Tampa Bay Sports Day

DC United lose fifth straight

DC United stepped onto steamy RFK Stadium field on Saturday with a cohesive, definitive game plan and executed it very well despite not having any goals to show for it at the break. The second half was a different story.

United completely got away from what they did in that first half, allowing a confident New York Red Bull’s team to take the game over and leave with a convincing 2-0 decision, their first win at the venerable old park since a 2-1 victory on October 8, 2005.

Red Bulls at DC United May 1, 2010 ©APC Studio - Alison Ciarleglio/ASN

See more of Alison’s work from the game on her website.

United has yet to score a goal in league play in front of their home fans and their winless start (0-5) is the third worst in MLS history behind only Kansas City (0-7) in 1999 and New England (0-6) in 2001.

“I think there was a good effort in the first half. I thought that we were out-competed in the second,” said United Coach Curt Onalfo. “In the second half giving up that second goal really hurt us, I thought our response wasn’t good after that.

“I thought there were a lot of good things to come from the first half…But there’s not a whole lot of positives to take, we’re 0-5. We just lost in front of our home crowd again 2-0 and that’s unacceptable.”

Conversely, the Red Bulls (5-1, 15 points) sit atop the Eastern Conference with their best start in franchise history. It was not until the final game of last season that the Red Bulls reached the 15 point plateau. This year, with basically the same core group of players, it took them just 37 days.

“We have had clean sheets at least 60 or 70 minutes and try to win it in the last 20 or 30 minutes and so far so good,” said Red Bull Coach Hans Backe. “It’s a massive win for us and to have a clean sheet and I think the first win here against DC in five years.

“But it’s been the same most of the games, sometimes we lacked a little quality in our passing game but the effort, the work rate is always top class and we were rewarded for it.”

Salou Ibrahim picked up the crumbs off a rebound at the goal line to score his second goal of the season in the 51st minute and a snappy header from Juan Pablo Angel sealed the deal for the Red Bulls 9-minutes later.

“We have a game plan-how we are going to press, how we are going to defend, how we are going to work as a unit to get people in the right spots to win the ball-in the first half we did that very effectively,” said United defender Carey Talley, who wore the Captain’s armband for the home side.

“We had a certain way that Adam (Cristman) started the pressure, where the ball was going to go after that. In the second half, it completely stopped…I think we went away from our game plan and not once did we execute it in the second half.”

“From the get-go you could tell in the second half. We were in good spots defensively therefore when we won the ball we were in good spots offensively,” Talley continued. “But then we started doing our own thing, instead of what is supposed to be done as a team, and the team walks through you and we finally win the ball and we are not in good spots.

“I don’t know what happened in the ten minutes that we came in here (locker room), but maybe we thought things were fine and we don’t have to worry but we still have to execute the game plan and as players we got away from that and I don’t know why.”

United moved the ball with a purpose and was committed to attacking from the flank from the onset and though they slipped the ball behind the Red Bull backline on multiple occasions, they could not slip it behind Bouna Coundoul.

“We talked a lot about making sure we have more width in our attack and we certainly did that tonight,” Onalfo said. “I thought we moved the ball well, I thought we made some good runs in behind. They had a really high back line and we were intelligent with our passing there. It’s just got to translate into goals and it hasn’t.”

United’s best chance came in the 16th minute when a perfectly floated ball into the penalty area from Kurt Morsink found an unmarked Clyde Simms, clearly United’s best player on the day, who drifted into the penalty area from a deep position.

The veteran Simms, coming off a hamstring injury, was unable to nod the ball past Coundoul , who could only deflect the ball away to the left corner of the 6-yard box. Cristman latched onto the rebound, firing an off balance shot wide of the far post.

In the 32nd minute, completely against the run of play, two poor touches by United in their defensive third sent Seth Stammler away at goal but Jordan Graye cut him off at the last moment before he could get off a clean shot.

Stammler, typically a central midfielder, played on the flank to bolster the team defensively on the abnormally hot day in the nation’s capital.

“DC are a good combination side that like to go through the midfield so we tried to make it as narrow as possible for them. He played excellent and was very close to scoring a goal,” said Backe about the University of Maryland product. “I am surprised because he is normally a central midfield player and closing down the other team and he was very precise in his passing as a wide player.”

“We took one of the strikers (Ibrahim) and put him back as a second striker and we started defending with Angel against two center backs so were defending in a way with almost five midfield players and we dropped a little bit so we didn’t run out of gas too quickly,” said Backe on his strategy to combat the unexpected heat.

United’s last legitimate opportunity came just a few minutes in the second stanza, after a weak header by Roy Miller from inside his penalty area bounced squarely on the right foot of Simms but his shot was parried away nicely by the diving Condoul at the left post.

Just moments later, Dane Richards dribbled smartly around Wallace on the right flank, slipping a near post ball in Ibrahim’s direction. His initial touch was clipped by Juan Manuel Pena, but not far enough away to deny the big striker who poked it in around a fallen Troy Perkins to make the score 1-0.

Pena returned from a hamstring strain and played 66-minutes before being pulled for Luciano Emilio, who re-signed with United on Wednesday with his International Transfer Certificate coming in around 5 pm on Friday.

Angel closed out the scoring, snapping a header inside the left post off a Joel Lindpere free kick past a poorly positioned Perkins to extend the lead to 2-0.

At that point, the air and energy seemed to exhale from the United attack as it became static and predictable and hardly threatening the remainder of the match.

After Ibrahim and Angel had chances later in the half they might normally bury, Castillo capped United’s lackluster attack, rifling a left footer from some 20-yards out with two minutes remaining that Coundoul knocked to safety with both hands effectively closing out the match and sending the home side to a dismal 0-5 start.

Scoring Summary:
NY – Salou Ibrahim 2 (Dane Richards 1, Juan Pablo Angel 1) 51’
NY – Juan Pablo Angel 4 (Joel Lindpere 2) 60’

Misconduct Summary:
NY – Mike Petke (caution; Tactical Foul) 34’
DC – Santino Quaranta (caution; Simulation) 39’

New York Red Bulls – Bouna Coundoul, Jeremy Hall, Mike Petke, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dane Richards (Danleigh Borman 73), Carl Robinson, Joel Lindpere, Seth Stammler, Juan Pablo Angel (Conor Chinn 89), Salou Ibrahim (Tony Tchani 72).

D.C. United – Troy Perkins, Jordan Graye, Carey Talley, Juan Manuel Pena (Luciano Emilio 66), Rodney Wallace, Andy Najar (Jaime Moreno 56), Santino Quaranta, Kurt Morsink, Clyde Simms (Stephen King 75), Christian Castillo, Adam Cristman.

Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee’s Assistants: Daniel Belleau; Claudio Badea
4th Official: David Gantar

Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-85-degrees

Attendance: 12,089