After missing six games with a knee injury Fabian Espindola came on in the second half of Saturday’s game against Real Salt Lake as a substitute. That’s the good news. It’s all D.C. United has to take from a 3-0 loss.
The game never came close to living up to its advance billing. Real Salt Lake and D.C. United started the night as second place teams in their respective divisions. By the final whistle RSL had nudged ahead of Seattle to claim the top spot in the Western Conference, while United is dealing with consecutive losses for only the second time this season.
Salt Lake served notice from the opening kickoff that intended to build on its four-game unbeaten run. United failed to match RSL’s intensity and contributed to its own demise with giveaways. Twenty four minutes into the match Real had goals from Joao Plata and two scores from defender Chris Shuler.
1. Espindola will make a difference and Perry Kitchen was missed. United was 4-2 while Espindola recovered from his knee injury. In 41 minutes on Saturday Espindola served up glimpses of his value to United. On a free kick Espindola’s quality led to United’s best chance, a header from six yards out by Davy Arnaud that just missed hitting the frame. Espindola’s through balls seemed to energize Eddie Johnson and he will need to start producing with more consistency. In the second half a Johnson run was rewarded by a Lewis Neal ball over the top and his powerful shot was stopped by RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Johnson’s body language during the first half against Real Salt Lake did not endear himself to United fans. In short Johnson needs to be better and has demonstrated he can be. United as a team needs to be better in attack. This loss was not about a bad night for Eddie Johnson. It was bad night as a team. Just as it is important not to read too much into a big win, it is important not to overreact to a bad loss. Still in Houston and Salt Lake City, United never seriously threatened and struggled to maintain possession. The return of Perry Kitchen from card suspension should help. Jared Jeffrey, Kitchen’s replacement against Real Salt Lake, is a quality player, but United needs Kitchen’s ability to dictate terms much like Kyle Beckerman does for Real Salt Lake.
2. Congratulations to Nick Rimnado. Against his old team Nick Rimando earned his 113th career shutout to become Major League Soccer’s all time leader in clean sheets. Rimando served D.C. United well and has been a credit to MLS and the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“It was an extremely poor first half, obviously. We were just off the pace. They came in hungrier than we did; they came in with more energy, more commitment, and we're not a good enough team to not have a chip on our shoulder when we play. I think hopefully we learned that lesson tonight. I want to congratulate Nick Rimando. There's nobody better to have that award. He's a dear friend and I'm extremely excited for him.”