DC United returned to RFK Saturday night with great expectation as MLS kicked off. However, the new-look DC continued to play like the team of last season falling 3-0 to the Columbus Crew. Jairo Arrieta opened the scoring for the Crew in the first half, and Fredrico Higuain grabbed a brace to insure a Gregg Berhalter’s first win as the Columbus Crew coach.
DCU Starting XI:
Hamid; Boswell(C), Franklin, Parke, Fernandez; Kitchen, DeLeon, Arnaud, Silva; Johnson, Espíndola
Crew Starting XI:
Clark; Williams, Gonzalez, Parkhurst (C), Francis; Jimenez, Trapp, Tchani, Anor; Higuaín, Arrieta
On a night that was supposed to be a revelation for supporters of the black and red, DC United met its old friend with a loss. The team struggled to create many attacking movements and the defense leaked three goals. DC United created very few chances and looked sluggish in their movement and passing. Luis Silva and Nick DeLeon seemed almost invisible. The Columbus Crew midfield overran DC’s, which was the deciding factor in this matchup.
The first goal of this match up came after some great linkup play by the Crew. The newly acquired defender Giancarlo Gonzalez passed the ball to Hector Jimenez who played a beautiful through ball to Josh Williams. Williams played a cross into the box where Arrieta met the ball and placed it past Bill Hamid to make it 1-0 to the visitors. Columbus would soon after add to the score after Perry Kitchen was judged to have drug down Michael Parkhurst in the box. The penalty call was a controversial one from replacement referee, Andres Pfefferkorn. After everyone was cleared from the box, Higuain stepped up the spot and emphatically put his penalty kick into the back of the net to further extend Columbus’ lead. The half would end after hard, unnecessary challenges from both sides and with tempers flaring from all the players on the field, the referee would call for halftime.
The second half did not prove to be any different for DC, while they held Columbus in check offensively, DC still struggled to connect in the attack. Always a little too slow, Columbus still overran them in the midfield. DC United would turn to the bench for some additional help bringing on Lewis Neal, Conor Doyle, and Kyle Porter. However, DC managed a few corners during their playing time and that’s it. However, Columbus would be an extra nail in the coffin in the 90th minute as Waylon Francis played a through ball to Justin Weram who put the ball into the box where Higuain would grab his second with a simple side foot finish from about 12 yards.
DC United will return to action when they travel to Canada to face the newly revamped Toronto F.C. on March 22. They will be in for a tough match facing the MLS team who went all out this off-season to bring in top players. Ben Olsen should have plenty of time to prepare for this match and get his team ready for the challenge that lies ahead and will look to put the opening match behind them.
1. DC Have Work To Do In Midfield.
As said in the recap, DC United’s midfield was invisible and overran for the entire match. The midfield will need to work faster to keep up the attack. DC United failed to move quickly up the field, which ended with them playing the ball backwards and losing possession in the midfield. Luis Silva needs to be more involved, his link up play directly affected the team’s performance.
2. Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola Did Not Look Good As Front Two
Many times throughout the match, the two forwards seemed to crowd each other a little too much. It may have been due to the lack of creativity going forward, but the duo seemed to falter. Fabian Espindola showed a great work rate against the Crew, but I think a change needs to be made or at least tested soon.