.”

Olsen noted that the team put a good bit of effort and focus into last Wednesday’s Open Cup game, a 3-1 win over Philadelphia.

“We put a lot into that Open Cup (game). I am not putting a lot of stock into the energy level but it’s still disappointing the way we played. The lack of ball movement and ideas in the final third but we had some quality chances,” said Olsen.

 


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