United had the most number of points in the MLS for the second year running with a 16-7-7 record. United won the Supporters Shield – again. United had 3 players named to the MLS Best XI (Ben Olsen, Christian Gomez and debutante Luciano Emilio). A United player (Luciano Emilio) won the Golden Boot Award and the MLS MVP.
And what will United be doing tomorrow when the MLS Cup final is being played in their house? United will be watching the Revolution and Dynamos as spectators.
For the second time in as many years the MLS’s best team is playing golf two instead of soccer. Why? It wasn’t the coaching. It wasn’t the off-season acquisitions. So what was it?
Late season malaise.
The last game of the regular season against the Wizards summed it up perfectly. They simply could not crush a team that they would’ve dispatched without a second thought earlier in the season. United stumbled at the beginning of the season, regained their balance with a 13-game unbeaten streak and then inexplicably fell flat on their faces at season’s end.
There really is no excuse. Frankly the “key injury” argument is a moot point. United, more so than any other team in the MLS, has the depth in any position to fill up an injury-addled roster with some ease.
And as invaluable as Jaime Moreno has proven to be, eventually he will be put out to pasture. Plus, his successor has proven himself more than capable in the MLS.
After the unbeaten streak they should’ve taken it to the house. But as the season wore on, they just lost steam. But it seemed the thing that should’ve put them in good stead was what undid them.
Perhaps a slip at game 6 might’ve righted the ship. The physical and mental exertion of maintaining that record took its toll. Of course as professionals they should’ve been impervious to the wiles of a record like this, but it seemed to have taken its toll as the campaign ground on.
United simply lost its spark. Offensive forays, creative and deadly in the mid season, became pedestrian and predictable later on. It was frustrating to watch the defensive unit that looked like a black drape which simply smothered everything decay into chaos and missed assignments.
Sadly, United will not get the chance to hoist the Rothenberg trophy for the fifth time at RFK today. Let’s hope next year the race for the Cup takes precedence over unbeaten streaks and Supporters Shields.