D.C. United was five minutes of stoppage time away from a rare three-game winning streak and tying the Columbus Crew atop the Eastern Conference standings. Hector Jimenez had other ideas when his bending shot in the 90th minute tied the match and left United crestfallen after their best 90-minute performance to date in the young season. United, seeking a bit of payback after suffering a tough 3-0 defeat to the Crew to open the season, were determined to keep their winning streak alive. They will have to settle for a now modes four-game unbeaten run.
Fabian Espindola scored his second goal of the season to put United on top in the 31st minute and despite allowing the home side Crew plenty of possession, it was United who were generating most of the dangerous chances.
Nick DeLeon’s high pressure forced a tough touch from the normally reliable Federico Higuain and DeLeon was off to the races. DeLeon allowed Eddie Johnson to run underneath him on his right which opened up room for Espindola who took one touch and rifled the ball over the shoulder of Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Espindola could have and should have doubled United’s lead just two minutes into the second half. Chris Rolfe blew through an attempted tackle by Michael Parkhurst at midfield and United had a two-on-one break. Rolfe’s pass easily beat Giancarlo Gonzalez and hit Espindola in stride but the Argentine striker failed to control the ball on his less preferred right foot. United continued to allow the Crew most of the possession, but unlike last weeks match against Red Bull, United counter punched effectively. It was in the 71st minute that controversy reared it’s ugly head.
Eddie Johnson did well to poke a ball loose and was off towards the Crew goal with Parkhurst and Gonzalez frantically chasing him down. Gonzalez caught up to Johnson at the edge of the penalty area and wrestled him to the ground. Amazingly however, Gonzalez was only shown a yellow card when a red card for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity should have been the call. However just ten minutes later some sort of justice was served when Bernardo Anor was shown a straight red card for a violent studs-up tackle on Perry Kitchen.
None the less United continued to forge ahead and should have doubled the lead once again when their three-on-two break was poorly played by Espindola in the 89th minute. The resulting turnover led a fast and desperate counter from the Crew. Midfielder Will Trapp hit Hector Jimenez in stride and his bending effort from 18-yards out tucked just inside the far post for an unlikely equalizer.
United, clearly frustrated with their lack of killer instinct throughout the match, pushed forward for the game-winner but to no avail and walked away from Columbus with a valuable but hardly inspiring road point.
United now will turn their attention to the other league leader when they host FC Dallas next Saturday night at RFK Stadium. Game time is at 7pm EST