Guys, you’ll have to excuse me if I sort of phone this one in.
You see, I had this great write-up planned for all of you. I had this great piece about how Dwayne De Rosario victimized yet another one of his former teams, drew closer to his 100th career goal and D.C. United managed to win on the road against the Houston Dynamo-for the first time ever.
And then this happened. Bill Hamid’s 18th-minute red card and the penalty kick that followed led to Houston’s first goal of the evening. It was all downhill from there. Call it what you want-a momentary lapse in judgement, a lack of maturity or maybe just an accident-there was no way back for the black and red after Hamid’s ejection.
“A big apology to my teammates and the fans,” Hamid said after the match. “Maybe I shouldn’t have stuck my leg out there or left my feet.”
“Bill is a young goalkeeper. He’s still going to have these games every now and then where he doesn’t make the right decision,” United Head Coach Ben Olsen said.
What’s most unfortunate about the blunder is that United had been thoroughly dominant in the game’s first 15 minutes, doling out pressure on the home side from the opening whistle. Forward Chris Pontius led the charge, firing off three shots in the first 10 minutes alone.
The ejection-which was Hamid’s second in as many seasons (remember this?)-forced Olsen to shuffle things around a bit. He responded by pulling Branko Bošković out and dropping DeRo deeper into midfield. The Dynamo spent the rest of the evening running circles against an undermanned and exhausted DCU side, out-shooting it two-to-one and out-possessing them by an equally ridiculous margin.
United’s skipper wasn’t too pleased with the effort put forth by his side after the ejection. “I thought that we could have been meaner,” Olsen said in a post-game press conference. “I thought that we could have been angrier. I thought our shape could have been better and simply just keep the game 1-0 as long as you can. We got a little stretched, we got impatient, not everybody was working as hard as they could, so that was alarming and we will address that. There were some guys out there that gave it their all. There were some guys that put a lot of effort in and I was proud of them. It wasn’t every guy out there putting in the effort and that’s very alarming.”
With the 4-0 loss, United (10-6-3) lost a chance to keep pace with conference leaders Sporting Kansas City-while also losing a good chunk of the goal differential the team has worked so hard to build. United currently sits in second place, just one point ahead of New York in an increasingly congested Eastern Conference.
The defeat put a bit of a damper on one of the most exciting weeks in recent memory for the club, one which saw two new investors come on board and two United players (Pontius and De Rosario) named to the MLS All-Star squad.
D.C. United will next travel to Columbus to face the Crew on July 21. The game seems winnable on the surface, but there are no easy road victories in this league-and United will have to rely on the services of backup keeper Joe Willis while Hamid serves his mandatory suspension.
Team Notes: Robbie Russell was forced out of the game in the first half with a foot injury. Said Olsen of the veteran defenders knock: “We will see how that goes. We will get him evaluated but I don’t think it’s a couple days thing. We have some reserves that are ready to go.” … United’s July 28 matchup with Paris Saint-Germain gained some added intrigue last week with the signing of Thiago Silva. The French team is also said to be close to locking down Swedish national team captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, though that deal looks to be taking a bit longer than anticipated. … United was without the services of defender Emiliano Dudar on Sunday, as he left to attend to a family emergency in D.C.