It all went wrong for D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday night. Playing essentially a must-win game to stay in the playoff hunt, the team had one of its worst performances of the year, falling 2-0 to Chivas USA.
The odds of making the postseason are now stacked against United (8-8-12, 36 points), which has lost three straight homes games in a single season for the first time in club history. The club must win its last two games, including its final home game against the top MLS team, the Columbus Crew, and hope other results go its way.
“I’m flustered on how we came out with no real energy in the first half,” coach Tom Soehn said. “I think we’ve been saying the right things all week, but then we come out flat and we allowed them to take the game to us.
“Our playoff hopes are pretty slim. Now we’ve dug ourselves a major hole.”
Even before the halftime whistle, the crowd was chanting for Soehn to be fired. And this disaster happened before 24,675, United’s biggest crowd of the year.
“It’s unfortunate when you hear the fans screaming for the coach because we are the guys out there, and I take some of the blame,” midfielder Santino Quaranta said.
The home team also had to play a man down for the last 25 minutes after midfielder Ben Olsen was red-carded.
Injury-plagued Chivas (12-9-5, 41 points) looked hungrier to reach the postseason and dominated the midfield play, leaving United few ideas on how to score goals.
Soehn gambled with his starting lineup, leaving his two leading goal scorers, Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emilio, on the bench; midfielder Thabiso Khumalo, who has yet to score a goal this season, got his third start. The moves did not work, and Soehn was forced to make earlier changes.
At the 30-minute mark, Khumalo tested Chivas keeper Zach Thornton with a long-range effort. Then Justin Braun responded, hitting the bar with a powerful shot. Seconds later, Chivas took the lead as Sacha Kljestan set up Maicon Santos with a fine pass. The Brazilian turned on United defender Julius James and hit the near post with a shot. The ball bounced off the post and deflected off Kocic’s back into the net. It was designated an own goal.
The unhappy United fans began chanting “Fire Soehn” and “We want Jaime.”
In the 43rd minute, Soehn sent on Moreno to replace the ineffective Christian Gomez.
After the interval Fred replaced Khumalo, leaving Soehn with only one substitution.
But nothing was going right for United, which went down 2-0 in the 53rd minute. A long free kick from Jonathan Bornstein hit Marc Burch’s back, and Jesus Padilla took advantage of the lucky bounce and fired a shot past Kocic.
Soehn made his last change, sending on Emilio for Burch in the 62nd minute. But the Brazilian proceeded to waste two decent chances.
To add to United’s woes, Olsen was sent off for kicking the ball at Yamith Cuesta after the defender had pushed him to the ground. Olsen will miss the next game, along with Chris Pontius, who earned a yellow card in the 84th minute for unsportsmanlike behavior.
“I was frustrated and lost my head for a second,” Olsen said. “I got hit pretty hard. I left the guys out to dry, which I’m not happy about and I feel bad about it.”
Note - United played without rookie midfielder Rodney Wallace, who served a suspension for yellow-card accumulation.