Another loss and no goals is starting to take a toll on manager John Hackworth
By David F. Cohen
The Union are the passingest team in Major League Soccer.
Unfortunately, a passing fancy has not resulted in many goals and the drought continued on Saturday at PPL Park against their rivals from the south, D. C. United
A goal by Chris Rolfe in the sixth minute held up as D.C. United escaped PPL Park with a 1-0 win … and left the scuffling home side with precious few answers for the torrent of inquiries about its failings.
“You can tell the frustration in every part of it,” said a hoarse manager John Hackworth afterward. “We feel like we’re a much better team than our results are showing obviously, but even when we’re playing well, as we did at the beginning of the game, somehow we give up a goal on the first shot, and it’s just the way the season’s gone for us. As coaches and players, our whole staff, the whole organization, is definitely frustrated at this point. We’re disappointed. I don’t know how to put it any other way.”
The Union (1-5-5, 8 points) had their chances. And for what seems like a countless string of weeks, they authored a boxscore that only faintly hinted at such an incongruous final score. They outshot D.C., 13-5. They outpossessed the visitors 53.7-46.3. They earned nine corners to D.C.’s two and fired 28 crosses from open play.
All that resulted in zero goals for the third time in five games, stretching the Union’s ignominious streak to one win in 14 matches, including a franchise-record nine-game winless run, and a 2-3-4 record in their last nine outings at PPL Park.
“I don’t really have many answers right now,” Andrew Wenger said. “… I think we’re all disappointed about where we’re at because we had the better of the chances for the second half. And up until the last 10 minutes when we started throwing bodies forward, go back and count how many good chances they had. One? And they scored. How many chances did we create? We had the better of possession, but did we really create any dangerous chances other than that one and maybe one other? We’ve just got to look at ourselves and ask questions.”
Any plans the Union had of controlling the game from the outset went out the window in the sixth minute with the yet another defensive breakdown of the season.
A shot from left back Cristian Fernandez was blocked by Ray Gaddis, but the rebound fell to an unmarked Rolfe near the penalty spot. As Austin Berry, whose late step up kept Fernandez onside for the initial shot off a long cross from Davy Arnaud, rushed out to close down Rolfe’s space, the veteran calmly picked his corner and fired into the low left of the net.
The Union response was virtually nonexistent in the first. Despite three corner kicks and 14 (mainly aimless) crosses lumped in, the best chances of the first went to D.C. That included Eddie Johnson having the ball in the net only for it to be called back on an offside, then Espindola somehow blazing a shot wide in alone on Zac MacMath after Berry mishandled what should’ve been an easy back pass.
Even after the break, clear-cut chances were hard to come by. Maurice Edu fired a shot from distance that was easily gloved by Hamid in the 85th, the only other notable entry from a Union attack that never found a happy median between the overly direct approach of the first half and the less-than-purposeful approach of the second.