Down a goal and facing elimination in its Eastern Conference semifinal series against the New York Red Bulls, DC United had the determination needed to keep its season alive. Sadly the Black and Red did not have the goals and were eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs with a 1-0 loss.
The score line matched the final from the series opener at RFK Stadium, but this time the Red Bulls needed a goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 93rd minute to securely settle matters. United was effective at disrupting the Red Bulls free flowing attack and until Wright-Phillips scored were probing to at least force extra time.
In game one of the aggregate-goal series United failed to put a shot on target. It was better on Sunday for United with two of its ten shots finding the frame. Statistically that’s an improvement, but it is not good enough for a team with title aspirations. Only four teams scored fewer goals than United in the regular season and they all failed to make the playoffs.
United should be given credit for having the right response. The Red Bulls were the league’s highest scoring team during the regular season, including seven goals in three meetings with United, but managed only two goals across two games in the semifinal series. Organized and efficient United were, but inventive on offense the Black and Red were not.
“I didn't think we created enough in the first game, but again I think this game here is just a matter of a little bit of quality in that final third and making the play that matters whether it's on a set piece or a few times or maybe it's not shooting, maybe it's even the extra pass, but again, overall, extremely proud of the way they - that's as good as we've played here and again I thought it was a good night, it's just we fell short with the goal.”
- All is not lost. It’s hard for United fans not to be disappointed with a season that offered so much more including a realistic shot at the Supporter’s Shield. There has to be disappointment, but also the knowledge that the proper culture has been created by head coach Ben Olsen. There is a core group of players that United can continue to build around.
- Bill Hamid is the best in MLS. Hamid continues to get better and it is refreshing to see him called into the U.S. Men’s National Team for World Cup qualifying. A big reason why United held on to first place for so long can be attributed to Hamid and his many game-saving moments.
- Chris Rolfe is the team’s MVP. Not only was Rolfe United’s leading scorer, but he excelled at every position he was asked to play. From on the flank in the midfield to center forward, Rolfe had a career year and United’s fortunes started to change for the better when he arrived early in the 2014 season.