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What's wrong with D.C. United?
by Ridge Mahoney, April 18th, 2008 6:45AM

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Is it too soon for the fans of D.C. United to panic, given their team's depressing 2-1 loss to Columbus at RFK Stadium Thursday night? Of course it's too soon. But their misgivings are well-grounded. You can talk all you want about players getting to know each other and it's still April and they've had a heavy load of games and all that, but this team has been together for more than two months and doesn't show much leadership or competitive fire. Bringing back Ben Olsen will help, but he's yet to play this season and can't be expected to jump right in and jump-start this team.

The same shortcomings that plagued D.C. against Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals still apply. Defensive confusion and shabby finishing, especially by Fred and Luciano Emilio, marred yet another crucial test. Skill and experience and class and flair must be fueled with sweat and fight, particularly in MLS, and on the night Frankie Hedjuk, Alejandro Moreno, Adam Moffat and Guillermo Barros Schelotto outgunned United's contingent.

In contrast to Schelotto, who may not always relish the rough-and-tumble elements but is adept at them, Marcelo Gallardo hasn't yet the learned the necessity of playing directly when such options are on.

Leisurely touches in midfield and delicate balls played wide aren't enough; there must be bursts up the middle, sharp give-and-gos on the edge of the attacking third, and once in a while, a shot.

Franco Niell came on as a sub to little effect as Coach Tom Soehn, once again, altered his formation mid-match to spark the attack. His version of the 3-4-3 sputtered as subs Neill, Rod Dyachenko and Santino Quaranta failed to display anything like the cutting edge of the Crew attack.

If it wasn't Schelotto and Moreno linking up, it was a pell-mell charge up the right flank by Hedjuk or a gliding dribble by Robbie Rogers that opened up United's defense. Moffat and former D.C. man Brian Carroll usually held sway in the middle as Gallardo and Clyde Simms often seemed stranded in different dimensions.

United has nine days to rest up and sharpen up for an RFK rematch with Real Salt Lake, a shocking 4-0 winner at Rice-Eccles Stadium on April 12. Kyle Beckerman is no Schelotto yet he scored two of those goals.

D.C. United showed up to play, but the Crew came to win, and did.

April 17 in Washington, D.C.
D.C. United 1 Columbus 2


Goals: Namoff (Emilio, Moreno) 42; Own Goal (Gonzalo Peralta) 43, Moreno (Hejduk, Schelotto) 32.

D.C. United -- Wells, Namoff, Martinez, Peralta, Burch (Niell 57), McTavish (Quaranta 68), Fred, Gallardo, Simms, Emilio, Moreno (Rod Dyachenko 57),

Columbus -- Hesmer, Hejduk, Marshall, O'Rourke, Padula, Rogers (Hendrickson 90), Carroll, Moffat (Miglioranzi 85), Gaven (Evans 63), Schelotto, Moreno,

Referee: Jair Marrufo

Att.: 13,329


By Ridge Mahoney

Is it too soon for the fans of D.C. United to panic, given their team's depressing 2-1 loss to Columbus at RFK Stadium Thursday night?
Of course it's too soon. But their misgivings are well-grounded. You can talk all you want about players getting to know each other and it's still April and they've had a heavy load of games and all that, but this team has been together for more than two months and doesn't show much leadership or competitive fire. Bringing back Ben Olsen will help, but he's yet to play this season and can't be expected to jump right in and jump-start this team.

The same shortcomings that plagued D.C. against Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals still apply. Defensive confusion and shabby finishing, especially by Fred and Luciano Emilio, marred yet another crucial test. Skill and experience and class and flair must be fueled with sweat and fight, particularly in MLS, and on the night Frankie Hedjuk, Alejandro Moreno, Adam Moffat and Guillermo Barros Schelotto outgunned United's contingent.

In contrast to Schelotto, who may not always relish the rough-and-tumble elements but is adept at them, Marcelo Gallardo hasn't yet the learned to necessity of playing directly when such options are on.

Leisurely touches in midfield and delicate balls played wide aren't enough; there must be bursts up the middle, sharp give-and-gos on the edge of the attacking third, and once in a while, a shot.

Franco Neill came on as a sub to little effect as Coach Tom Soehn, once again, altered his formation mid-match to spark the attack. His version of the 3-4-3 sputtered as subs Neill, Rod Dyachenko and Santino Quaranta failed to display anything like the cutting edge of the Crew attack.

If it wasn't Schelotto and Moreno linking up, it was a pell-mell charge up the right flank by Hedjuk or a gliding dribble by Robbie Rogers that opened up United's defense. Moffat and former D.C. man Brian Carroll usually held sway in the middle as Gallardo and Clyde Simms often seemed stranded in different dimensions.

United has nine days to rest up and sharpen up for an RFK rematch with Real Salt Lake, a shocking 4-0 winner at Rice-Eccles Stadium on April 12. Kyle Beckerman is no Schelotto yet he scored two of those goals.

D.C. United showed up to play, but the Crew came to win, and did.

April 17 in Washington, D.C.
D.C. United 1 Columbus 2


Goals: Namoff (Emilio, Moreno) 42; Own Goal (Gonzalo Peralta) 43, Moreno (Hejduk, Schelotto) 32.

D.C. United -- Wells, Namoff, Martinez, Peralta, Burch (Niell 57), McTavish (Quaranta 68), Fred, Gallardo, Simms, Emilio, Moreno (Rod Dyachenko 57),

Columbus -- Hesmer, Hejduk, Marshall, O'Rourke, Padula, Rogers (Hendrickson 90), Carroll, Moffat (Miglioranzi 85), Gaven (Evans 63), Schelotto, Moreno,

Referee: Jair Marrufo

Att.: 13,329



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