Dave Johnson: D.C. United Stunned At Home

Dave Johnson: D.C. United Stunned At Home
May 16, 2010, 1:42 am
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Saturday, May 15, 2010, 9:37 PM
By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comWashington---A struggle to find goals has turned into a struggle to find words for DC United. The Colorado Rapids left Untied without explanation and without points after a 1-0 win over the Black and Red at RFK Stadium.United was full of commitment but a whole-hearted effort could only produce half-chances and then complete disappointment. In short nearly a third into the season, United is stillstruggling to createin the attacking third of the field.Instead the Rapids pounced on their moment. It came in the 67th minute when Rapids midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy from 12 yards out was able to slip a ball in between the legs of United defender Juan Manuel Pena and beat goalkeeper Bill Hamid near post to give the Rapids their first win at RFK since 1999.I thought it was a very even game, said United head coach Curt Onalfo. I thought it was a hard fought game. A questionable missed call leads to the goal and it puts us on our heels and we are chasing the game. I dont knowwhat else to say right now.The Rapids goal developed out of an unsettled situation at the midfield. United defender Carey Talley ended up on the ground as he tried to win the ball from the Rapids Jeff Larentowicz. Talley still was able to attempt to poke the ball to Rodney Wallace. As Wallace went for the ball, he appeared to be clipped by the Rapids Wells Thompson. There was no call and Conor Casey played the loose ball on the flank to Ballouchy.With Wallace and Talley on the ground at midfield, Ballouchy had nothing but space to work with. He darted into the box at Pena and appeared set to cross the ball but instead fired off a quick shot that ended up being the deciding goal.Yes this is getting frustrating and old, noted United forward Adam Cristman. We are putting in the work. We are trying to stay disciplined and stick with the game plan but all it takes is a play that we think is a foul and people stop and the guy gets a shot off and we are in a hole.After Ballouchys goal, the Rapids had several chances to leave little doubt about the result. With United pressing forward, space opened for the Rapidsand Colin Clark hit the goalpost with a rocket of a shot from 25 yards out. Ballouchy also hit the crossbar on a free kick from 20 yards out.Even the introduction of Jamie Moreno in the 71st could not turn the fortune for United on the attack. While Moreno helped with possession and could find space in between the Rapids midfielders, Uniteds attack still failed at the crucial moment.There were times when United players held the ball too long. There were times when the final pass was a foot or two off. There were times when runs were made but not recognized.We are just missing the sharpness, the final pass, the shot on goal, Cristman added. We have to get better service and keep getting service in general. The guys are putting the work in wide to get forward but we are just not getting the service there.Indeed United struggled to integrate its flank players Christian Castillo and Thabiso Khumalo. In fact at halftime Khumalo was replaced by Brandon Barklage in a quest to get more activity wide.At halftime United had the only three shots on goal in the game. The best opportunity occurred 21 minutes in when Adam Cristman was able to get a shot off from 16 yards after receiving a beautiful through ball from right back Jordan Graye.We need points and we need points at home, Onalfo said. We have another great crowd. I cant even tell you. I am sick. I would never have imagined we would start this way. But we cant sit here and complain.There is hope on the horizon. Both Chris Pontius (hamstring) and Santino Quaranta (infection) should be back in the mix next week. Injuries to key United players may not explain everything, but they can not be ignored.This is when the character of players has to come out. I think a lot of players, including myself, we need to ask more of ourselves, Talley noted Some of the things we are doing, it seems like we are little bit nave too much.

Check out more photos from the Rapids - United game.