DC United Frustrated by Atlanta United 1-0


Wednesday’s game against Atlanta was a classic mid-season battle with both teams playing coherently in attack only to be frustrated by equally coherent defending.  The likely result would be either 0-0 or 1-0.  In the event, a masterful strike by Atlanta’s Thiago Almada gave his team the win.

Coach Troy Lesesne summed it up, “I think the match was there for either side to win and you could see both teams weren’t going to give each other a lot and they made a play and we didn’t, so that’s that.”

He was able to take two positives from the performances of two young defenders, Matai Akinmboni and Garrison Tubbs.  About Akinmboni he avowed, “I don’t think enough positive things can be said about Tai’s performances over the last couple matches. There’s really not many mistakes that he makes.  It’s a couple moments maybe on the ball, but he he’s been very solid and I think he looks like he he’s very comfortable in that position and you know for a young player like that to step up in, in the situation that we’re in, which is a difficult one that’s not easy.  And I think it says a lot about his character.  So he’ll build off of that.”

The team has lost two key defenders, Conner Antley, out for the season with an ACL tear, to Captain Steve Birnbaum, out after aggravating a knee injury .  Not only has Lesesne had to bring Akinmboni back from loan to Loudoun United, but also to employ rookie Tubbs.  Lesesne likes his development as well, “I think he’s shown that he’s more than capable of stepping into that role and he’s going to keep growing, so I think it’s two good performances for him.”

With the two young defenders stepping up, Matti Peltola has been freed to join Mateusz Klich to help control midfield.  It is their coverage that allows DC’s wide defenders, especially Aaron Herrera, to move into attack.  Both are also competent to add to central attack.  Thus, United has a reasonably sound first team, but lacks depth due to injuries.

In a league with a fair degree of parity in the middle of the table, focus and execution are required.  The coach felt, “We’re not doing enough to earn ourselves points and that’s the truth we have to demand more and tonight I think we disappointed.  You know that that’s something that when you’re playing at home, you can’t allow a team to come into the game the way that they came into the game.”

Christian Benteke felt that the team was too impatient under the stress applied by Atlanta, “Now I feel like as soon as we get around the box we rush, we shoot, or pass behind. – – – we have to deal better with that.”  He is pleased to have Saturday’s game against Houston to find a solution, “The good thing is we got another game, another chance for this, and we’re at home as well.”

The rest of the season is likely to see Wednesday’s scenario repeated unless DC United gets another impact player on offense and the solid defender they have been seeking on the market.  Perhaps tonight’s game with Houston will supply some insight.


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