United drop second straight match with 1-0 loss in Orlando

Orlando, Florida, June 14, 2015 – D.C. United has reached the midway point of the 2015 MLS season in first place, but tonight’s 1-0 loss to Orlando City SC at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida suggests something other than tangible progress as the Black-and-Red dropped their second game in a row.

Armed with a four-point lead in the Eastern Conference over the New England Revolution, United (8-5-5, 28 points) still has played at least two more games than most of their conference opponents to this point in the season. With a seemingly rare full week of training and rest for United, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference as they wilted in the heat and humidity in Central Florida.

Orlando City (5-5-5, 20 points) jumped into third place in the East by virtue of their win tonight and are on a 5-game unbeaten run. Kaka, the man who runs the show in Orlando for the Lions was the difference maker this evening though in controversial fashion. In the 28th minute United defender Taylor Kemp was adjudged to have fouled Orlando City forward Pedro Ribeiro who was chasing down a failed clearance from Steve Birnbaum after Bill Hamid had just pulled off a stunning save on Ribeiro.

The controversy doesn’t lie in the penalty call from referee Jose Carlos Rivero as much as a clear non-call on a high foot right in the face of Davy Arnaud from Ribeiro just seconds before he took his shot on Hamid. That non-call began the fateful sequence of events that ultimately ended up with Kaka heading in his own penalty-saved shot off of a save from Hamid to give the home side a 1-0 lead before a sweaty and raucous crowd of 30,054 fans.

United had plenty of time to turn the deficit around as United are MLS’ best team in doing so (4-4-1 when giving up the first goal this season) and felt they should have had the opportunity to do so in the final minute of the first half. On a rare United corner kick, midfielder Perry Kitchen was essentially rugby tackled from behind by Orlando City fullback Luke Boden at the penalty spot but Rivero either didn’t notice the play or simply refused to give United a penalty claim.

After the break it was United who took it to the Lions by pushing numbers up into attack but as has been the case for a great deal of the season, United couldn’t get any quality looks on goal or the necessary service to level the match. The best of United’s chances was a Conor Doyle drive that he sliced just past the far post late in the match after being set up beautifully by Fabian Espindola. United only had two shots on goal for the match and both of them came from long distance and never really threatened Orlando City goalkeeper Tally Hall.

With the loss, United now has fallen on their worst patch of play of the season. Not surprising considering the amount of games the team has had to play in the past six weeks. United is 2-4-1 in their last seven matches and are in danger of being caught by the rest of the Eastern Conference. The task of turning around their league form begins next Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Revolution to RFK Stadium for a nationally televised (ESPN2) match on Fathers Day at 5pm.

Before that however United will play the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in U.S. Open Cup play on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. It is expected that Ben Olsen will send his reserves to this match in order to rest up his players for the league match on Sunday.

 

United Notes

  • Chris Pontius (hip), Sean Franklin (ankle), Michael Farfan (hamstring) and Facundo Coria (unknown ailment) all remained back in DC and did not make the trip to Florida
  • Markus Halsti was with Finland over the weekend as they lost 1-0 to Hungary in a Euro 2016 qualifier. Halsti is expected to be back in D.C. by Tuesday. It’s unknown whether he will be included on the bus that will travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night for their 4th Round match up with the Riverhounds in the U.S. Open Cup
Sebastian Giovinco (right) scored a pair of highlight-reel goals to lead Toronto FC to a 2-1 win over D.C. United tonight at RFK Stadium before a season-high 17, 105 disappointed fans. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United’s 20-game unbeaten run at RFK ends with 2-1 loss to Toronto FC

Washington D.C., June 6, 2015 – Sebastian Giovinco (right) scored a pair of highlight-reel goals to lead Toronto FC to a 2-1 win over D.C. United tonight at RFK Stadium before a season-high 17, 105 disappointed fans. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

The loss for United (8-4-4, 28 points) was their first at RFK since dropping a 1-0 decision to the Seattle Sounders on June 28th of last season, nearly a full calendar year. Toronto (6-5-1, 19 points) came into the match missing two of it’s high-priced Designated Players in Michael Bradley (away on International duty with U.S.) and Jozy Altidore (injured but made a late game appearance) but it was the third and arguably most talented of the trio that did the damage tonight.

United turned the tables on their recent form of starting matches slow out of the gate and should have been up 2-0 inside the first six minutes of the match. Fabian Espindola’s 22-yard angled chip to the far post easily eluded TFC goalkeeper Chris Konopka but hit the post and bounded away. However, just a minute later United were ahead thanks once again to Espindola. His corner kick was volleyed into the net from six yards by defender Steve Birngbaum for his first-ever MLS goal and the early 1-0 lead.

That was pretty much the extent of United’s danger on the night. Toronto quickly regained the tempo and took it to the Black-and-Red and if not for a number of good saves from Andrew Dykstra (filling in for a hobbled Bill Hamid for a second straight match) the match could have gotten quickly out of hand. It was the “Atomic Ant” Giovinco who ultimately would be the difference. Right from the start United didn’t seem to have anyone capable of shutting down the diminutive Italian forward.

Giovinco leveled the match in the 34th minute when he received a pass deep inside United’s penalty area. Sean Franklin quickly got in position to defend him, or so we were lead to believe, but he was easily spun out of position and Giovinco fired just past the head of Dykstra from a tough angle for his sixth goal of the season.

After the break United regained control of the match but as has been the case for most of the season, United struggled to break down TFC’s compact defense. The final ball was severely lacking all game long as United didn’t even register a shot on goal for the second half of play despite dominating possession. TFC took a page from United’s recent playbook in coming from behind and winning when Giovinco scored a stunning game-winning goal in the 83rd minute. A very lazy turnover from substitute Luis Silva just inside United’s half of the field powered the counter attack for the winning strike. Midfielder Benoit Cheyrou easily dispossessed Silva and spotted Giovinco who turned and ran directly at United’s goal. With Bobby Boswell in retreat Giovinco unleashed a 30-yard blast the easily beat Dykstra to give the visitors the shock 2-1 lead.

United did put forth a decent effort to try and get the equalizer and they should have had it in the 90th minute but could not come up with the final touch to get it done. Goalkeeper Chris Konopka came out to challenge Birnbaum on a free kick and whiffed on the clearance. The loose ball fell right to Silva who’s rushed angled attempt failed badly. The ball fell into the path of Davy Arnaud who took a settling touch but his left-footed attempt to strike also whiffed and United was out of chances after that as the visitors easily killed off the remainder of stoppage time.

United has now ended their most brutal string of games they had to play this season in a 7-games in 25-day stretch. With constant shuffling of the lineups due to injury, short rest and suspensions, United actually managed to increase their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference but will look at tonight’s match against a weakened TFC as an opportunity lost to increase their lead.

United now will finally have a full week of training ahead of their match a week from Sunday in Orlando against the Lions. This match will be televised live on FoxSports1 at 7pm EST.

 

Conor Doyle celebrates his goal against the visiting fire with DC United mid fielder Fabian Espindola

Espindola return sparks United to 3-1 win over Chicago

Washington, D.C., June 4 – Jairo Arreita bagged two goals and Fabian Espindola dished out two assists as D.C. United stormed back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to race past the Chicago Fire in last night’s 3-1 victory at RFK Stadium. Conor Doyle added his first goal of the season to complete United’s fourth win of the season after giving up the opening goal. United (8-3-4, 28 points) only won one match last season after giving up the first goal and have extended their lead in the Eastern Conference to seven points over the New England Revolution.

For what seems to be an alarming trend recently, United started out slowly once again and were in trouble in the 26th minute when Steve Birnbaum inexplicably reached out and handled a ball in the penalty area as United were under pressure. Birnbaum got the start at an unfamiliar left-back as Taylor Kemp and Chris Korb were both unavailable due to injury. Bill Hamid and Chris Pontius also did not suit up for United who were already missing Chris Rolfe due to a suspension.

Jeff Larentowicz stepped up to take the penalty but Andrew Dykstra made an incredible diving save to his right to keep out the goal-bound shot. Bobby Boswell and Markus Halsti both snapped to attention and swept the ball out of play before any Fire player could pounce on the rebound. United thought they were off the hook but just 60 seconds later the Fire would take the lead when Quincy Amarikwa’s pass from the left flank found speedy striker David Accam and the Ghanaian’s one-touch redirect flashed past Dykstra for a 1-0 lead.

United once again failed to create much of anything through the first half and most of it had to do with yet another batch of changes to the lineup as United are at the tail end of a 5-game in 15-day stretch of play. Head coach Ben Olsen though had a few tricks up his sleeve and the biggest and best one was named Fabian Espindola who was making his return back to the team after sitting out a month with a deep bruise to his knee.

Espindola came on after the break the tone of the match changed completely as United seemed more focused and picked up their pace of play. That urgency paid off in the 61st minute when Espindola’s perfectly whipped in cross from a corner kick met the head of Arrieta who snapped a header inside the far post to level match at 1-1. Just eight minutes later United would take the lead for good with a bit a good fortune. Arrieta was attempting a give-and-go with Nick DeLeon deep in the Fire’s penalty area when defender Lovel Palmer seemed to have thwarted the dangerous combination. However, the Jamiacan’s sliding challenge redirected the ball right back to Arrieta who’s one-time right footed blast easily beat Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch. The goal was the fifth of the season for Arrieta who has taken the team lead over Chris Rolfe in scoring.

Not to be undone, Espindola performed one more piece of magic to wrap up the night for United. In the 75th minute Espindola found himself deep in Fire territory hugging the left sideline. The crafty Argentine spotted a far post run from Conor Doyle and unleashed a worm-burner pass that hit Doyle just as he flashed in front of his defensive challenger and right in front of goal. Busch could only get a slight touch on the fall before the shot hit the roof of the net.

With United firmly in control, they saw out the remainder of the match with little difficulty as United cruised to back-to-back wins for the first time since beating Vancouver and Columbus a month ago.

Next up for United is a home match against Toronto FC this Saturday night at 7pm. This will be the end of United’s most grueling stretch of games of the season to date. United will most likely have most of their squad available as the injuries that forced Olsen’s changes tonight were a mixture of precaution and knowledge of another Eastern Conference game just three days away.

DC United's Chris Rolfe (18) keeps the ball away from Philadelphia's Vincent Nogueira during the second half of their team's match at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. United defeated the Union 2-1 with a Penalty Kick goal from Chris Rolfe. Photo Martin Fernandez.

Rolfe’s late PK is game-winner in 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union

Washington, D.C, May 30, 2015 – Chris Rolfe’s 85th minute penalty kick conversion pushed D.C. United to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Philadelphia Union in front of 16,284 sweaty fans tonight at RFK Stadium.

After giving up a 5th minute goal for the second game running, it was looking like D.C. United was heading for a fourth consecutive match without a victory. However, Chris Pontius’ stoppage-time goal in the first half leveled the match and Rolfe’s spot kick conversion turned the match around for the Black-and-Red.

Sebastian Le Toux’s goal just five minutes into the match gave the visitors the shock lead. United defender Steve Birnbaum was a bit casual in clearing a ball deep in the penalty area and he coughed the ball up to Andrew Wenger. Wenger quickly slipped the ball to his right where a wide-open Le Toux hammered his shot past an onrushing Bill Hamid for the 1-0 lead.

The Union should have doubled their lead midway through the first half but Wenger’s left-footed drive from 15 yards beat Hamid but crashed off the crossbar before being cleared out by United’s scrambling defense.

The Union were made to pay for that miss in stoppage time when Taylor Kemp’s pinpoint cross met Chris Pontius who’s powerful header snapped past Union goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre to level the match. For Kemp it was his team-leading 4th assist of the season but he would limp off with a suspected groin injury late in the match. Pontius’ goal was his second of the season.

After the break, both teams traded patches of possession with neither team really coming close to scoring until the final fifteen minutes of the match.

Just a minute before Rolfe was sent to the penalty spot, Nick DeLeon hit a thunderbolt that was ticketed for the near side upper netting that was well saved by Silvestre to keep the teams at 1-1. This was DeLeon’s first appearance since injuring his hamstring against Columbus at the begging of May.

Chris Korb, on for the injured Kemp, sent a diagonal ball to the far side of the penalty area when Philadelphia substitute Zach Pfeffer seemed to inadvertently handle the cross. The linesman immediately signaled the infraction and Rolfe stepped up and sent his penalty kick to the right of Sylvestre and send United to their first win since a 2-1 win over Orlando City SC on May 13th.

From there United easily kept the visitors at bay save for a close call when C.J. Sapong’s header in the 90th minute looped just over the crossbar.

With United in the midst of a 5 game in 14 day stretch of games, head coach Ben Olsen once again moved his lineup around.

Rolfe, Pontius, Davy Arnaud and Sean Franklin were all left in D.C. this past week as the team took a lighter roster out for their eventual 1-0 loss in Portland on Wednesday night.

With another match on Wednesday at home against the Chicago Fire and another match next Saturday night against Toronto FC, Olsen did confirm that more roster rotation will happen to help alleviate the crush of matches.

Wednesday night’s match will be televised live on CSN at 7pm.

Short-staffed United falls 1-0 in Portland

Portland, Oregon, May 27, 2015 – The script was almost written before kickoff of D.C. United’s match last night against Portland Timbers FC.

3 road games in 8 days, the last two on Field Turf – check

5,000 mile mid-week round trip to Portland – check

4 injured regulars (Fabian Espindola, Nick DeLeon, Michael Farfan, Luis Silva) – check

4 regular starters (Chris Pontius, Chris Rolfe, Davy Arnaud, Sean Franklin) left back in D.C. – check

2 more starters (Bobby Boswell, Perry Kitchen) on the bench to start the match – check

 

That United almost came out of Cascadia with a valuable point in their 1-0 loss last night was about as much as one could reasonably expect given the list of excuses referenced above.

United fell behind in the 5th minute when Taylor Kemp’s giveaway led directly to a quick strike from Max Urruti, the man who also had the game-winner in stoppage time last year against United at Providence Park.

United (6-3-4, 22 points) remains in first place in the Eastern Conference and the Supporters Shield standings despite the loss (their third consecutive game without a win) and the Timbers (4-5-4, 16 points) extend their winning streak to two matches, lifting themselves off the bottom of the Western Conference.

Head coach Ben Olsen made seven changes to the lineup coming off of last Saturday’s 1-1 draw in New England and with the crush of matches and travel bearing down on the team, the moves were necessitated and saw a patchwork lineup that gave season debuts to Luke Mishu and Jarred Jeffrey in midfield. The match also saw the return of Steve Birnbaum to the lineup after a two-month injury layoff.

Markus Halsti, Miguel Aguilar and Conor Doyle also saw their second starts of the season and to no one’s surprise the Black-and-Red struggled out of the gate with their fractured lineup. The Timbers took full advantage of that in the 5th minute when Kemp failed to deal with an initial defense of a pass to the corner and he got stripped of the ball. Gaston Fernandez quickly scooped up the loose ball and sent it square across the goal mouth just behind United’s defense where Urriti was waiting all alone at the back post. The Argentine striker easily pushed it past Bill Hamid for the quick 1-0 lead.

It took United about 20-25 more minutes to finally grab a foot-hold in the match and should have equalized in the 31st minute but Birnbaum’s header from six yards away on a corner kick somehow eluded the open goal after Timbers keeper Adam Kwarasey was caught out of position.

United created two other half-chances before the halftime whistle when Jairo Arrieta’s bid was blocked inside the penalty area and Conor Doyle’s shot from 18 yards straight out flew just over the crossbar.

After the break however it was United who would begin to grab hold of the match but failed to put together any meaningful chances to test Kwarasey. On the other end of the field though Bill Hamid was putting on a goalkeeping clinic in keeping the Timbers from extending their lead. With United pushing numbers forward to find an equalizer, it was the Timbers who were counter attacking with relish and nearly got their insurance goal if not for Hamid.

Hamid made consecutive stops on former United midfielder Rodney Wallace and Dairon Asprilla within a minute and then followed up minutes later with a sensational kick save on Asprilla late in the match.

It was not to be though as United just didn’t have enough cohesion and experience on the field to gain a valuable equalizer. The narrative coming out of this match is that despite the huge number of first-team players not involved in the match, Ben Olsen can take a few performances from individual players and use that moving forward as United will now have a trio of home matches in short order (yet another 3 games in 3 games in 8 day stretch) when they host Philadelphia (Saturday, May 30- 7pm), Chicago (Wednesday, June 3 – 7 pm) and Toronto FC (Saturday, June 6 – 7pm) in the upcoming week.

Wow, someone at United must have really cheesed off the league scheduler.

 

DC United second half substitute Chris Rolfe beats Orlando City's second half sub Tyler Turner to the ball. The shot would give United the in over Orlando City to extend the Black-and-Red's unbeaten streak to 8 games. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Substitutes key comeback as United down Orlando City 2-1

Washington, D.C., May 13, 2015 – “Better late then never” was the phrase bandied about in the Press Box tonight as D.C. United came from behind to defeat expansion side Orlando City SC 2-1 before 12,532 fans at RFK Stadium tonight.

Kofi Opare and Chris Rolfe scored nine minutes apart late in the second half to turn around an 11th minute deficit to extend the Black-and-Red’s unbeaten run to 8 matches in league play and an astounding 18 games unbeaten in all competitions going back to June of 2014. With the win United (6-1-3, 21 points) vaulted to the top of the Eastern Conference and all of MLS with the win. Orlando City (2-5-3, 9 points) remain in a three-way tie for fifth place with Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire.

It was the visitors however that would take a surprising lead in the 11th minute. On essentially their first foray into United territory, the Lions took advantage of multiple failed clearances by United’s defense from a free kick as the ball eventually made it to the foot of rookie striker Cyle Larin. The #1 overall pick in the 2015 MLS Superdraft immediately struck the loose ball into the far side netting past a helpless Bill Hamid for the the unexpected 1-0 lead.

United seemed stunned by the goal and continued to play as if in a fog throughout the remainder of the first half. United were easily controlling the tempo but could not put together that final ball to even threaten Orlando City’s goal as United ended up with no shots on goal through the first half.

Part of that could have been the three changes head coach Ben Olsen made to the lineup as he gave starts to Luis Silva (his first of the season), Michael Farfan and Taylor Kemp. As United are in the midst of a three games in eight day stretch, the changes to the lineup made logical sense but the results were not impressive as United struggled to string together any cohesion offensively.

All that changed in the second half when Olsen quickly brought on attackers Chris Rolfe, Jairo Arrieta and Miguel Aguilar. All three players played key roles in setting up and scoring the goals for United. In the 69th minute, it was Aguilar’s fearless run straight at the ineffective Orlando City midfield that drew a foul about 40 yards from goal. Taylor Kemp’s ensuing free kick was expertly lofted to the far post where Kofi Opare out jumped an Orlando City defender and nodded the ball to the far post for his first goal with United and leveled the match at 1-1.

Just nine minutes later United would get the game-winner from arguably the team MVP to this point in the season in Chris Rolfe. Davy Arnaud, who combined with Perry Kitchen to shut down Brazilian Designated Player Kaka all night long, won a ball and pushed it down the right flank to Arrieta who’s right-footed cross bent perfectly around the Orlando City defense where it met the outstretched left leg of Rolfe who redirected the ball past Orlando City goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

From there United easily saw out the remainder of the match easily possessing the ball and giving the visitors very few chances to threaten Hamid and United coasted to the victory.

United now embarks on a three-game road trip beginning Sunday night when they visit the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Union at 7pm EST. This match will be televised live on Fox Sports 1. United will wrap up their difficult road trip with a game against New England on May 23rd and then take on the Portland Timbers on short rest (and 3,000 miles away) on Wednesday, May 27th before returning home for a rematch against Philadelphia at RFK on May 30th.

United Notes

  • Midfielder/Defender Markus Halsti made the 18-man roster for the first time this season but did not make an appearance. Olsen stated after the match that Halsti stood a good chance of getting big minutes over the weekend against the Philadelphia Union.
  • Fabian Espindola did not make the 18-man roster for the second straight match after picking up a knock against the Columbus Crew SC ten days ago. His status is still day-to-day.
  • United pulled off their second win of the season after giving up the first goal. United only won one match all of last season after giving up the first goal

DC United Forward Jairo Arrieta celebrates his go ahead goal against visiting Sporting KC. Photo: Martin Fernandez

Unbeaten run reaches seven games as United and Sporting KC battle to a 1-1 draw

Washington, D.C., May 9, 2015 – Jairo Arrieta’s first half goal staked D.C. United to a late first-half lead against the run of play but that was not enough to hold up as Sporting Kansas City equalized just two minutes later as the teams played to a 1-1 draw tonight at RFK Stadium. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United (5-1-3, 18 points) jumped back into a tie at the top of the Eastern Conference with the New England Revolution who briefly jumped ahead of the Black-and-Red by virtue of their 2-2 draw last night in Orlando.

Arrieta, filling in for an injured Fabian Espindola, scored his second goal of the season finishing off a nice set up from Chris Pontius in the 43rd minute. With the visitors claiming most of the possession and scoring chances up to this point, it was the hustle of Perry Kitchen that set United into the lead.

Kitchen’s high pressure forced a bad turnover that seconds later made it back to him and he sent a diagonal ball to the far side of the box where Pontius chested the ball down and cut the ball back directly into the path of Arrieta who beat Sporting defender Matt Besler to the pass and side-footed the shot inside the far post.

However, United fell asleep just two minutes later and Sporting equalized through Dom Dwyer’s cool finish just before the halftime whistle, much to the dismay of head coach Ben Olsen.

After the break United seized control of the match and created numerous chances to take the lead but could never find that final ball or final pass to put away their former Eastern Conference foes.

A big key to the match was the surprising exclusion of Fabian Espindola due to a knock received during the Columbus match last weekend. Espindola came to training through the week sporting significant bruising and just wasn’t able to go. Olsen said after the match that the team is being cautious with Espindola and other players and not rushing them back into the lineup, even though a heavy crush of games awaits the squad through the remainder of May.

United will end their three-game home stand when they entertain Orlando City SC on Wednesday night at 8pm. This match will be televised nationally on ESPN2

 

 

DC United's Fabian Espiondola shoots past the Crew's Steve Clark to give United the lead. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United extends unbeaten run to six after 2-0 victory over Columbus

Washington, D.C., May 2, 2015 – To say D.C. United missed Fabian Espindola through their first six MLS league matches is an obvious understatement after his dazzling performance tonight in D.C. United’s 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew SC tonight at RFK Stadium.

Espindola, making his home debut for United this season, had a goal (above photo: Martin Fernandez) and an assist to lead United to their fifth victory in eight matches on the young season. United (5-1-2, 17 points) extended their unbeaten run to 6 games this season and unbeaten in 14 games going back to June of last year. Columbus (3-3-2, 11 points) remains in fourth place in Eastern Conference while United sits atop the division.

Despite giving up the territorial edge thru the first quarter hour of the match, it was United who struck first on a lightning-quick  counter attack in the 15th minute.  Chris Rolfe picked up a clearance from a Crew SC corner kick and bolted upfield. Rolfe’s pinpoint pass found Espindola in alone behind the Crew defense and the Argentine sniper easily beat goalkeeper Steven Clark for his first goal of the season.

Just three minutes later Espindola should have doubled the advantage but it was Clark’s turn to make the big play by stopping Fabi at point-blank range.

In the 41st minute Espindola made up for the close miss when he became provider for Sean Franklin’s back post tap-in on a corner kick to put the Black-and-Red up by 2-0. Espindola’s curling ball drifted past everyone in the penalty area and hit Franklin all alone for the easy side-footed finish into the empty net.

After the break the visitors understandably took it to United and nearly cut the lead in half when Federico Higuain’s  diving header when inches wide of the near post in the 53rd minute. After that narrow miss, United started to grab a better foothold of the match and nearly extended the lead to 3-0 in the 63rd minute when Chris Korb set Chris Pontius free down the left flank. Pontius’ cross into the goalmouth was scrambled out by the Columbus defense just a fraction before United substitute Michael Farfan could poke it into the goal.

That defensive effort seemed to energize the Crew as they nearly scored twice in quick succession. The first chance came via a lazy turnover from United in the offensive half of the field that set Columbus on their own lightning-quick counter. Kei Kamara’s pass behind the retreating United defense almost found the sliding foot of Ethan Finlay but the chance went begging. Seconds later Kristinn Steindorrsson’s volley shaved just wide of the far post.

Columbus, who dominated possession most of the evening while United were perfectly happy to sting on the counter, continued to apply the pressure and pinned United down in their own end for essentially the last fifteen minutes of the match. However, as has been the case for most of this young season, United fended off the late surge and did what they failed to do in their last two home matches – close out the match.

United will now turn their attention to their match against Sporting Kansas City at RFK next weekend.

United Notes

  •  Bill Hamid returned to the lineup and picked up his fourth shutout in six games. Before that on Friday Hamid signed a multi-year extension on his contract that will reportedly pay him approximately $350,000 per season according to multiple sources. Hamid was in the final year of his contract that he signed as a Homegrown Player in 2010.

United, Dynamo settle for 1-1 draw at RFK

Washington, D.C., April 18, 2015 – Chris Rolfe’s first-half wonder strike was cancelled out by a second-half Ricardo Clark goal as D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo battled to a 1-1 draw tonight at RFK Stadium in front of 13,047 fans.

United (3-1-2, 11 points) jumped into a tie at the top of the Eastern Conference with rivals New York Red Bull with the result while the Dynamo (2-2-3, 9 points) remain in the middle of a wide-open Western Conference. The draw also extend’s the Black-and-Red’s current run to four games unbeaten (two wins and two draws) ahead of a very nasty 3,000 mile trip to Vancouver next weekend to play against arguably the leagues fastest team and their concrete Field Turf surface.

United struggled right out of the gate and had trouble dealing with the Dynamo’s physical style. It was the visitors in fact who had the lions share of opportunities in the first half hour if not for a pair of Andrew Dykstra saves in net for United.  Dykstra, subbing in for the injured Bill Hamid, was last seen for United giving up more than his share of the five goals allowed in their 5-2 loss to Alajuelense in Costa Rica in late February.

Dykstra kept United in the game and they finally broke through to take the lead in the 36th minute. Jairo Arrieta did well to control a pass and turn his Dynamo defender as he was heading towards goal in the middle of the field. Arrieta was then bulled over just outside the penalty area and Chris Rolfe stepped up to take the ensuing free kick. Rolfe hit a 22-yard curling rocket around the Dynamo wall and into the far corner of the net for his first goal of the year. Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric did well to get a slight touch on the shot before it ricocheted off the far post and in.

After the break, Dynamo coach Owen Coyle finally realized he had a bona fide United killer among his substitutes and called on Will Bruin to the field. The burly striker has scored 9 career goals against United and true to form he instantly started creating havoc for the Dynamo. While United did manage to keep Bruin off the score sheet, he was instrumental in the Dynamo creating numerous opportunities to level the match. Just minutes after a Giles Barnes shot careened off the post, the Dynamo did finally tie the match in the 65th minute.

Brad Davis’ cross from the left flank met Bruin’s near post run and his flash header forced a tremendous reflex save from Dykstra only to see the rebound carom right in front of goal where United’s defense once again were slow to react as Ricardo Clark beat Taylor Kemp to the rebound and slammed the ball into the empty net. The goal was a cruel reminder of last weekend’s rebound from a Bill Hamid botched attempt to save a goal bound shot only to see another United killer Lloyd Sam pounce and take three points away from United.

United wasn’t without their opportunities to re-take the lead but most of their efforts were long range shots or hopeful crosses that just couldn’t be met with the appropriate accuracy. United struggled all night long to put the finishing touches on any of their offensive moves and on another night Chris Pontius may have gotten that game-winner but he seemed to make the wrong decision at the critical moment on several occasions that killed United attacks. Davy Arnaud just mistimed his leap on a Taylor Kemp cross only to see it go inches over his head as he was alone inside the six-yard box. Kemp once again was the provider on a ball that DeLeon volleyed over the bar from the same distance just a few minutes later.

United’s last chance however came in stoppage time when Deric palmed over a looping header from Bobby Boswell from a corner kick and that ended any threat from both sides as they shared the spoils.

United now turn their attention to the Vancouver Whitecaps and a meeting at B.C. Place next Saturday night. United will finally welcome back striker Fabian Espindola to the squad after serving his six-game suspension from the beginning of the season. United only lost one of their six games without their leading scorer and will look to gain their first ever win in Vancouver.

 

United Notes

  • Hamid was left out of the squad for precautionary measures. Interestingly enough, it was confirmed after the match by head coach Ben Olsen that his thigh contusion was suffered in the Red Bull match last weekend. If this was the case, why did United allow him to train and travel with the U.S. National Team for their 2-0 victory over Mexico earlier this week? Hmmmm…
  • Miguel Aguilar finally made an appearance for United coming on for the final 15 minutes. Aguilar had played in the opener against Montreal but has not played since.
  • Olsen did bemoan the fact that back-to-back draws were “frustrating” in the midst of a 5-out-of-6 game stretch of games at RFK, beginning with last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Red Bull
Perry Kitchen (pictured) rises above the fray to score the first of his two goals tonight against Red Bull. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United squanders two-goal lead in 2-2 draw with Red Bulls

Perry Kitchen (pictured) rises above the fray to score the first of his two goals tonight against Red Bull. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

No one is denying the fortune that has come D.C. United’s way through the first five weeks of the season. Back-to-back stoppage-time wins in the past two weeks have painted over some issues, particularly on the offensive side of things through the opening five weeks of the MLS campaign.

Tonight however the visiting New York Red Bulls flipped the script and grabbed a stoppage-time goal to secure a two-goal comeback in tonight’s 2-2 draw with United before 16,304 fans at RFK Stadium.

Lloyd Sam, quickly ascending to the top of the United Killers list, pounced on a Bill Hamid spill of a Sacha Kjlestan free kick from 30 yards away in the 91st minute to spoil what had been United’s best 90-minute performance of the season.

Perry Kitchen bagged both of United’s goals on the night, the first via a Taylor Kemp corner kick in the 26th minute and then a 23-yard laser to beat Luis Robles in the 67th minute to stake United to it’s first two-goal lead of the season.

That feeling lasted all of sixty seconds as United (3-1-1, 10 points) allowed Red Bull (2-0-2, 8 points) to cut the lead in half when defender Damien Perrinelle went relatively unchallenged to head home a corner kick of his own.

United seemed to have squelched the Red Bull comeback until a Luis Silva foul in the 89th minute set up the game-tying sequence. Kjlestan stepped up and hit a dipping shot over the wall that normally would be handled easily by a goalkeeper of Bill Hamid’s stature, however Hamid spilled the shot in front of goal and Sam beat Taylor Kemp to the ball and slammed it home for his second goal against United this season. Sam has scored three goals in four league games against United going back to late last season.

Even with the disappointing finish, United remains alone atop the Eastern Conference and welcome former conference foes the Houston Dynamo to town next Saturday night. Additionally, it will be the last game for Fabian Espindola to serve his six-game suspension imposed by the league for his physical confrontation with an official as United were eliminated by Red Bull last November.

Espindola will be a welcomed face to the lineup when they travel to Vancouver in two weeks time.