There’s always hope at the beginning of a game, but Saturday’s (July 15) game at New England didn’t seem to offer a lot of it. New England won the Supporters Shield 2 years ago, but missed the playoffs last year. I was in Foxboro for the 2022 game and was chatting with some knowledgeable youngsters before kickoff. (Kids between 10 and 12, if they play soccer, they are so refreshing to talk soccer with, and pretty sharp.) I asked them why they weren’t doing so well in 2022 compared to 2021, and they said “no Matt Turner” (who left the Revs for Arsenal after the 2021 season). Well, in 2023 New England have a good young goalie in all-star Djordje Petrovic and have rebounded this year to the second best record in MLS. It doesn’t hurt that they have DC legend Bruce Arena as their coach.
We were short-handed on defense. Donovan Pines was suspended for the game due to yellow card accumulation, and in my opinion was missed. Steve Birnbaum took an elbow to the side of his face and was forced to leave early in the first half. Also, Andy Najar pulled up lame in the second half.
The hope lasted almost till the end of the first half. United began well and it was 0-0 until the 44th minute, when the defense let Gustavo Bou went untouched down the middle for New England’s first goal. The real killer was at the end of stoppage time when an errant pass resulted in a lob over Tyler Miller. 2-0 at halftime, and New England was merciless in the second half. Najar’s injury left a defensive gap leading to the third goal, and Brendan Hines-Ike (on in place of Birnbaum) had an unfortunate own goal for New England’s fourth. Miller made a couple of nice saves to prevent further damage. DC had a couple of chances for consolation goals, but the New England defense and Petrovic played very well. Final score: New England 4, DC United 0.
Former United player Ian Harkes showed the positive effects of a few years playing in Scotland with two goals, both of them well-struck. Why do so many former DC United players do better in other places these days? Too bad we couldn’t get him back, but I’ve heard he wanted to play for Arena.
So now a month off from the league. We stand in 9th place. Enjoy the All-Star game on Wednesday if you’re watching or going. We WILL have a tailgate at the Conservation Center; volunteers are always welcome.