Upon further review: Slow start dooms United

Upon further review: Slow start dooms United
May 4, 2014, 8:30 am
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On the road against the Portland Timbers the point for D.C. United was to get at least a point. It was there for the taking and even more, but United paid the ultimate price for a bad start and a bad finish in a 3-2 loss to the Timbers

 Ben Olsen:

 “Starting the game wasn’t good enough, set-pieces weren’t good enough for us, and the way we managed the game, once again, in the end was amateur. We take a game where we definitely should get a point, if not three, and turn it into a loss. Again, there’s a lot of character and a lot of positives with our group, but we cannot go on the road and have these cardinal sins.”

The growth of United was on display in its resolve to stay composed after conceding a goal to the Timbers Gaston Fernandez just 34 seconds into the match.  The Timbers went into the game with a 19-game unbeaten streak at home and in a driving rain storm before the 56th consecutive sell-out crowd at Providence Park United could have folded.

RELATED: [D.C. United lose 3-2, undefeated streak ends]

Instead United forged ahead and played like a team capable of ambushing the Timbers and grabbing the full three points with a win. A Timbers own goal from a Cristian Fernandez header off a Fabian Espindola corner kick in the 78th minute put United in a position for a draw. Instead United did not kill off the game and Maximiliano Urrutti scored in stoppage time to deliver the Timbers their first win of the season.

Conclusions:

  1.      United has real depth. Eddie Johnson did not play because of a hamstring injury. Sean Franklin was sidelined by a toe injury.  Conor Doyle stepped in for Johnson. Chris Korb started for Franklin. Korb in particular played well at right back and in addition to his defense was involved in the attack. When head coach Ben Olsen went to his bench Luis Silva, Alex Caskey, and Lewis Neal were positive introductions. United’ s equalizing goal came after all three were on the field. Davy Arnaud did not start the season in the middle of the park, but he has seized that role and provided United’s first goal on a wonderful strike from 35-yards out.
  2.      Fabian Espindola is the straw that stirs the drink. Espindola’s quality is constant and his confidence with United continues to grow. All night Espindola was United’s “danger man.” There was always sense with him on the ball something positive was about to happen and it usually did.
  3.      Use the anger going forward.  United is a new team and it should have realized it is for real after last week’s 4-1 win over FC Dallas. Instead a tentative start highlighted by Cristian Fernandez‘s bad giveaway in the first minute made United appear like a team uncertain of itself. D.C. United has the talent to impose its will on a game and needs to show that assertiveness this week in another road test against Philadelphia.

Ben Olsen:

“I thought in the second half, we realized that we’re good soccer players. We were confident in the way we pass the ball. I think, more than anything that helped. I thought we were physical. I thought some of their key players were nullified and, again, just very disappointing to come out of here with nothing.”