DC United got a rare determined defensive effort and came away from Robinson Stadium in Houston, Texas with a tough 0-0 draw and a point closer to the last playoff spot.
With two matches remaining in their MLS season, United trail both Kansas City and New York for the final playoff spot.
Tonight’s match was never going to be a thing of beauty as far as United was concerned. They were missing their top four skill players in the injured trio of Marcelo Gallardo, Fred and Luciano Emilio and suspended captain Jaime Moreno.
The match never really got going from an attacking standpoint from either team as both teams struggled to maintain possession on the bumby pitch at Robinson Stadium and decent scoring chances were few and far between for both sides.
While the video of this match will not be sent to the Soccer Hall of Fame anytime soon, it wasn’t without any action. After a rather forgetful opening half the match began to pick up a very physical tone. All eight of the yellow cards were handed out in the final 40 minutes of the match highlighted by Bryan Namoff’s sending off in the 73rd minute. This is the third United player sent off in the last four league matches after having only one player sent off in the prior twenty three matches.
United were very fortunate not to be down to 9 men just a few minutes later when their wandering goalkeeper Louis Crayton seemed to have deliberately handled the ball outside the box. Replays were inconclusive but it did appear as though Crayton did get a piece of Dwayne De Rosario’s chip attempt.
Crayton helped preserve the shutout with a stoppage time save on a De Rosario header. Crayton was instrumental in this match with his often criticized aggression in and out of the penalty area. Also a key note to this match was the impressive MLS debut of Craig Janicki in central defense for United. Janicki had started the last two CONCACAF Champions League matches and Soehn felt he deserved the nod over veteran defender Gonzalo Martinez.
United now faces a must win situation in their last home match of the regular season this Thursday on national television against rival New England Revolution. The Revs are without emotional leader Steve Ralston who unfortunately suffered a broken leg on Saturday night against the Kansas City Wizards.
Good news is on the horizon for United as they will get Jaime Moreno back from his suspension and most likely will get back Luciano Emilio to the starting lineup. Emilio was on the bench and was planning on playing until the late red card from Namoff.