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A View From the Top Row DC United vs Columbus Crew A Game Recap

Starting Lineup 

DC United 

Starters: Tyler Miller, Jacob Greene (Mohanad Jeahze 62′), Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum, Victor Pálsson, Pedro Santos (Ruan 62′), Russell Canouse (Ted Ku-DiPietro 80′), Lewis O’Brien, Mateusz Klich, Taxi Fountas, Christian Benteke

Unused Subs: Alex Bono, Matai Akinmboni, Hayden Sargis, Jackson Hopkins, Kristian Fletcher, Yamil Asad


Captain: Steve Birnbaum

Out Injured: Chris Durkin, Nigel Robertha

The Formation = 4-4-2

Columbus Crew 

Starters: Patrick Schulte, Milos Degenek, Gustavo Vallecilla (Philip Quinton 85′), Will Sands, Steven Moreira, Darlington Nagbe, Aidan Morris, Alexandru Matan (Sean Zawadzki 85′), Mohamed Farsi, Lucas Zelarayán (Yaw Yeboah 85′), Christian Ramírez (Jacen Russell-Rowe 90’+1′)

Unused Subs: Evan Bush, Jimmy Mendranda, Isaiah Parente, Max Arfsten, Keegan Monroe Hughes

Captain:  Darlington Nagbe

The Formation = 3-4-2-1

Recap: DC United’s slide continues. For the seventh consecutive match, Head Coach Wayne Rooney started a different defensive line. The biggest shock was Victor Pálsson at Right Back. One can assume that this was in the place of Chris Durkin, who had picked up a gash on his foot that required stitches. Another surprise was Pedro Santos getting the start at Right Forward.

The strategy seemed like it was going to work when Christian Benteke brought down a hard pass in Columbus’s penalty box. The Crew’s young goalkeeper had come out to challenge, and Benteke was able to toe poke the ball right to the player every United fan would want him to. Taxi Fountas looked set to get his first goal of the season, firing a shot at an open net, but Will Sands flew in and blocked his attempt right on the line. In a sign of how the ball was going to bounce on the night, the ball went off Sand’s heel and ricocheted directly into Patrick Schulte’s hands.

Let’s get it out of the way. The penalty was ridiculous, especially after the shambolic excuse the league came up with for not awarding DC a penalty the week before. That VAR chose to call for the referee to take a look at that play after it wasn’t called was shocking, that the league is trying to say Canouse stepped on Matan’s foot is laughable. Rooney is right when he points out that Matan wouldn’t have been able to take a couple steps after the contact without breaking stride if his foot was stepped on. That suddenly both knees gave way after a couple steps clearly demonstrated that Matan took a dive.

What was worse was Taxi was taken down with more contact from the Columbus defender, and somehow VAR was nowhere to be seen or heard. Later in the second half Patrick Schulte in one of his few missteps heavily fouled Birnbaum, again no love from the referee or VAR. The refereeing was so bad that at one point Columbus actually passed a free kick they were wrongly awarded back to DC. Referee Rosendo Mendoza and his crew should not be proud of their performance in this game.

Still, being only a goal down going into the second half, DC was in the match. Unfortunately early in the second half, Christian Ramírez did what he does a lot, and that was score a goal. On first glance it seemed to be a really well crafted goal, and the inevitable loss of concentration by the DC defense. Mohamed Farsi picked up the ball near the end line and made a perfect pass to Ramírez who had found a pocket In between Steven Birnbaum and Victor Pálsson to one time a shot past Miller. However during his postgame news conference Wayne Rooney  pointed out that the second goal should not have been counted. Christian Ramírez was in an offside position during the initial pass at the beginning of the play.

In addition Ramírez interfered with Greene when the young defender was going for the ball. Greene is not able to close out on Farsi whose pinpoint pass leads to the goal.  Again this play should have been reviewed by VAR, but somehow didn’t get reviewed.

At the time, in the stadium, none of this was apparent, but it should have been to the AR and the VAR crew. It’s getting really tiring that these things keep happening to DC United. Hopefully some of these calls and bounces of the ball start going DC United’s way.

The second half showed DC United still had grit. The team kept fighting, and creating chances. At the 60 minute mark, Rooney subbed out Pedro Santos and Jacob Greene for Ruan and Mo Jeahze. While Jeahze played the traditional Fullback role, Ruan played more the winger up the pitch. The Brazilian made a big difference immediately when he came in, his speed challenging the high line that Wilfried Nancy has the Crew employ.

Because the final twenty minutes saw the Black and Red were pushing for at least a goal the game opened up, and the Crew had a couple more really good chances on goal, but Miller was able to make the saves. At the same time, DC was able to create a number of serious goal opportunities for themselves, and if not for some stellar goalkeeping and last second miscues, DC could have very well been back in the match.

Things are dire at Buzzard Point right now. The team doesn’t have an identity, and the team’s goal scorers are just not finding the back of the net. They are tantalizing close, but the team needs to get some positive plays, so they can gain confidence; hopefully next week’s trip to Canada can get a better result.

Words from the Gaffer: “I don’t know. I think it’s so slight, the contact. And I’ve played the game a long time. If you can take two steps after the contact. You’re staying on your feet. He’s conned the referee. He’s conned VAR. And fair play to him. I don’t blame him. That’s what strikers do.

Observations From the Upper Deck: 

  • Lewis O’Brien is a talented player and going to be fun to watch for the next few months.

  • Alexandru Matan took an Olympic worthy dive

  • Referee Rosendo Mendoza bites

  • DC lost a bit of composure after the penalty call

  • Referee Rosendo Mendoza has a thin skin, having flashed 2 yellow cards for comments from DC United players

  • If the foul on Matan was a penalty, then the challenge on Taxi in the Columbus box should have been awarded a penalty too.

  • Victor Pálsson is not a Fullback 

  • Mateusz Klich is not a wing player 

  • Russell Canouse had an interesting game; he was aggressive in the defense, made a number of strong tackles and covered a lot of ground. On the other hand he was troubled by the press and had a lot of errant passes; not sure if he was a net positive or negative.

  • Rooney doesn’t seem to see Ruan as a Fullback 

  • It was a mistake not having Ruan from the beginning of the match; his runs were dangerous

  • I wish Ruan would have pulled the trigger and put a shot on goal instigated trying to pass to the far post

  • I miss Andy Najar

  • Taxi and Benteke are getting so many goal opportunities, I can’t believe DC hasn’t scored a goal in two consecutive games

  • The next game is a must-win match

Player Ratings (FotMob):

Tyler Miller            6.5

Jacob greene           6.1

Steve Birnbaum.     6.9

Donovan Pines        7.3

Victor Pálsson         7.5

Lewis O’Brian         8.0

Russell Canouse      6.3

Pedro Santos            6.3

Mateusz Klich         5.6

Taxi Fuentas            6.4

Christian Benteke    7.5


Ted Ku-DiPietro          6.1

Ruan                            6.7

Mo Jeahze                   6.5

Hayden Sargis

Next Match: 

D.C. United versus CF Montréal at Stade Saputo on April 15 at 7:30 pm ET.

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