D.C. United’s woes continue with a lifeless 1-0 loss at home to Chicago.
FIRE 1, UNITED 0
D.C. United began a threegame homestand this month glowing with optimism after starting to show signs of becoming whole.
Saturday, however, United completed the once-promising stretch with three defeats, no goals and a growing, almost desperate, need for roster upgrades this summer.
Ben Olsen’s gang barely made an impression in the 1-0 defeat to the Chicago Fire before an announced 20,618 at RFK Stadium, an outcome that stretched its home scoreless streak to 287 minutes.
“Some guys were saying we needed to get at least six points in these three games,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “I was saying, ‘Why not nine?’ We didn’t get any. It will be a long season if we don’t figure this out quickly.”
United (3-6-2) failed to score for the seventh time, dropped to 2-4-1 at home and lost to Chicago (6-3-3) for the first time in 10 meetings.
Without suspended playmaker Luciano Acosta, D.C. did not put Chicago under pressure and placed just two shots on target, neither of which tested goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
“They’re good, we’re not — at the moment — and it’s on me to fix it,” Olsen said.
United wasn’t good in any of the three matches, falling to two slow-starting teams, Montreal and Philadelphia, before confronting a Chicago side firing on all cylinders. David Accam beat an offside trap early in the second half in providing the goal.
“I’m not sure what’s going on,” goalkeeper Bill Hamid said in a hushed tone. “Their goalkeeper didn’t have to make a save. A lot of guys in this locker room need to take a look in the mirror. Terrible.”
If United is going to reverse course, it will have to do so on the road: seven of the upcoming nine matches are away from RFK, beginning next Saturday at Vancouver.
Olsen suggested help is on the way in the summer transfer window, which opens in early July. Team officials said they’ve been scouting extensively and hope to add talent, including a possible designated player.
Asked why he remains optimistic, Olsen said: “I know this group. I know what they are about. I know what some of the pieces that are going to come back can do for us.
“We’re realistic in that we understand we need to get better, and we will get better in the transfer window. All of those things combined give me the belief that this group will be okay.”
For now, Olsen will have to make do with a group that works hard but doesn’t produce.
United was feisty and focused at the start but, without Acosta, lacked direction. Three times, D.C. dodged threats in the first half-hour.
Shortly before the break, Jared Jeffrey smashed a speculative shot from great distance. Why not? United’s interplay had been coming up empty. The half ended without United creating even a mild chance.
Chicago went ahead in the 52nd minute when Luis Solignac played the ball over the United defense to the fleet-footed Accam. At first glance, the Ghanaian winger seemed well offside. Olsen went nuts, gesturing and yelling. The assistant referee’s flag stayed down.
A video freeze-frame showed Steve Birnbaum keeping Accam onside as Solignac struck the ball.
Accam created an angle as he infiltrated the penalty area and curled an eight-yard shot into the far corner for his sixth goal.
United had two quality looks, but in all cases, proven attackers faltered.
In a pocket of space, Sebastien Le Toux tried to force a pass through traffic. Gifted with an errant ball at the top of the box, Lloyd Sam failed to get off a shot. Le Toux hooked an 18-yarder over the crossbar.
Hamid kept the margin close with a sensational reflex save on MLS leading scorer Nemanja Nikolic surging into freedom.
The only moment of wonder in the waning moments came when German icon Bastian Schweinsteiger danced past multiple defenders on the end line to set up a scoring chance for Chicago.
“I don’t think I’ve ever lost three in a row at home,” Boswell said. “Heck, I’ve been on teams where we haven’t lost three at home all year.”