D.C. United-Toronto FC highlights
An uncomfortably familiar feeling of deja-vu hung over the D.C. United locker room once again tonight as players stared down at the floor in front of their stalls before rising to offer insight into the team's issues in subdued tones.
Set pieces. Unlucky bounces. A fizzling offensive attack. Another loss.
"We started the game off right but unfortunately it’s the same story," said a clearly frustrated Nick DeLeon. "We came out how we wanted to but again, we still lost 2-1."
United jumped out to an aggressive start highlighted by fast breaks from DeLeon, deft moves from Leonard Pajoy and Dwayne De Rosario and, for just the second time this season, the Black-and-Red took the lead first on a penalty kick converted by De Rosario.
But that lead, and DCU's offense, quickly faded as Toronto tied things up on a set kick delivered from their own end and a game-winning own goal sent in care of, once again, a set piece.
"I think that was, what, our fourth own goal of the season?" said United head coach Ben Olsen. "That's a lot. One or two in a season is a lot and we're at four. We're not getting a lot of breaks in that sense. It's a frustrating loss. It really is."
It was indeed the fourth own goal in the 15 games DCU has played this season.
"It's unfortunate, the score doesn’t dictate how the game went," said D.C. United keeper Bill Hamid.
It was a sentiment many shared at the end of the 2-1 defeat.
"No, not at all," agreed Daniel Woolard, who still wore the bloody mark across his chest of a late elbow that opened up a gash above the defender's eye. "The free kick they scored on the first one they have one guy on the box. They didn’t have many other chances than what they scored on. We didn’t create too much either, first half we created a few, we played pretty well early on in the game. I think we should have come out better than a 2-1 loss for sure."
United out-chanced Toronto 11-5 and TFC's only shot on target was the result of what many saw as a dirty push in the box.
As Steven Caldwell sent a long delivery from a free kick, TFC forward Robert Earnshaw and DCU defender Brandon McDonald clashed in front of the net for possession. Both went up and Earnshaw got his head on the ball along with what appeared to be an equally effective arm on McDonald.
"I went back and I was a ladder," said McDonald. "I thought I was fouled and I think a lot of other people think I was fouled but the ref didn’t see it that way and I guess that’s all that matters."
It wasn't the only crucial call that United thought the officials missed.
"I thought the referee had a poor night. The call on Johnny Thorrington that leads to the goal is an absolute mess and the arrogance that some of these referees have out there, it's unbelievable to me," said Olsen. "It sounds like sour grapes, right? Yeah we're in last place: here's a coach that's yelling about the referees but, man, I'm not the only one who sees it.
"I don't want to make this about the referees. We're in the situation we are not because of the refereeing in the league, that's for sure … We didn't have a good game. We just didn't play good in any facet of the game."
The loss is United's 11th of the season and extends their MLS winless streak to 13 games. A win would have allowed DCU to climb a spot from last in the league. Instead, at 1-11-3 and with just six points, the Black-and-Red remain firmly in last place.
"Tough loss, same as its been all year," said DeLeon who appeared on pace for his best game of the season through the first half. " I think it just continues to get harder and harder. That second goal kinda put some of the guys down, maybe myself included for a bit, but still that’s no excuse and the second half. I don’t think we generated enough chances to tie the game, let alone win it. That’s what it is."