Tampa Bay Sports Day

Total team effort nets DC United a 2-0 shutout

DC United recorded their first shutout win of the season with a 2-0 triumph over the Philadelphia Union at steamy and soggy RFK Stadium ending several dubious streaks in the process.

Danny Allsopp scored both goals for United taking over the team leadership in that category (4) despite not having scored since a 2-1 win at Kansas City in early May where he scored both goals as well.

The goal outburst was DC’s first multi-goal game since their last win in league play, 3-2 at Seattle, and the win snapped a five game losing and an eight game winless streak.

“What in a lot of ways I’m most happy about is zero goals, that’s a big feat and that’s probably more impressive than Danny’s two goals right now,” said United coach Ben Olsen, who also earned his first win as a head coach.

The win also spoiled a homecoming of sorts for Union coach Peter Nowak who spent three years at the helm in Washington and led the club to their last MLS Cup title in 2004.

“I’m extremely disappointed not only with the result, but with the way we played. There was no substance in the whole game today,” said Nowak. “From the back, with the simple mistake we should have cleaned up, and in the overall game, even offensively, I think that was the worst performance I’ve seen in the eight months with this team. I think we have to be real about the situation that this stuff is not going to fly with me.”

The match as a whole was sloppy and disjointed by both sides with Philadelphia giving the ball away far too easily and way too often in the early going. The nature of the game was further complicated as a soft morning rain gave way to sunshine at the kickoff, only to see the skies turn ominously dark as the half progressed, and then give way to torrential rain just after Allsopp’s first goal.

The Union should have taken the lead just seven minutes into the match but Fred failed to recognize a wide open Sebastian Le Toux, who lingered unmarked in the United box for several seconds, early enough to maximize a premium opportunity.

When the ball did arrive, Le Toux himself took a shade too long to corral it cleanly but still got a off a strong half-volley that United goalkeeper Bill Hamid parried away with a fine reflex save.

“Across the board, from the back to the front, we didn’t create the situations, we weren’t active like we normally are,” Nowak said. “The movement off the ball wasn’t there, so starting with me I think the preparation – we tried to give them the knowledge that D.C. is not only a very dangerous team, but a determined team, to play for those three points.”

The Union played without the injured Roger Torres who was left at home for precautionary reasons by Nowak. “Playing against a team that is physical and fighting hard to get the three points…the field was choppy and he is a very technical player and it was not the best set up for Roger’s game.”

United’s Pablo Hernandez asserted himself in the early going, scorching a shot from distance in the first 15 seconds off a turnover from the opening kick and then attempting to chip goalkeeper Chris Seitz in the 15th minute after yet more sloppy Philadelphia play out of the back. Neither of his efforts presented much of a problem in the end.

United took advantage of the Union’s early listless play in the 22nd minute when Allsopp pounced on an uncharacteristically clumsy clearing attempt by Danny Califf to give United a rare early lead.

Poor passing plagued United’s early possessions but a well weighted ball out of the back by Dejan Jakovic into space set the play in motion, leaving Andy Najar alone on the right flank. His bouncing cross into the box seemed innocuous enough but Califf slipped in his clearance attempt with the ball landing directly at the feet of the Aussie striker who made no mistake from a step to the right of the penalty spot, burying the ball into the left side netting for his 3rd goal of the season.

“I’ve had a bit of a virus for the past couple of days, and I was busting my backside trying to get in the box. It was just a relief [to score] and I was running around all over the place,” said Allsopp. “It’s always hard to chase games. Scoring early takes a bit of the pressure off, when other teams are up they recover a lot easier, and I thought it was the reverse today. We needed another goal in the second half and we got it at a good time.”

“It’s been so long I didn’t know if we knew how to play with the lead but I thought right when we did score, we actually didn’t . We dropped off a little bit too much and we forgot about what got us to that point, and that was pressure on the ball,” said Olsen.

“Second half we come out with the right mentality and I thought really dictated a good half of soccer. Killed the game in the proper way, the possession was right and the bite was there.”

United had the first dangerous opportunity of the sun soaked second half but Santino Quaranta’s right footed bender from the top left corner of the penalty area went just wide of the far post.

Shortly thereafter in the 63rd minute, Allsopp tacked on another for the home side on yet another transition, this time off a forced turnover near midfield. Hernandez stripped Kyle Nakazawa, who had come on four minutes earlier, in United’s defensive third of the park, springing Najar down the right flank, who then played a low ball across the top of the penalty area.

Hernandez, who immediately joined the attack, sold a crafty dummy at the top of the area leaving the ball for Allsopp who was unmarked to his left. The Aussie again left no chance for Seitz with a clinical left footed finish into the lower right corner to extend United’s lead.

United will next travel to Los Angeles to take on Chivas USA in a Sunday evening match and will return to RFK on a long flight to meet the Columbus Crew in a US Open Cup semi final on September 1st.