At this point, it’s safe to say Sporting Kansas City has D.C. United’s number.
In the Ben Olsen coaching era, United are now 0-4-0 against Peter Vermes‘ Kansas City side. And none of those games has been particularly pretty for United, as Kansas City has made a habit of using its 4-3-3 formation to overrun D.C. in midfield and dominate possession.
That was the story in United’s 1-0 loss to Sporting at RFK Stadium to kick off this season, and it was the story again Saturday night when Kansas City grabbed a 2-1 win at home. This time around, Olsen tried to remedy the situation by replacing an ineffective Branko Boskovic at halftime with Marcelo Saragosa, but the move made little impact. (Olsen also said Boskovic suffered a minor knee injury.)
The absence of reigning MVP Dwayne De Rosario (shoulder soreness), of course, was big for United (11-8-3). But it’s safe to say Kansas City (13-7-4) is a team D.C. would like to avoid come playoff time.
Here are some of my thoughts on the game:
— Long Tan doesn’t seem there yet at striker. Both he and partner Chris Pontius saw almost no of the ball, but when Tan did get possession, his decision-making was a bit slow. We’ll see if Maicon Santos (toe soreness) or Hamdi Salihi (viral infection) return to the lineup when healthy.
— Mike Chabala needs some time to adjust to his new team. Getting the start at left back just two days after being traded to United from Portland, Chabala had an up-and-down game that included some poor communication that left Graham Zusi wide open at the far post for the winning goal. It’s hard to be too critical of him, though, given the circumstances.
— There was no post-Olympic hangover for Andy Najar. The winger was United’s only consistently dangerous player, creating Nick DeLeon’s strike with some dynamic dribbling and a gorgeous chip to the far post. He also drew a yellow card on Honduras teammate Roger Espinoza when he drew a foul just on the edge of the penalty area.