United has lost twice this year, both times playing at high altitude (2-1 to Colorado on 5/6). They've played poorly in the past on narrow fields in football stadia (that dumb junior college field in Dallas, that dumb San Jose St field). By the second half they looked gassed and they looked stuffed. And sooner or later one of these 1-0 leads was not going to hold up for a win or even a tie.
RSL may or may not have been gifted the PKs (though when I saw that Abbey Okalaja was the ref I feared something awful), but RSL played well enough (or DCU poor enough) for the points. The PKs: I ask myself to view PKs two ways: what would I think if I could make myself a interested neutral; what would I think if the same call benefited DCU. And in both cases, I just can't summon outrage. Ballouchy dived a bit on the first, but that he was that open at the top of the box in the 90th minute that he had to be tackled is damning enough, and in an angle of a replay from behind Okalaja's back in looked like from Okalaja's view of the play it was a foul. If it'd been a DCU player in the same spot I'd be howling for a PK. (And did you see Clyde Simms level Mehdi Ballouchy after Ballouchy's dive? On orders, or did Simms just seek out and whack on his own?) The second? I don't know. I think I would have taken it, sheepishly, if it'd been given to DCU.
I don't subscribe to the notion that sometimes a loss is good, though I think some losses are worse than others. This ought to piss United off. The stories this week of DCU's possible place in MLS lore and how deep and talented DCU is, reread over a loss to the league's worse team, should give DCU's players and coaches ample time to refocus. It'll be interesting to see who and how they play Tuesday in Germantown - I wonder if some players who might have been given the night off are now back in the plans. And practices ought to be spirited.
But one of the greatest teams in MLS history? Guaranteed the Supporters Shield? (Dallas won 4-1 last night.) DCU's been reminded that they are not all that yet. If they take that out the loss, rather than blaming, in their heart of hearts, the ref and the PKs, some benefit may come from this loss.