Upon Further Review: Opportunity eludes United in loss

Upon Further Review: Opportunity eludes United in loss
May 25, 2014, 9:00 am
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(Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)

Playing its third game in seven days D.C. United navigated its way to halftime and a scoreless game on the road Saturday against New England. Then the rain started and United had moments to match the weather including sloppy defense and a red card in a 2-1 loss to the Revolution.

The Revs Diego Fagundez was given too much room to slalom from 25-yards out into the penalty area to set up Patrick Mullins’ goal that made it 1-0.  D.C. seemed to be in a position to secure a tie when Fabian Espindola came on as a substitute and finished a wonderful cross from Cristian Fernandez to tie the game in the 73rd minute.

Mistakes happen and unfortunately United  paid the price four minutes after Espindola’s goal. A turnover by United’s Lewis Neal in the defensive third led to a quick attack by the Revolution.  Lee Nguyen pressured Neal for the turnover on the flank and then Teal Bunbury delivered a cross through the area to the foot of Fagundez who made it 2-1.

Ben Olsen:

It’s mostly just that I’m proud about the way we went about the game, barreling back to get to 1-1. We should find a way to get a result out of that, but overall I’m very pleased with the way we played and fought. I think we were unlucky not to get something out of it. But they’re a good team – got a lot of moving parts that keep you on your toes. Not sure about the first goal. I’m sure when I look at it I’ll think again that it was a foul. I’ll have to check out the red on Eddie (Johnson). I’m sure that’s probably a little harsh, too.

[RELATED VIDEO: Former Terp Mullins scores for New England]

Conclusions:

  1. D.C. United can adjust.  The challenge was great for D.C. United. With a heavy schedule and first place on the line United head coach Ben Olsen had to find a balance. Espindola had played hard minutes, so he started the game on the bench. Olsen also decided to rest Chris Rolfe and he did not make the trip. Olsen then went with Eddie Johnson up top with Collin Martin playing below him in a 4-5-1. “I knew they came in with an excellent game plan,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. I thought Ben (Olsen’s) tactics were spot on. They made a formation change and it was hard to break them down. It was difficult. We had some good chances, but not great chances.”
  2. Collin Martin continues to impress.  Martin made an impression in seven games last year, including four starts, and finished with one assist.  Saturday was Martin’s first appearance for United in 2014. He had played five games on loan for the Richmond Kickers.  In 60 minutes before making way for Espindola’s entrance into the game, Martin was poised and confident on the ball and was active on defense. “Collin is really a talent that’s exciting to have,” said Olsen. “We believe in him and believe he’s going to play for this team in the starting 11 one day, so it was good to get him some minutes.”
  3. Eddie Johnson needs to be better.   Johnson knows he has to do more. He had two shots and one on goal Saturday against the Revolution.  Until he finds the back of the net with more regularity everything including his work rate becomes open for debate. Johnson is the type of player who might not seem to be making an impact, but then stuns everyone with an amazing finish. We are not seeing that Eddie Johnson yet. And yes Johnson’s presence does make a difference. On Espindola’s goal, it was Johnson running across the box for a header that attracted most of the attention to free up space for Espindola. To state the obvious, Johnson needs to stay on the field. It’s not worth debating the red card on Saturday. It is now two suspensions in three games for Johnson. There is pressure on him, but he has to remain calm.