Lu­ciano Acosta is sent off as D.C. United is routed at home, 4-0.

UNION 4, D.C. UNITED 0

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

D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen pinned the lu­di­crous mar­gin of de­feat Satur­day on play­maker Lu­ciano Acosta’s red card early in the se­cond half. Un­der­manned and out of sorts, United couldn’t keep up with the Philadel­phia Union and en­dured a 4-0 loss, match­ing the worst home set­back in club his­tory.

But even be­fore the ejec­tion, which oc­curred with a one-goal deficit, United did not look good. Af­ter it, Olsen’s gang was hope­less.

And for the se­cond con­sec­u­tive weekend, United (3-5-2) lost at RFK Sta­dium to a one-win foe and didn’t score a goal. Through six home dates, D.C. has earned seven of a pos­si­ble 18 points and gone score­less four times.

“It’s alarm bells, for sure,” striker Pa­trick Mullins said. “It’s not go­ing to make or break our sea­son un­less we let it. We have to re­spond.”

Olsen was not as con­cerned, say­ing: “I will let you know when it’s panic time. We’re cer­tainly very far from that.”

Still, there are is­sues. United fell be­hind for the fifth con­sec­u­tive game, this time on Haris Me­dun­janin’s hel­la­cious shot from dis­tance in the 39th minute be­fore an an­nounced crowd of 14,576.

With and with­out Acosta, United man­u­fac­tured few qual­ity chances. Dur­ing the player short­age, D.C. was beaten on a set piece, coun­ter­at­tack and a sen­sa­tional strike by rookie Fabian Her­bers.

Philadel­phia (2-4-4) avenged a 2-1 away de­feat to United six weeks ear­lier and won its se­cond straight.

With Mullins, Steve Birn­baum and Bill Hamid re­turn­ing to the lineup, United seemed poised for a good night. But it needed more than 30 min­utes to find its way, and even then, op­por­tu­ni­ties were fleet­ing.

Af­ter dodg­ing sev­eral threats, United fell be­hind. Chris Pon­tius squared the ball to Me­dun­janin, who smashed a 30-yard bid with venom, ve­loc­ity and move­ment. Hamid failed to re­act fast enough and saw the wicked bid flash past him in an in­stant.

Hamid pre­vented fur­ther dam­age three min­utes into the se­cond half, slap­ping away Fafa Pi­cault’s close-range header. A minute later, ref­eree Chris Penso de­clined to award a penalty kick to United when Lloyd Sam was taken down.

United’s at­tack plunged deeper into dark­ness in the 55th minute when Acosta was sent off.

Af­ter 6-foot-4, 210-pound Oguchi Onyewu bar­reled him over from be­hind with­out a call, the 5-3, 130-pound Acosta took a wild swipe at Union mid­fielder Ilsinho. Penso reached to his back pocket. Acosta went face to face with the of­fi­cial. He will miss next Satur­day’s match against the Chicago Fire.

Olsen said he didn’t dis­agree with the call but added: “I don’t think [Penso] had a pulse of the game. He was very in­con­sis­tent and that can lead to frus­tra­tion. That’s not an ex­cuse for Lu­cho to whack a guy.”

Although the deficit was one goal, there didn’t seem to be much hope. And in the 64th minute, Onyewu, a Wash­ing­ton na­tive and two-time World Cup starter, ex­tended the lead by shak­ing off Bobby Boswell’s mark and an­gling in a header off Me­dun­janin’s cor­ner kick.

On his 35th birth­day, the oft­in­jured Onyewu cel­e­brated his first goal in league play since early 2012 when he was with Sport­ing Lis­bon and first in any com­pe­ti­tion since the 2013-14 FA Cup with Sh­effield Wed­nes­day.

United stirred a bit but wasn’t good enough to make a game of it.

Philadel­phia added a third in the 78th minute. Af­ter Sar­vas sur­ren­dered the ball in mid­field, Me­dun­janin picked out Pi­cault for a bend­ing bid from 18 yards. Ten min­utes later, Her­bers cracked a 19-yard one-timer for his first ca­reer goal.

“Some of it is be­cause we’ve had a ro­tat­ing cast, but that still shouldn’t hap­pen at the mag­ni­tude it did,” de­fender Tay­lor Kemp said. “We’ve got to fig­ure out a way to get things bet­ter.”

United note: De­fender Chris Korb made his first ap­pear­ance since tear­ing a knee lig­a­ment against New York City FC on Aug. 13, 2015. He en­tered in the 55th minute for Kofi Opare.

JONATHAN NEW­TON/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

United Coach Ben Olsen, shown here last month, saw his team go score­less at home again.

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