D.C. United’s strug­gles at home con­tinue as it falls, 1-0, to the Mon­treal Im­pact.


The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN GOFF steven.goff@wash­post.com

D.C. United’s first home match in a month Satur­day never felt quite right, be­gin­ning be­fore kick­off when goal­keeper Bill Hamid was scratched at the last mo­ment and into the first half when United lacked ur­gency and en­ergy.

United fell be­hind inside 15 min­utes for the third con­sec­u­tive game and, un­like the pre­vi­ous two weeks, didn’t mar­shal a re­sponse, fall­ing to the Mon­treal Im­pact, 1-0, be­fore an an­nounced 14,993 at RFK Sta­dium.

The de­feat spoiled a mod­est run of pros­per­ity over five weeks, in­flicted a fifth shutout in nine out­ings and left United (3-4-2) with only seven of a pos­si­ble 15 points in five home dates.

Coach Ben Olsen was livid with his team.

“I thought the whole first half we were full of [ex­ple­tive]. We looked like posers,” he said. “We thought it was an easy day at the of­fice. We didn’t have enough courage and we didn’t have enough soc­cer.”

Later, Olsen added: “They had a lit­tle more to them in the first half and seemed like the game meant more to them than to us, and that’s un­ac­cept­able, in par­tic­u­lar in this build­ing.”

United raised its game in the sec­ond half but man­u­fac­tured few threats against a stub­born Mon­treal side.

“We’re not good enough to think we have a switch where we can turn it on and off,” de­fender Bobby Boswell said. “We have to be on all the time. Our ef­fort has to be there. That’s the frus­trat­ing part: The ef­fort wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily there as a group in the first half. The sec­ond half was bet­ter, but the dam­age was done.”

United’s is­sues be­gan be­fore kick­off. Hamid was on the lineup sheet, but when the player pro­ces­sion snaked onto the field, Travis Worra was in line in­stead. Last Sunday in At­lanta, Hamid strained a groin mus­cle while mak­ing a save in the third minute but re­mained in the match.

An MRI exam showed no ma­jor prob­lems, and he seemed on track to start.

“We had a talk, and there was some hes­i­ta­tion,” Olsen said. “When there is hes­i­ta­tion with a player who means that much to us, I made the call to give him an­other week to make sure he is 100 per­cent.”

De­spite the set­back, Hamid was avail­able on the bench in case of emer­gency. Long-stand­ing in­juries, how­ever, had ruled out cap­tain Steve Birn­baum, Pa­trick Nyarko, Nick DeLeon and Rob Vin­cent. The Im­pact ar­rived in Washington with­out ail­ing striker Mat­teo Man­cosu.

At the start of a three-game home­s­tand, Lu­ciano Acosta evaded six chal­lenges in short or­der and sprayed the ball wide to Lloyd Sam, who chose to cross in­stead of shoot from an an­gle. The feed failed to find a re­cip­i­ent.

Mon­treal (2-3-4) went ahead in the 13th minute on a ster­ling solo ef­fort by Bal­lou Jean-Yves Tabla, an 18-year-old home­grown mid­fielder.

He warded off Jared Jef­frey about 35 yards from the tar­get and pulled away from Acosta, who didn’t make enough ef­fort to dis­rupt the run. Tabla surged into space and, when Kofi Opare backed off, teed up a 18-yard shot beyond Worra’s reach and into the lower left cor­ner.

“We came out soft,” Jef­frey said, “and gave up a soft goal.”

Worra was un­der pres­sure sev­eral times in the first half, which ended with­out United mus­ter­ing a proper re­sponse.

Olsen’s half­time mes­sage lit a fire. While hunger and pur­pose im­proved, ex­e­cu­tion re­mained im­per­fect.

Acosta’s dy­namic work al­most pro­duced the equal­izer in the 57th minute when he split two de­fend­ers and ripped a 20-yard ef­fort off the top of the cross­bar. United grew in­creas­ingly frus­trated with ref­eree Robert Sibiga, who, in the 64th minute, al­lowed play to con­tinue de­spite Sam be­ing blood­ied by an el­bow.

Sub­sti­tute Pa­trick Mullins, in his first ex­tended ap­pear­ance since the third match, failed to fin­ish two late chances. Opare’s ap­par­ent equal­izer in the 85th minute was cor­rectly dis­al­lowed be­cause he was off­side by a step.

The match ended in tur­moil as team­mates held back Boswell from go­ing after An­thony Jack­son-Hamel, who had struck him in the face in the wan­ing mo­ments.

“I was more un­happy about our per­for­mance. We should win at home,” Boswell said. “We had a chance here to put nine points on the board [on the home­s­tand]; we just missed an op­por­tu­nity to put three.”

Notes: Re­serve mid­fielder Julian Buescher was a late scratch with a knee ail­ment, leav­ing six avail­able subs in­stead of seven . . . .

United will host the Philadel­phia Union (1-4-4) on Satur­day.

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