Tampa Bay Sports Day

Shorter game, same result, as United loses 1-0

It was a different day, same two teams with same result for DC United, just in less time.

After the heartbreaking overtime loss to Columbus in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match on Wednesday that extinguished any possible salvation for this already dismal season, one critical mistake gifted Columbus a first half goal and the league leaders cruised to a 1-0 regulation win over downtrodden DC United.

Several tired players took the field for both teams and it showed in the overall quality and pace of the match despite the splendidly cool temperature and low humidity in the nation’s Capitol. United failed to record a shot on goal, with Columbus mustering only two, and the 15th shutout ties the league record for futility set by expansion Toronto in 2007.

“Yeah its better when they’re on goal isn’t it,” said a wry United coach Ben Olsen about his team’s inability to get a shot on frame. “It’s a bit of a broken record at this point. I mean you can sit here and ask me questions. Unfortunately we are not making big plays.”

“You have heard this before-this is who we are right now,” Olsen continued. “I am again proud of the effort. I think there is part of us that’s growing and there is part of us that is kind of staying the same and that part that is staying the same is costing us games. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

In what has become commonplace for this United team, a squandered opportunity of their own was punished shortly thereafter. With what is surely the biggest gaff of his rookie campaign, Bill Hamid’s fanned clearing attempt gave Guillermo Barros Schelotto one of the easier goals of his brilliant career in the 23rd minute.

Hamid’s left footed first touch on a rare poor back pass from Clyde Simms got away from him and when he drew air on his right footed half volley clearing attempt, the ball fell to the foot of the 2008 league MVP, who took one step to his left and pushed it easily under the scrambling keeper into the open net.

“We were unfortunate on the goal. The field is in bad condition and maybe it wasn’t smart to play back to the goalie on that play,” said Simms. “The first ball I played into Steve (King) started it off because I think it hopped up on him and he had to play a ball that kind of hopped on me and by the time I got it down there was pressure so I had to go back to Bill and there was a bad spot in front of him so that’s soccer and you have to play through the conditions and maybe it would have been smarter just to play it forward.”

“The field is not in good shape but at the same time there is no excuse for that mistake on my part,” said Hamid. “Maybe I could have one-timed it out, who knows. I didn’t feel the first touch was heavy but a little bit of wind may have caught the ball right before I swung but that is all excuses and when it boils down to it I shouldn’t have made that mistake.”

“Goalies have those every now and then. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great ball back to him,” added Olsen. “He’s a young goalkeeper, he’s going to have those instances and he’ll regroup from that just fine.”

United’s missed chance three minutes earlier was a bit unfortunate but in many ways has typified their anemic attack all season. A splendid but perhaps a touch heavy low cross by Andy Najar from a step inside the right side of the penalty area slid painfully out of the reach of a wide open Danny Allsopp in front of goal.

“Early there was some good attacking. I thought in the first half we had some good series and whether it was the final brawl or, maybe an extra runner in the box, a little extra commitment,” Olsen said.

The match capped a three match week for both sides with the Crew playing also travelling to Mexico for a mid-week CONCACAF Champions League match against Santos the week prior.

United suited up only 16 players with Juan Manuel Pena, who has been nursing a quad strain, getting a shirt for the first time since July 3 at San Jose. Chris Pontius was left off the roster with his nagging hamstring problems and Adam Cristman might require meniscus surgery which would leave him out 3-4 weeks.

United coach Ben Olsen decided to push Clyde Simms back to central defender in the absence of Dejan Jakovic who is on duty with the Canadian National Team and insert Kurt Morsink into one of the two holding midfield spots. Jordan Graye also returned to the starting eleven in place of Marc Burch who is in a boot after re-aggravating his right foot injury.

Conversely, Columbus boss Robert Warzycha went with basically the same line up that defeated United Wednesday night with first choice goalkeeper Wil Hesmer back between the pipes and Dilly Duka and Kevin Burns inserted for Adam Moffat and Frankie Hejduk, who were both left off the game day roster as well.