WASHINGTON - Danny Califf knew the outcome the minute the ball left his boot.
It's why he laid face down on the pitch at RFK Stadium yesterday for a good 20 seconds while D.C. United forward Danny Allsopp celebrated at his expense.
In a 2-0 Union defeat, Allsopp netted his third and fourth goals of the season to become the second player in August to double his total goal count at the expense of the Union (Columbus' Steven Lenhart scored a pair in a 2-1 Crew win at PPL Park on Aug. 5).
On what looked to be an attempted clear in the 18-yard box, Califf misplayed a ball that landed right at the foot of Allsopp. A one-time blast to the near post found the Union down 1-0 in the 22nd minute.
"It's the worst feeling because you really feel like you let your team down," said Califf. "It was a routine clearance, one I've made a thousand times, and I just slipped when I went to hit it. It doesn't do a lot to sit and dwell on what you can't change. But I know that was a clearance I have to make."
Allsopp's second goal was yet another from point-blank range when a cross from Andy Najar found a wide-open Allsopp back post for the clincher. Najar took off down the right flank, served a low ball that appeared meant for forward Pablo Hernandez, who laid off and left a gift for Allsopp.
The win was United's first since June 10 and the first time a player other than Najar has scored for United since then. In addition, it was the first win for new D.C. coach Ben Olsen, a local product and former United midfielder, who took over after Curt Onalfo was relieved of the post Aug. 4.
"Honestly, it's been so long since we've had a win I forgot how it felt," said Olsen. "As you can see, and what I hope they saw, is that it takes all 11 guys to win a game. I played soccer in Philadelphia growing up, it was a big part of my youth, but it doesn't really matter who the team is, we really needed a win."
Torrential rains made a sloppy game even worse toward the end of the first half and the Union struggled to find a rhythm in the second. Overall, Union chances were slim in a game manager Peter Nowak described as "the worst performance" in his 8 months at the helm.
"There was no substance in the whole game today," said Nowak. "From the back, there was a simple mistake [in Califf's attempted clearance] we should have cleaned up and even more stuff that went wrong offensively. It was the worst performance I've [seen] in 8 months from this team and we have to be real about this situation, that this stuff is just not going to fly with me."
Nowak said he would go back to game film to reevaluate if personnel needs to be shifted for the Union's game at New England on Saturday.
The Union had a scare in the 85th minute when Sebastien Le Toux lay motionless after a knee-to-knee collision with United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Le Toux finished the contest, but was in visible pain postgame. He described the feeling as "a bruise that's real sore." Union trainer Paul Rushing was unavailable for comment, but it appeared Le Toux' frustration was less regarding his knee and more the bruising of confidence in a game where gaining three points in the standings seemed imminent.
"It's frustrating to have these little things be the reason why we can't win games," said Le Toux. "It seems like we are always playing from behind and that is getting annoying, especially when we have played so much better than we played today. We have a lot of things to fix before we go to New England, because I don't think we can dig ourselves a hole any deeper than it already is."