Olsen’s stoppage time goal saves United’s blushes in 1-1 draw with the Revs

The statistics are there for all to see. D.C. United out shot the visitors 20-4, including 8 shots on goal to just 2 for the Revs. However, when you play Steve Nicol and his New England Revolution, statistics go out the window. More than any other team in recent MLS history, the Revs seem to pull results like tonight’s 1-1 draw with the Black and Red out of thin air. Undermanned and under talented, they somehow pull together and frustrate the Hell out of their opposition.

Tonight was no different as a Revolution team missing many starters including goalkeeper Matt Reis and forward Taylor Twellman, nearly stole three points from United with their calculated combination of timely goalkeeping, finished chances and most importantly,  impotence from the home side as United spent most of the night shooting just narrowly wide of the target.

Shalrie Joseph’s 50th minute header nearly was enough to get the win but not for the heroic efforts of United’s energetic talisman Ben Olsen. Olsen latched onto a Jaime Moreno free kick in stoppage time and forced his header off the chest of Chris Tierney and into the goal to send 14,441 fans into rapture at RFK Stadium. United nearly won the game just a minute later when substitute Fred got hold of a loose ball in midfield and fired a 25 yard volley that just missed the far post that would have given United the more than deserved three points it should have had this evening.

United started off flying all over the pitch creating numerous chances including Olsen’s first minute 25 yard blast that second-string goalkeeper Brad Knighton did well to contain. Knighton was on hand in the 21st minute when an Olsen curling shot was saved and Knighton nearly slipped and fell into his own goal. The best chance of the half however came just a few minutes later when a well-worked passing sequence by United resulted in Rodney Wallace’s  shot/cross from the left side of the penalty area just missing the wide open Christian Gomez’ sliding attempt to poke into an empty net. Gomez wasn’t finished just yet in his most effective performance of the young season. In the 35th minute Gomez got hold of a pass deep in the box and his scuffed shot attempt forced Knighton to dive to his right to punch away the goal bound shot. That attempt by United summed up the first half frustration from the home team as they thoroughly dominated play and were unlucky to go into the locker room with a 0-0 draw.

The second half started with a rare double substitution from United. Both Clyde Simms and Marc Burch were withdrawn and Andrew Jacobsen and Santino Quaranta made their entrances. The move seemed strange and with a touch of desperation at the time but it became clear after the match why the move was made. United head coach Tom Soehn was forced into the double substitution because Simms came to him just as the second half was to start and told him he could not go due to not feeling well. Soehn was clearly not happy with the untimely decision from his stalwart defensive midfielder, “Clyde has to do a better job of communicating with me. We never would have made the first sub (Quaranta for Burch) had I known Clyde wasn’t able to go. He just needs to do better than that.”

That being said, it was the visitors who took the shock lead in the 50th minute. The goal came about innocently enough when a Louis Crayton clearance sailed out of bounds at midfield. However, the Revolution took the throw in roughly twenty yards upfield from where the ball went out of bounds. With defender Bryan Namoff and midfielder Chris Pontius questioning referee Jair Maruffo about the positioning, Revolution midfielders Wells Thompson and Steve Ralston worked a quick one-two combination that saw a swerving cross sent into the box for Shalrie Joseph to head past the stunned United defense.

United quickly regrouped and nearly got the equaliser right away. A slick passing combination resulted in Gomez’ nicely weighted layoff to Pontius who juked Chris Tierney to the inside and his rasping angled drive sailed just over the bar from 8 yards out. Pontius suffered from a case of Deja Vu as his 58th minute setup from Gomez again resulted in another piledriver that whisked just wide of the frame. As the match wore on United was clearly getting frustrated with their lack of success before United’s emotional leader saved them from an undeserved loss in stoppage time.

Fred outworked Revolution midfielder Sainey Nyassi to a loose ball in the left corner and forced the Gambian to foul the United midfielder. Moreno stepped up and sent a ball to the far post where Olsen simply outhustled all of his competition and sent a header goalbound. The ball deflected off the chest of Tierney and settled into the side netting as Olsen’s United teamates mobbed him behind the goal. The assist from Jaime Moreno made him the first player in MLS history to put up 100 goals and 100 assists in his career.

D.C. United’s next match will be a U.S. Open Cup qualifier match at home against FC Dallas this upcoming Wednesday night at RFK Stadium. United’s next league match is next Sunday afternoon against New York Red Bull. That match is only on Telefutura. The Open Cup match will not be televised.

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