D.C. United were the latest victims of El Mago, falling 2-0 to the Columbus Crew thanks to a first-half Lucas Zelarayan brace.

The hosts scored 10 minutes in, in their first real attacking foray of the night, as well as in the dying moments of the first half. United had some decent spells of possession and attack, but couldn’t find the net.

Here’s what we’re thinking about after Saturday night’s loss. Let us know in the comments what’s on your mind.

First Thoughts

Keep it clinical. The Black-and-Red certainly weren’t short on chances but were missing a bit of clinical finishing in the final third against the Crew. We look forward to the team coalescing and capitalizing on more of their chances as the season progresses.

Mentality matters. Despite going down two goals, the Black-and-Red played the match through to the end, a refreshing change of pace since Rooney has taken the helm.

Miller keeps it respectable. Tyler Miller shielded D.C. United from some very dangerous shots by a fiery Columbus. Once again, we’re thankful to have him between the sticks.

-Sarah Kallassy

Play That Man His Minutes

Props to readers who knew to read that header in a comically bad Russian accent.

It’s time for Teddy KDP to start. After creating the equalizer and scoring the gamewinner against Toronto last week, Ted Ku-DiPietro again appeared as a substitute in Toronto, and again was active and influential. Ku took Pedro Santos’ spot on the left side for the final half hour of the game, and helped the team set up camp in Columbus’ end for the final stretch of the game.

Both weeks, we’ve seen what the 21 year old can do when caution is thrown to the wind and Wayne Rooney throws everything forward to try to make up a late deficit. Both weeks, Ku-DiPietro looked willing and able to make a difference.

He has on-ball ability and instincts that few on the team can match. Able to create and take space on the dribble, vision to spot and skill to hit the slip pass, a nose for goal, a nonstop engine, and a competitive fire that you can see from Harpers Ferry… the kid needs to be on the field.

I’m less sure where he should slot in, whether that’s on the left for Pedro Santos, or on the other side in Chris Durkin’s hybrid position pinching in from right midfield, or even up top alongside Christian Benteke in place of Nigel Robertha. None of the current starters have been especially bad or ineffective, and they’ve each had strong moments in those roles, but something’s got to change.

United haven’t created enough, or good enough, chances over two games. Before the final, successful stoppage-time flurry in the opener, the Black-and-Red had all of half of one expected goal. They managed around 1 xG in Ohio, depending on whose model you use. In both games, los Capitalinos were on the wrong end of the expected goals battle (which in one game, of course, isn’t predictive, but over several it becomes more telling).

Those creation numbers have to improve if we’re going to find any joy this season. Rooney doesn’t need to make wholesale changes at this point, but it’s time to see Teddy KDP on the field at kickoff.

-Adam Taylor

Yamil Be There?

OK, a few notes: I appreciate the effort taken to bring Yamil Asad in the first time, and to keep him, which was an unfortunate failed effort with Velez. I appreciate he’s been a good player for the club, and I also appreciate the increased presence of homegrowns on D.C. United’s roster and in appearances that Wayne Rooney has promoted in guys like Jackson Hopkins, Matai Akinmboni and Ted Ku-DiPietro.

But Asad’s rise from training consideration to appearance remains personally confounding in that I don’t understand this organization’s affinity for him. Consider that the last time D.C. United was stuck in MLS’ basement in 2019, he signed a pre-contract with the club for 2020. A pre-contract mind you, when a conditioning stint in Loudoun for a player who played 19 minutes over the 2019 calendar year could have been beneficial, for a player who ultimately made near the senior roster maximum salary in 2021. Now here we are again, following Asad’s time with Universidad Catolica, where his last appearance was the first time he played more than 45 minutes all season, and his biggest impact may have been his March car crash where he had been drinking (not the first time this has happened in Asad’s career). In the comments on his re-re-signing, Dave Kasper mentioned Asad’s passion for the shirt, a curious note as Kasper and Asad’s fellow Atlanta United alum (and then GM) Lucy Rushton decided against picking up Asad’s option for 2022 following a presumed falling out with then-coach Hernan Losada, whom Kasper fired five months later.

I hope Asad can regain form and/or confidence and channel his play from a few years ago (he will turn 29 in May after all). And while I’m happy that Hopkins and Ku-DiPietro are getting time, I’d be happier if Kristian Fletcher (who had a goal in his only MLS start and who assisted on Ku’s game-winner last week) had been getting the look that Asad seemingly walked back into the rotation with Saturday night.

Ryan Keefer

Your Turn!

Let’s hear it in the comments. What are you taking away from this one?

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Agreed we need more speed on the outside. Teddy KDP may be one way to do that. Certainly he seems to have been a factor when he’s on the field.

I’m less negative about Asad. I think for Rooney, he’s a quasi-known factor. Rooney feels he can contribute in practice and maybe as a spot sub. Particularly since we’re likely to lose Hopkins for a month (or longer) for the youth WC.

I’m concerned that we allowed Zelarayan to be such a factor against us. Granted he does that to a lot of teams. But I’d have figured that he’d be someone we were especially watchful of.

Luis Granados

I don’t think where to play KDP is that complicated a question. Robertha has never produced, and isn’t producing now. Next question?

[…] of D.C. United’s 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew by us (with more from us here), WaPo, and MLS. Massive Report with the other […]

Matt Glad

Having Taxi back in a few weeks should help with that killer instinct and clinical finishing.

Several people have mentioned that Durkin’s hybrid just doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll admit he’s done better than I expected, but he’s not really shutting down that wing defensively and isn’t being a big threat on the wing. He’s swung in some great crosses but you’d hope any decent winger can do that. I think that’s the easiest thing to fix.

Aside from that, the back line looked shaky for the second straight week. I’m sure having Birnbaum back there should help over time, but I’m personally still not convinced he and Palsson are a playoff-caliber pairing.

Bryan McEachern

Asad isn’t going away for WC, Hopkins is. Hence, Asad is a known commodity to be in the mix during that time. I think it is that simple. Or, he has dirt on someone in the brass. Maybe he will surprise me. I doubt it.


I believe the Durkin hybrid experiment has been tried, evaluated and failed. First, I’m not sure most players in MLS have the skillset for such a role, so it’s almost an impossible ask for anybody. Second, Durkin clearly does not have that skillset. He has no pace, an absolute killer for someone who is tasked with switching up on the fly. He has no recovery speed, so when burned by speedier players, he is a passenger chasing the play. Finally, his offensive skills are mediocre, so, unlike Gressel who wasn’t speedy or a shut down defender, Durkin offers nothing offensively to counteract his other negatives in that role. Durkin is a “6” and probably a rotation “6” at that. He came back to the States because he wasn’t getting regular starts for a mediocre Belgian side, I think that speaks volumes. Rooney likes his “character”, that’s nice, but skill is what wins games.


Where’s Taxi?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x