The never ending downfall for DC United continued on July 3rd at CenturyLink Field as once again the Black & Red did not play bad per say; however, the Seattle Sounders were able to finish their chances. With the 0-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders, DC United fall to (2-13-3, 9 points) placing them 14 points behind the Houston Dynamo who currently occupy the fifth and final MLS Playoff spot. During the past 18 MLS matches, Ben Olsen's side sport a -21 goal differential which speaks volumes to the lack of attacking success his side have had both at RFK Stadium and on the road.
Wednesday night was no different for DC United – new day, same result and performance. Much like the season has been going, United had a few spurts here and there of cohesion yet, the majority of the night DC spend their time chasing the hosts. Despite the lack of any real hope his side have put forth in the MLS front (mind you, DC still are in the US Open Cup) Olsen remains positive for the most part as he told The Washington Post "I still like a lot about this team. I am not blowing smoke." Certainly, it's hard to believe Olsen's comments because he's been noted for ripping into his players during halftime talks, or voicing his opinions to the media – in the grand scheme of things, the talent is there but there is absolutely no accountability. Yes, Olsen has taken out his captain Dwayne De Rosario on numerous occasions, Brandon McDonald sits more often than not, and even Bill Hamid has been called out for rash decisions and goalkeeping errors.
The plain and short of it is, DC United do not seem superior to their opponents, on any part of the pitch. Martins had a field day against James Riley and Kyle Porter who maneuvered his way through the midfield and defense with ease. In terms of the attack, Gspurning did not have much to do especially in the first half as DC seemed to settle for long-range efforts. With the little attacking prowess that the Black & Red do have, it hurt just a bit more without De Rosario and Nick DeLeon in the lineup.
The icing on the cake is that DC United have only scored one goal in their last seven road games – a very unsettling statistic. The reason this is so, is because United lack a true goalscorer. Yes, Pontius finds his way forward on occasion but he is not ruthless in and around the eighteen. Lionard Pajoy is probably DC's best option going forward; however he does not work well with others at times and remains a bit selfish taking on two, sometimes three defenders. And Carlos Ruiz – well, we'll save that for another day.
As much as we'd like to scorn DC for their horrendous performances this season, I'm beginning to just feel bad for them. On the night, Chris Pontius was DC's best performer but again, he did not truly play the entire 90 minutes. Much of the first half he was undone by opposing defenders and lacked any attacking spirit. But, the final 45 minutes saw Pontius grab the match by the horns and attempted to rally the troops – but to no avail.
CenturyLink Field was once again graced with a victory as Seattle recorded their fourth consecutive home win courtesy of two goals from Obafemi Martins. With Bill Hamid off on US Men's National Team duty, Joe Willis took on the tough task of stopping Brad Evans and Martins whom both combine ever-so-well in past matches. And, it did not take long for the Sounders to find their breakthrough – in the 19th minute Evans placed a perfectly timed ball into the path of Martins who easily slotted a strike past Willis.
The atmosphere for the Sounders was electric and Evans noted that immediately (via SoundersFC.com):
"First game back in front of the home fans was phenomenal. You always get a special feeling playing in front of these fans. It's definitely something you never forget and try not to take for granted, but it was a great night."
The home crowd would have even more to cheer about in the latter stages of the second half as the Nigerian would not stop there, as he added his second goal of the match in second half stoppage time after tireless work running down a loose ball, before securing the three points for the hosts. As for the visitors, Chris Pontius and Perry Kitchen both had efforts turned away from Michael Gspurning who perfectly positioned himself on numerous occasions from set pieces.
We've come to a point in the MLS season where hopes of another playoff run are far gone. Sure, DC could turn the switch and begin to win like madmen, but in reality that will not happen. With their best chance of success coming from the Open Cup, Olsen could be hard pressed to start younger, less experienced players in the remaining MLS games to give them some confidence in the buildup to next season. For the US Open Cup, continue to field the strongest starting XI possible and just hope for the best.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)