WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Steven Lenhart #24 of San Jose Earthquakes celebrates a hat trick against the D.C. United at RFK Stadium on June 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Earthquakes won 4-2. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

D.C. United Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Lenhart's Hat-Trick Dooms United To 4-2 Home Defeat

Lenhart completes the first hat-trick against D.C. United at RFK since 2004, as the Black-and-Red miss a chance to gain ground in the Eastern Conference standings.

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D.C. United Vs. San Jose Earthquakes Player Ratings: In Which We Pump The Brakes On The Backline Talk

A look at how each United player performed in their 4-2 loss to San Jose Saturday night.


D.C. United Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Olsen Says United "Looked Like Young Kids"

You didn't have to be an expert to see that D.C. United threw away an eminently winnable home game Saturday night against San Jose. The Black-and-Red had a chance to extend their unbeaten streak to six games and temporarily vault past Columbus into third place and the last guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (The Crew host Columbus tomorrow afternoon).

Instead United conceded four goals, three of which were scored by Steven Lenhart (he also assisted on the only goal he didn't score); lost at RFK for the first time since Apri 21; and brought back memories of the ugly period in late April when they got waxed 4-0 and 4-1 in consecutive games against New York and Houston.

"I was disappointed in the way we went about that game tonight," D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said after the match Saturday night. "We looked like young kids.

"This is going to happen," Olsen continued. "I've always said that we are going to have games where young kids make mistakes. That I can live with. But the commitment and energy we showed, or didn't show, that was unacceptable ... I think we started reading our press a little bit. Everybody thought we were on a roll, and started thinking that we didn't have to do the things that brought us a little success. And it is a little success. We're a mid-table team if you look at this whole league (Through all games played Saturday, United would be 13th in an 18-team league table) ... San Jose came in here and did exactly what we did in LA and Portland. They got the message and we didn’t. That is unacceptable, and will change next week."

In particular, Olsen pointed the finger at his defense for playing too passively on Simon Dawkins' 49th-minute goal that proved to be the winner. "We botch[ed] a play in our box where we're just not aggressive enough and we let [Dawkins] play a one-two. We were not aggressive tonight in our box."

The players largely echoed their boss's words, and the story of the night was, of course, San Jose's hat-trick hero Lenhart. When asked about the striker's physical play, United centerback Ethan White said, "He's one of the more physical ones, up there with [Seattle's Nate] Jaqua and [Colorado's] Conor Casey. But it wasn't much different from what we expected, and we should have known how to deal with it."

"He's a good player," said White's center-back partner Perry Kitchen. "We just didn't adjust well."

When asked in his press conference if Lenhart was a "hat-trick type of player," Olsen responded, "The way our defense played tonight, he probably is."

But if any statement of Olsen's summed up this thoughts on United's performance, it was this: "Maybe it was a good thing that we got punched in the face and knocked out, because maybe we will get the message that, even at home, you don't get games handed to you because you're probably a better soccer team. Guess what? That doesn't mean anything here. You've got to match the fight, and we didn't early.

"They came in with a very good game plan, and basically just kicked our [expletive]."

United return to the road next Saturday night with a difficult test against Real Salt Lake. That match kicks off at 9:00 and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet.


D.C. United Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Lenhart's Hat Trick Dooms D.C. United

Simon Dawkins scored the eventual winning goal soon after coming on as a substitute and Steven Lenhart completed his hat trick as the San Jose Earthquakes stopped D.C. United's five-game unbeaten streak and extended their own run to six matches without a loss as they defeated United 4-2 at RFK Stadium Saturday night.

Dawkins, on loan to San Jose from Tottenham Hotspur in England, entered the game in the 48th minute as a replacement for Khari Stephenson. Within 60 seconds of his appearance, Dawkins had slipped past both United center-backs, taken an impish pass from Lenhart at the edge of the area, and beaten Bill Hamid to put the Earthquakes on top to stay. 

United should have equalized in the 55th minute, but Josh Wolff's ball across the top of the six-yard area was too far in front of the onrushing Blake Brettschneider, who was replaced in the 62nd minute in favor of Charlie Davies.

United conceded the killer goal on the hour mark as a Lenhart free kick from the left wing was not properly cleared by United's defense. The ball eventually fell to defender Steven Beitashour, who chipped the ball back into the box. Lenhart was flanked by Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, and Daniel Woolard, but was the only person to actually leap for the ball, and he sent a looping header past the onrushing Bill Hamid and into the open net. Thus did Lenhart complete the first hat trick for a visiting player at RFK Stadium since Alejandro Moreno scored three for the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 4-2 win over United back on May 19, 2004.

United sent on Davies, Brandon Barklage, and Dax McCarty and switched to a 3-5-2 in search of a miracle comeback, but failed to produce any opportunities that might have troubled Jon Busch, and San Jose saw out the match fairly contentedly.


D.C. United Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Najar, Brettschneider Cancel Out Lenhart's Double, Score 2-2 At Half

Steven Lenhart, filling in for the absent Chris Wondolowski, has scored his second and third goals of the 2011 MLS season, but his efforts have been neutralized by goals from Andy Najar and Blake Bettschneider as the San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United enter halftime tied at 2-2 at RFK Stadium.

The home side seized the early lead in the 13th minute after a period of early pressure. After a period of possession outside San Jose's penalty area, Josh Wolff found Najar with a beautiful diagonal ball that caught the Honduran in stride as he streaked to Jon Busch's left post. The 18-year-old made no mistake with a first-time, side-footed finish to give United a 1-0 lead. 

But San Jose equalized in the 15th minute after D.C. United's back four was caught playing much too square in the lull after the opening goal, and a simple through ball from Khari Stephenson found Lenhart streaking past Perry Kitchen, who had unwittingly played the forward onside. Lenhart finished his one-on-one chance past Bill Hamid to make the score 1-1, then put the Earthquakes ahead seven minutes later. This goal was also set up by Stephenson, who forced Hamid into an awkward-looking leg save of a stinging shot from outside the area. The ball bounced out toward Lenhart, who beat Chris Korb and Ethan White to the spot and fired into the open net to put San Jose in front.

There was one more twist in the first half, however, and it came from Brettschneider, who took advantage of some slack defending by Bobby Burling and a slow reaction by Busch to turn on the edge of the penalty area and fire a rolling shot that snuck just inside the keeper's left-hand post.

Chris Pontius could have given United a 3-2 lead before halftime, but his curling shot from the left side of the box sailed over the bar.


D.C. United Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Olsen Keeps Faith With Same Starting XI

D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen has chosen the same XI that started last Friday's 0-0 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy to start tonight's match against San Jose. That means Fred will once again come into the central midfield alongside Clyde Simms, while Blake Brettschneider forms half of United's two-man strike force alongside Josh Wolff. Like last Friday, Charlie Davies is available off the bench, while Dax McCarty also makes the bench after missing both West Coast games with a nagging groin injury.

Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop makes no changes to his starting line-up from last week's 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo.

Full D.C. United Starting Line-up: Bill Hamid (GK), Chris Korb, Ethan White, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard, Andy Najar, Clyde Simms, Fred, Chris Pontius, Josh Wolff (Captain), Blake Brettschneider.

Available D.C. United Substitutes: Steve Cronin (GK), Jed Zayner, Brandon Barklage, Stephen King, Dax McCarty, Joseph Ngwenya, Charlie Davies.

San Jose Earthquakes Starting Line-up: Jon Busch (GK), Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Convey, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Sam Cronin, Brad Ring, Ramiro Corrales (Captain), Khari Stephenson, Steven Lenhart.

Available San Jose Substitutes: Andrew Weber (GK), Chris Leitch, Simon Dawkins, Joey Gjertsen, Brandon McDonald, Matt Luzunaris, Ellis McLoughlin.


D.C. United Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: United Return Home For Another Interconference Matchup

After taking four of a possible six points from a two-game swing through Portland and Los Angeles, United return to newly re-sodded RFK Stadium to host the San Jose Earthquakes in the Black-and-Red's first home MLS match since May 14.

D.C. United (4-4-4) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (4-4-4)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Team News and Tactics

D.C. United: The ongoing absence of Dejan Jakovic (hamstring) likely means that Perry Kitchen and Ethan White will form the center-back pairing once again, with Daniel Woolard and Chris Korb as the full-backs. Dax McCarty (groin) described himself as "good to go" during the week after missing both the Portland and Los Angeles matches, so he should be back in the center of midfield. Of course, I said that last week, but McCarty turned out to be a last-minute scratch for the Galaxy encounter. Charlie Davies should feature up top tonight, but it's unclear at this point whether he'll start or come off the bench, as he did Friday.

San Jose: The Earthquakes are missing leading scorer Chris Wondolowski (he's on Gold Cup duty with the U.S.), as well as striker Ryan Johnson (with the Jamaican national team). I'd expect Frank Yallop's first XI to be similar to the team that defeated Houston 2-0 last weekend, with Steven Lenhart leading the line alone in a 4-4-1-1 formation and Khari Stephenson playing in the hole behind him.

Key To The Game

Use the Wings: MLS All-Star Game nominees Chris Pontius and Andy Najar should, in all honesty, have a field day against San Jose's backs, a unit that includes former D.C. United player Bobby Convey (yes, Yallop has him playing left back now). Pontius and Najar shouldn't be troubled for pace, but the key, as always will be the quality of their deliveries into the box and whether Josh Wolff and/or Charlie Davies will be able to get on the end of them.

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