Tampa Bay Sports Day

DC United loses focus, and the game 4-2

Steven Lenhart wandered through several gazing DC United defenders in the 2nd minute before cutting loose a shot that was saved by goalkeeper Bill Hamid. The whole sequence was a harbinger of things to come.

Lenhart had another shot inside a chaotic United penalty area less than a minute later and scored the first of his three goals on his third shot in the 15th minute as the San Jose Earthquakes raced away to a well deserved 4-2 road victory. Lenhart also assisted on the Earthquakes’ other goal, the game winner, by Simon Dawkins just four minutes into the second half.

“He is a hat trick player if we play the way our defenders did today; so are a lot of players. He’s a handful, make no mistake, he’s a big boy but there are ways to deal with that and we didn’t do it,” said Olsen about Lenhart. “But I give him credit; we got manhandled by a guy who fought every play and we had guys kind of fight but over the ninety minutes he just wore those guys down.”

This marked the fourth time this season that United have given up at least four goals in a match and also the fifth time they have given up a goal within three minutes of scoring one themselves. A bad start to a match has been the precursor to a bad result this year for DC United and though the slow start was short lived; the end result was still the same.

“I think tonight was us thinking that we were a little bit better than we were and maybe it’s a good thing we got punched in the face and knocked down. You got to match the fight and we didn’t early,” said Olsen. “It was very disappointing in the way we went about the game; we looked like young kids. This is going to happen, we have always said that we are going to have games when young kids make mistakes -that I can live with.

“But the lack of commitment and energy that we didn’t show at times was unacceptable. I think we started reading our own press a little bit, everybody thought we were on a roll, so now we don’t have to do what got us a little success – and it’s a little success.”

United used very little width and were sloppy with the ball in the early going but that changed in the 13th minute with an opportunistic and perhaps fortuitous goal by Andy Najar on a ball that wasn’t even intended to come his way.

Josh Wolff played a ball into the penalty area from the right flank that was just out of the reach of Chris Pontius. However, the ball incredibly skittered through three San Jose defenders to the back side where Najar pounced, beating a surprised Jon Busch inside the near post.

United’s good fortune was momentary however as Lenhart collected a Khari Stephenson ball cleanly beating an offside trap, easily dribbled around Hamid, and just as easily knocked a left footed shot into the open goal to bring terms level again just two minutes later.

Those two switched roles in the 22nd minute as Lenhart gobbled up a juicy rebound off a Stephenson shot from the top of the box and knocked it home to give the Earthquakes their first lead. Lenhart instinctively went to goal after laying the ball off to Stephenson, whose shot was saved nicely by Hamid who did not control his rebound effectively however, leaving the sitter just five yards from goal.

“He was good at holding the ball up and making himself dangerous and we didn’t adjust. He’s got a good work rate and we never really figured it out. This league is all about working hard and we got outworked tonight,” added United rookie defender Perry Kitchen.

But not to be outdone on their home park for at least a few moments during the action packed half, Blake Brettschneider drew United even in the 34th minute. He collected a Chris Korb ball with his back to goal at the top of the right side of the penalty, turned Bobby Burling, and slotted a low, left footed shot just inside the near post.

Lenhart was the distributor on the next goal as Dawkins quickly gave the Earthquakes the lead in the second half, beating a helpless Hamid from close range for his fourth goal of the season. Lenhart played a crafty short ball in traffic inside the penalty area that caught Perry Kitchen flat footed and pleading for offides.

“I don’t think we were aggressive enough. We let the guy turn, he plays a 1-2 in our box and we are not covering for each other, all the little things that got us a little bit of success here we didn’t do tonight. It’s pretty simple,” said Olsen.

“We didn’t fix the problems from the first half. There was definitely too much space to work off of each other. Defensively the success for us is not an individual thing but a collective group thing,” said Wolff.

“Tonight it was more of a one v. one match up sometimes and they won too many of those battles throughout the course of the game. We need to get pressure on the ball and move our lines a bit more to make the spaces tighter for their frontrunners. They took advantage of a weak spot for us tonight and they punished us for it.”

United could have equalized six minutes later after a nice sequence of several passes on the right side finally sprung Wolff behind the San Jose back line but his low cross was just out the reach of the sliding Brettschneider inside the six yard box.

Lenhart completed the hat trick in the 59th minute nodding a ball over the late charging Hamid for his fourth goal of the season. A badly mishit ball by Steven Beitashour from the center of the park popped straight into the air but in the vicinity of Lenhart near the top of the box. The burly striker simply flicked a fairly innocuous header backward over Hamid, who had carelessly and inexplicably come off his line.

“You have to realize the importance of each game in this league. San Jose got the message-they came in here and did exactly what we did to LA and Portland,” said United coach Ben Olsen. “They got the message and we didn’t get it and that’s unacceptable and that will change next week.”

Scoring Summary:
DC — Andy Najar 1 (Josh Wolff 2, Clyde Simms 1) 13
SJ — Steven Lenhart 2 (Khari Stephenson 2, Sam Cronin 2) 15
SJ — Steven Lenhart 3 (unassisted) 22
DC — Blake Brettschneider 1 (Chris Korb 2) 34
SJ — Simon Dawkins 4 (Steven Lenhart 2) 49
SJ — Steven Lenhart 4 (Steven Beitashour 2) 60

San Jose Earthquakes — Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Convey, Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Brandon McDonald 89), Sam Cronin, Khari Stephenson (Simon Dawkins 48), Brad Ring, Ramiro Corrales, Steven Lenhart.
Substitutes Not Used: Joey Gjertsen, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Ellis McLoughlin, Andrew Weber.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Chris Korb (Brandon Barklage 68), Ethan White, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard (Dax McCarty 78), Andy Najar, Fred, Clyde Simms, Chris Pontius, Blake Brettschneider (Charlie Davies 63), Josh Wolff.
Substitutes Not Used: Stephen King, Joseph Ngwenya, Jed Zayner, Steve Cronin.

Misconduct Summary:
SJ — Brad Ring (caution; Reckless Foul) 87

Referee: Andrew Chapin
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey; Corey Parker
4th Official: Alex Prus
Attendance: 14,105
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-80-degrees