Four MLS teams added an extra game to their 2016 seasons before bidding the competition a fond farewell. On Wednesday, Philadelphia and Real Salt Lake began their postseason. Joining them last night were DC United and Sporting KC. Which of those four has the most reason to spend a few days or weeks wondering how they ended up out of the knockout round?
We're not going to do that cute thing where we give good reasons for all four. Instead, we're going with the obvious answer. DC United went from struggling in the East to looking a lot like the best team. The New York metro area duo might have finished in 1st and 2nd-place, but they didn't look as strong late.
DC seemed to have it figured out. Their squad rotation was solid. Their role players were doing their job. They were still surprising teams in September and October. All that suggested that the knockout round wouldn't be a struggle at home. Instead, a couple of very late face saving goals made the final score flattering. It wasn't that kind of game. Montreal dominated, and that's tough for DC to reconcile.
"It’s obviously jolting. It’s disappointing," DC United coach Ben Olsen said. "We were second best from the start tonight so I’ll look at myself and analyze why that was the case. I thought they played a great game and I give a lot of credit to them. If you give up a goal against them you’re in trouble because they counterattack as well as anyone in the league. Piatti is a superb player and he showed it today. The ball for the second goal was extremely classy. We didn’t deal with the set piece and now it’s 2-0 and we’re chasing the game against one of the better counterattacking teams in the league the last couple of years. We showed some life slowly but surely as the game went but it was too late."
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