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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.


Union Hold On 3-2 After ‘Alarming’ Start Dooms United

Written by on April 21, 2013 | No Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, DC United, General, MLS, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC

After several lineup and tactical changes, DC United’s 3-2 loss to Philadelphia left everyone in the team searching for more answers. Players were cautious in their tone and choice of words after another disappointing performance that drops them to 1-5-1, still firmly entrenched at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Asked where the team is going next after all of these recent adjustments, a subdued and disappointed coach Ben Olsen wryly answered, “I don’t know, you got any suggestions?”

“It’s very alarming that we started the way we started in the situation that we are in right now. That is very alarming,” added Olsen with a more serious tone.

United gave up all three goals in the first 26-minutes on Phladelphia’s only three legitimate shots of the half, including a goal of multiple gaffs from their most reliable players in just the 7th minute.

“They did a good job of punishing us for our lapses. The moments that count, the three big moments in the game, we fouled up and they capitalized on (them) and that is unacceptable,” Olsen said.

For perhaps the first time all season, United’s attack pulled its weight, generating good chances throughout the match and their first multiple goal game of the season. Perry Kitchen’s 17th minute tally ended a 265 minute goal scoring drought for and the oft-criticized Lionard Pijoy notched his second of the season to draw United to within a goal in the 47th minute.

But it was shoddy and unaware defending against a less than dynamic Union side that failed United. The Union did to United what New York did to them last weekend and why not, it seems to work. The Union sat back with their restraining line barely across the midfield line, begging United to play the ball into the crowded middle of the park in hopes of a turnover and quality counter.  United’s back line was also playing very high inviting longer through balls from deeper positions which the Union frequently tried.

“They obviously watched the New York game and said here is a recipe-sit back, counter, score. Sit back, counter, score. That’s what New York did,” said Olsen. “We know what that team is about; they have a long throw in which is probably their best attack and they do a great job on the counter attack. We give ‘em the first goal. The second they catch us on a counter and the third was a long throw-in which is one of their best weapons.”

Philadelphia did just that, scoring on two counters and one long throw-in, two by Jack McInerney, who leads the league in goals with six.

“We are doing it to ourselves. These teams aren’t earning these goals, we are giving them to them. It’s a team effort but collectively it’s professional. We are playing against big boys and you can’t do that 7-minutes into a game,” said Brandon McDonald, who was part of that first Philadelphia goal.

The Union’s first goal was the result of a succession of uncharacteristic plays from United’s steadiest players so far this season. Dejan Jakovic’s poorly selected and executed pass from behind the midfield stripe into the heart of the Union defense was intercepted to start the quick counter. The play seemed fairly defensible however, especially after Connor Casey’s initial ball was poorly weighted causing McInerney to come to a complete stop to collect the ball just past the center arch and allowing Jackovic time to retreat. McInerney cut to his left to split both Jackovic and McDonald, who tripped and fell, going in uncontested on Bill Hamid, beating him cleanly with a strong left footed shot inside the right post.

“We are having trouble putting together full games and that has kind of been the theme. Today I thought offensively we created a lot of chances and we were dynamic at times but the way we started the game is unacceptable,” said Olsen.

McInerney’s  second goal came from a simple and classic long throw-in play that also should have been easily defensible. Amobi Okugo nodded the long Sheanon Williams throw toward the back post where McInerney easily beat a poorly positioned Daniel Woolard to the ball and then past a helpless Hamid for the eventual game winner.

After Pajoy’s goal, United inexplicably got away from the basics and simple possession that created the chances throughout the match in favor a more direct and reckless approach.

“I don’t even know what to say. I am very frustrated right now. I don’t know what else to say. Ten minutes left and we start lumping the ball (over the top) and we got guys that can play and there is no need for that,” said Dwayne DeRosario. “We are playing into our weaknesses instead of into our strengths and it’s a big problem right now. I just don’t understand a lot of the things that are happening.”

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