It doesn’t matter if the match was played on the parking lot formerly known as Rice-Eccles Stadium or the beautifully manicured pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium, the result was the same. A loss for D.C. United. While United didn’t have the comical implosion of the 4-0 loss last season or the two penalty kicks in stoppage time fiasco of three seasons ago, they still couldn’t get the job done tonight in Sandy, Utah.
Javier Morales’ 82nd minute goal was the game-winner tonight as United gave up the lead for the third time in four matches this season. Luciano Emilio scored for the third consecutive game to give United the lead in the 38th minute off of more good work from rookie Chris Pontius. Fred, making his first start of the season, made an overlapping run and pulled a ball back into the box for Pontius. While the rookie had every right to launch a first time shot on goal, Pontius chipped a beautiful ball onto the head of Emilio who easily beat both the defender and Nick Rimando for the 1-0 lead. The lead didn’t last long however as another defensive blunder gave Real Salt Lake the equalizer just minutes before halftime.
Fred was slow in closing down winger Will Johnson and he was allowed to whip in a cross into the middle of the penalty area that RSL defender Jamison Olave beat the United defense to. The ball ricocheted towards goalkeeper Louis Crayton who seemed suprised and reacted badly to the header and it slipped through his hands and off his upper body and into the net sending the teams to the locker tied at 1-1.
The second half started better for the visiting Black and Red with nice moments of possession that did little however to create any credible scoring chances. In fact, United only registered two shots on goal for the entire match, the second of which was a harmless shot that substitute Santino Quaranta got off in the 85th minute. While the possession game for United was working, that final pass in the last third of the field was missing most of the night. Meanwhile at the other end of the field RSL were fortunate not to take the lead earlier when Crofton native and famous United killer Kyle Beckerman rocked a shot off the crossbar that left Crayton with no chance only to see United rookie Rodney Wallace sweep the ball out of trouble.
However the game changed late on when RSL put together a beautiful sequence of passes to result in the game winning goal from Javier Morales. Will Johnson again was the chief architect and worked his way off the left flank into the middle of the park and sent a through ball to Robbie Findley who’s one-time backheel hit Morales perfectly in stride. The Argentine took one touch and slipped a ball to the right of Crayton just inside the goal to send Rio Tinto into a frenzy.
United didn’t mount much of an attack after that energy draining goal and their game long tactic of playing for the draw fizzled out and resulted in United’s fourth loss in a row in the state of Utah (three of which ended in 2-1 losses).
– Ben Olsen didn’t make the trip to Sandy. He stayed in Washingto to rest up for their next match against the New England Revolution. Jaime Moreno was already suspended with his red card from last weekends match against Houston. Greg Janicki didn’t make the game squad due to complications from his clash of heads with Devon McTavish in their opening match at the Galaxy. McTavish made his first appearance tonight since that incident.
– United will play the Revolution on a rare Friday night clash this week at RFK Stadium at 7pm. The match will be televised nationally on ESPN2