Wednesday, February 28

DC United falls to Nashville SC in front of Audi Field sellout

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DC United’s season, marred by an early coaching change, limp attack and shameful defending, continued to crumble Saturday with a 3-1 defeat to Nashville SC at Audi Field.

A five-minute stretch shortly after kickoff epitomized the darkness.

Two defenders pursued a cross deep in the box. Neither alleviated the danger, leaving the ball to be pumped into the net.

Moments later, a DC player with a glaring opportunity missed the ball so badly he spin-cycled himself into the ground in spectacular fashion.

It only got worse as United (4-9-2) ran its losing streak to three and winless skid to six while dropping to 2-5-2 since Chad Ashton was appointed interim coach in place of Hernán Losada.

The defeat came before an announced sellout of 19,325, the largest home attendance figure since a sellout for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s visit with the Los Angeles Galaxy in August 2019.

This audience had nothing to cheer until Taxi Fountas’s 59th-minute goal cut into a three-goal deficit.

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Since starting the season with two shutout victories, United have conceded multiple goals in 10 of 13 matches. He has scored more than eleven just one time in the past five matches and has recorded 18 goals all season.

Nashville (7-5-5) took advantage of woeful defending to take the lead in the sixth minute.

On a cross targeting star forward Hany Mukhtar in the six-yard box, DC’s Andy Najar and Julian Gressel did not communicate. Both made a play for the ball, which struck Gressel on the upper back and caromed into the path of left back Daniel Lovitz for a 10-yard one-timer into the near side of the net.

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Let down by his defenders, goalkeeper Rafael Romo held out his arms and slapped the ground.

United’s issues continued five minutes later, when, with a golden chance deep in the penalty area, Najar made no contact with his right-footed attempt. He put so much force into the bungled bid he tumbled hard to the turf.

United enjoyed ample possession but couldn’t do anything with it. Fountas sat in a pocket of space beyond the penalty area but rarely received the ball.

Matters grew worse as first-half stoppage time began. Under pressure, Fountas relinquished possession, triggering a clinical response by the visitors.

Randall Leal slipped the ball through a channel to former DC captain Dax McCarty in the penalty area for a one-touch cross to the unmarked Mukhtar for a simple finish from three yards.

Scattered boos ushered United to the locker room.

Nashville needed less than five minutes after intermission to all but end United’s dim hopes. Mukhtar struck a low shot from the top of the box. DC captain Steven Birnbaum stabbed at it with his left foot, redirecting the ball over the committed Romo.

Mukhtar increased his scoring total to eight goals, six in the past five matches.

Fountas answered nine minutes later, collecting substitute Nigel Robertha’s cross and placing a nine-yard one-timer into the low right corner for his sixth goal in nine games since his arrival from Rapid Vienna.

A few mild threats later, and United was trudging off the field without a victory for the third consecutive home date. It won’t play at Buzzard Point again until July 13.

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United is off until the Fourth of July, when it will visit Orlando City (7-6-4).

Here’s what else to know about Saturday’s match:

DC misses out on Gareth Bale

Welsh superstar Gareth Bale, a DC transfer target this summer, will sign with Los Angeles FC, according to MLS’s website.

United had abandoned exclusive MLS negotiating rights to the former Real Madrid attacker after it became clear he was not going to sign.

MLS teams are limited to seven players on their discovery list, and United dropped Bale to make room for someone else, two people familiar with the situation said.

Multiple European clubs, including Cardiff City, had taken interest in Bale, as well.

DC United ships out Edison Flores, acquires winger Martín Rodríguez

In the market for several attacking players, United has so far finalized one signing: Chilean Martín Rodríguez, from Turkish club Altay. He is awaiting a work visa, typically a two- to three-week process, and won’t become eligible until the trade and transfer window opens July 7.

Griffin Yow arrives in Belgium

Griffin Yow, a 19-year-old attacker, arrived in Belgium on Friday ahead of his transfer to Westerlo, people close to the situation said.

He will undergo medical protocols before the deal is finalized. United is expected to receive $100,000, 35 percent of any future transfer and additional cash tied to Yow’s appearances and performances.

The Clifton native will become the second DC homegrown sold abroad this year, joining wing back Kevin Paredes, from South Riding, who moved to Germany’s Wolfsburg on a $7 million deal.

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This season, Yow started three MLS matches and made several appearances.

Bill Hamid remains sidelined

Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was not in uniform for the second consecutive week as he continued to regain fitness after recovering from an undisclosed illness. Jon Kempin remained the backup.

Midfielder Moses Nyeman, who has not played since March because of a hamstring injury, is close to returning to full participation in training, club officials said.

Defender Chris Odoi-Atsem, who has not played since April, is also working himself back into the mix. He initially hurt an ankle, then struggled with a quadriceps injury.

Jackson Hopkins on international duty

Jackson Hopkins, a 17-year-old homegrown midfielder from Fredericksburg, joined the US under-20 national team for the knockout stage of the Concacaf championship in Honduras. Since turning pro April 13, he has appeared in five MLS matches (one start).

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