There appears to be little explanation. The theme remains the same for the Union in what has become a season of unfinished chances.
Each game, team manager John Hackworth talks about how his team is creating chances, only to fail to finish.
Yet after Thursday’s 1-0 loss to D.C. United at PPL Park, Hackworth couldn’t conceal his frustration.
“I feel like we have a great group of soccer players, very talented individuals, but we’re on the young side, for sure, and we haven’t learned how to put the ball in the back of the net when it really matters, when we get our chances,” Hackworth said. “So I’m very positive about this group, but at the same time I’m disappointed for them. I think they’ve deserved more than they’ve gotten, for sure.”
Jack McInerney, who hasn’t scored a goal since a 2-1 win over New England on July 29 and who created several chances in the loss to United, like everybody else, is searching for answers.
“You need a little bit of luck and need that bounce,” he said. “Once you get one, you kind of relax and the rest start coming, but it is frustrating now.”
It was the 10th time this season that the Union have been shutout. Adding insult to injury, United’s goal was scored by the Union’s leading scorer.
Lionard Pajoy, who was traded to United on Aug. 16, still shares the Union lead in goals, with five. Gabriel Gomez also has five goals.
McInerney and Antoine Hoppenot often provide energy and their share of chances and it happened again against United. After the game Hoppenot reminded everybody how young these key players are. McInerney turned 20 in August. Hoppenot will be 22 in November.
The question is, are they too young to be assuming such a prominent role?
Actually, age doesn’t factor as much as skill level. Both McInerney and Hoppenot are change-of-pace players, but it’s hard to look at either as a team’s top scoring option. At least a team that wants to compete in the postseason.
That is not a knock on either player, but a realistic assessment that the Union must find a top finisher. This is not exactly breaking news.
It says here that Freddy Adu could a competent finisher, but he has had an inconsistent season with inconsistent playing time. He is still one of the few Union players willing to take on defenders.
Roger Torres is another.
Neither Adu nor Torres is known for defense, but right now this team needs scoring. And it might be a good idea just to pair them together and see what they can do.
Not much else is working, so Hackworth has to keep trying to find the right combinations in the final seven games.
Then again, reality has probably set in, which means the Union’s next big finisher, is not on this current roster.