Washington, D.C., March 20, 2016 – D.C. United is still without a victory in 2016 but Fabian Espindola’s 80th minute strike salvaged a point in the home opening 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids tonight at RFK Stadium.
In a match that has come to define both teams in recent seasons, it wasn’t exactly Barca vs Real Madrid but the final twenty minutes had plenty of action that saw both teams earn a point. United (0-1-2, 2 points) fell behind on a Dillon Powers header in the 69th minute against the run of play. Although United had managed the tempo of the match to their liking through the first hour, it was once again set piece marking, or lack there of, that put United behind. Just a minute before the Rapids got the opener, United should have taken the lead when Lamar Neagle set up Steve Birnbaum beautifully in front of goal only to see his volley rocket over the goal.
On the ensuing run down the other end of the field Marco Pappa swung in a corner and Powers simply out hustled United and got to the ball first as Travis Worra was helpless to react in goal. It is the first goal Worra has given up in MLS, his second consecutive start and third game overall. Perhaps more ominous, it was the third set piece goal given up by United so far in three matches.
United responded well to the deficit and equalized in the 80th minute through substitute Fabian Espindola. Espindola, who has had a rather busy week after welcoming the birth of a daughter on Tuesday, got United level by finishing off a harried sequence in the penalty area after great initial service from left back Taylor Kemp.
The Maryland graduate whipped in his trademark left-footed cross that was misplayed by fellow Maryland alum goalkeeper Zac MacMath in the area where Patrick Nyarko pounced and sent a shot goal bound. Unfortunately former United defender Marc Burch nicely saved the ball off the line only to see it bounce straight to Espindola who took one touch before rifling a right-footed shot into the goal for his first goal of the season.
United very nearly took the lead just two minutes later when Espindola ripped a shot just over the crossbar from a tight angle and then set up Alvaro Saborio with a header attempt in front of goal only to see the shot weakly hit into the arms of MacMath.
Up next for United is a match on Saturday afternoon when FC Dallas comes to town. Both squads will be missing players for World Cup qualifiers being played over the next ten days.
- US goalkeeper Tim Howard was in the house today as he announced his signing with the Colorado Rapids, effective after the Premier League season ends in May. Howard will be eligible to play for the Rapids once the summer transfer window opens in June
- United will be missing defender Steve Birnbaum (USA) and most likely forward Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) for their match on Saturday against FC Dallas. FC Dallas will be missing up to seven players for World Cup qualifiers as well as the USA U-23 teams two-leg knockout round with Colombia starting early next week