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[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’ DC United Lose 3-0 at Home Overwhelmed by Shorthanded FC Dallas’ color=’custom-color-heading’ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ custom_font=’#ffffff’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=”][/av_heading]

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Author: Iain Macintosh

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Still without a win this season, DC United manager Ben Olsen called for his players to be more clinical in front of goal before their meeting with a depleted FC Dallas. Unfortunately for him, most of his problems came at the other end of the pitch. DC were only missing defender Steve Birnbaum, but what a miss he proved to be. His team started brightly, pinning Dallas into their own half, albeit without really creating anything of note. But that hope was short-lived; quickly snuffed out by DC’s own hapless defenders.

There didn’t appear to be any danger in the 14th minute when DC left-back Taylor Kemp and replacement centre-back Kofi Opare trotted over to deal with a harmless header that looped into their half. Perhaps it would have remained harmless had one of them only taken control of the situation. Instead, they nearly ran into each other. Opare went one way, hands in the air as if to say that this was nothing to do with him. Kemp stumbled the other way, barely in control of the ball and accelerating towards his own goal. Maxi Urruti and Michael Barrios’ decision to apply some pressure paid instant dividends. The former bundled Kemp off the ball, the latter deftly chipped it past Travis Worra and into the bottom corner. And this was only the start.
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Because of MLS’s bewildering decision to continue with a limited run of fixtures over the international ‘break’, Dallas were without seven first team players, but they coped admirably.

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You can learn a lot about a team from the way they respond to catastrophic results

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and in the two games since Óscar Pareja’s side had their pants pulled down by Owen Coyle’s Houston Dynamo, Dallas have played two, won two, scored five and have conceded none. Now that’s a positive response.

DC could only wish for that sort of bouncebackability. They looked as though they would open their MLS season with a surprise win in Los Angeles, taking a 1-0 lead into half-time on that opening night. It all went downhill from there. The Galaxy came back with four unanswered second half goals. Then draws with New England and Colorado soon followed. And now this. A crushing 0-3 home defeat that leaves them ninth from ten in the Eastern Conference, having played a game more than bottom side Columbus. And the first goal was not an isolated incident. Fourteen minutes later, Dallas doubled their lead.

DC centre-back Bobby Boswell wellied the ball onto the left flank and Kemp, who really wasn’t having a good day, clattered forward to support the attack. But there was no attack. Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead headed the ball forward to Barrios, who in turn headed it forward to Mauro Diaz, leaving Kemp stranded some distance in front of the ball. He skidded to a halt and sprinted back to base, but not as fast as Barrios, who continued his run, accepted the ball back from Diaz and ran into the Kemp-shaped hole in DC’s backline. Once again, his finish was deft and calm.
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If Olsen hadn’t yet concluded that this wasn’t going to end well, further evidence arrived on 35 minutes when Nick DeLeon generously took the heat off the defence by offering up his own industrial strength clanger. Kemp, for whom you have to feel some sympathy, chipped in a really nice cross that caused havoc in the Dallas box. Defender Matt Hedges executed a bold diving header that would have looked much better had he not succeeded only in diverting the ball to the feet of DeLeon. But with more space and time than you’d find in a Stephen Hawking book, the 25 year old spanked the ball high over the bar.

Dallas’ third goal was really just depressing. Once again, the DC defence was to blame. As their opponents looked to break across the halfway line, Boswell pushed up to play an offside trap, while his partner Opare dropped deep to keep Maxi Urruti very much onside, with entirely predictable consequences. You can play a high line in MLS or you can play a deep line, but you really can’t play both at the same time.

Olsen has known worse than this, of course. He was the coach for that astonishing 2013 campaign that brought just three wins in 34 games. He survived that and he’ll surely survive this rocky start. But he needs to shake some sense into his defence quickly. As for Dallas, winners of the Western Conference and only denied the Supporters Shield by goal difference, they’ve managed to put a bit more distance between themselves and that hideous result at Houston.
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Iain Macintosh
Is a football writer for ESPNFC and the editor of  The Set Pieces

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