Ben Olsen was furious as DC United’s playoff hopes took a body blow when they let a two goal lead slip away at home allowing Chivas to tie the game in the second half, and DC even missed a stoppage time penalty kick that could have salvaged a victory, but instead United dropped another crucial two points at home.
Looking a bit confused and taken out of their game early on, United were fortunate to run out to a 2-0 lead from goals scored on either side of halftime. In the 39th minute, United scored their first headed goal of the season against the run of play as Dwayne De Rosario got on the end of Andy Najar’s free kick for his 10th goal of the year.
Then DC extended their lead with their first corner kick goal in over two years as Ethan White poked in his first professional goal when the ball fell right to him after De Rosario’s initial shot off a Quaranta corner kick was palmed away by Kennedy in the 47th minute.
However, after letting Chivas back into the match by allowing two Juan Pablo Angel goals, United got a golden chance to snatch a win as De Rosario drew a penalty kick in stoppage time. But unlike last year when DC pulled off a 3-2 win over Chivas in RFK with a stoppage time PK, this time Chivas goalkeeper, Dan Kennedy guessed right and smothered De Rosario’s spot kick to deal a severe blow to United’s playoff hopes.
DC United had defeated Chivas easily 10 days ago by a score of 3-0, but right from the start of the match tonight, United seemed confused and slow to react to a Chivas side that made some changes and went after the game with much more desperation.
Chivas coach Robin Fraser took a chance electing to go with an amorphous 4-5-1 lineup, by inserting Argentine playmaker Marcos Mondaini as well as dropping forward Alejandro Moreno into the midfield, to clog the center of the field and suffocate a speedy United team that had countered beautifully to cruise to an easy win in LA last week. And the changes paid off as Chivas dominated the midfield throughout the early parts of the match and United’s forwards barely saw the ball or if they did lost it too easily being under constant pressure.
United didn’t even get a shot on goal until the 31st minute when De Rosario was sent into the box by Santino Quaranta and rounded Heath Pearce easily only to have his tight angle shot stuffed by Kennedy staying big at the near post.
However, United weathered Chivas early pressure well as Hamid made a lovely diving save on a wicked curling shot by Mondaini and a more routine save on forward Alejandro Moreno’s long shot to keep United in the match, until Najar earned the free kick that put United ahead just before the half, and White extended the lead just two minutes after the start of the second half.
DC had a golden chance to potentially put the game away in the 53rd minute as perhaps DC’s best combination in the run of play saw Woolard bound down the left side, slide the ball wide to Quaranta, who crossed along the ground to Davies near the penalty spot and he laid off a perfect ball for Najar to turn onto with a decent look at goal, but his shot went right to Kennedy, and United barely threatened Chivas’ goal for the rest of the match until the stoppage time PK.
Unfortunately just after that United chance, Chivas brought in Justin Braun and later Laurent Curtois to change the dynamic of the match back in favor of Chivas right at the same time United took their foot off the gas making it that much easier for Chivas to regain control of the midfield and the match.
Angel got Chivas on the board with a classic finish over Perry Kitchen as Nick Labrocca was given way too much room on the right side, when DC defender Brandon McDonald slipped on the rain soaked pitch, to easily pick out the Colombian striker on the far post and he simply over powered the smaller Kitchen in the air to nod the ball past Bill Hamid and halve United’s lead.
That strike opened the floodgates for Chivas as United was completely overwhelmed with pressure for the next 10 minutes. Finally, Chivas broke through with the tying goal in the 69th minute as again Angel simply overpowers United’s defense. Justin Braun had kept alive a loose ball away from Najar and out wide to Ante Jazic, who floated a cross into Angel, well covered by McDonald, but as he blocked the Colombian’s volley, Angel was able to collect the ball again and use McDonald’s momentum against him spin back and make room to poke the ball past Hamid just before White could jump in to block.
Chivas had a chance to take all the points themselves in the 86th minute as Braun sprung Curtois behind the United defense and in alone on goal, but Hamid came up with a huge save to paw the shot away keeping United level and setting up the last minute fireworks.
In the 89th minute, United launched a long ball to De Rosario and he was simply leveled just outside the Chivas penalty area by defender Michael Umana, however referee Chris Penso didn’t call the obvious foul, but perhaps rued that decision and sought to rectify that omission a few minutes later as he called a penalty kick on Angel for a pretty light push in the back of De Rosario as Quaranta swung in a cross.
Last year, Carey Talley stepped up to a PK in the 92nd minute and beat Chivas, but this time De Rosario thought he had sent Kennedy the wrong way, but unfortunately he had guessed right and smothered another vital two points United will rue if they slip away from the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
After the match, United coach Ben Olsen voiced his displeasure at a United team that has struggled to compile points at home. The tie drops their home record to 3-3-7, where United held leads late in the match in all but two of those 7 draws.
DC hosts Real Salt Lake on Saturday before heading out on a 3 game road swing starting in Philadelphia, then Columbus, and Vancouver before hosting the final three matches of the regular season. Anything can happen in MLS, but DC’s playoff hopes took a bad blow tonight and the odds of them making it just got a lot longer.