Ben Olsen. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Poor second half dooms United in 3-1 loss to NYCFC

Bronx, New York, August 13, 2015 – This type of loss has been coming for D.C. United. They’ve just been too stubborn to let it happen over the past three weeks but tonight it finally caved in as they allowed three second-half goals in a 3-1 loss to expansion side NYCFC tonight at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Thomas McNamara, David Villa and Kwadwo Poku all scored in the second stanza after United took a 1-0 lead in the 36th minuted through Alvaro Saborio.

Both teams came out relatively conservative though United had a golden opportunity in the third minute to take an early lead. Conor Doyle got loose behind NYCFC’s defense but a poor final touch prevented his one-v-one opportunity with Josh Saunders in goal. NYCFC had the next chance at grabbing the lead in the 21st minute when Villa’s hard angled shot was well saved by Bill Hamid.

United took the lead through some good fortune as NYCFC star Andres Pirlo put a back pass right into the path of a streaking Chris Rolfe. United’s leading scorer sprinted towards goal before squaring the ball to Saborio who’s shot kissed the inside of the far post before settling into the goal for his second goal with the Black-and-Red. United very nearly gave the lead up just sixty seconds later when the back line got caught out defensively only for Bobby Boswell’s lunging goal-line clearance of a Villa effort keeping United in the lead.

After that however it was all NYCFC as they put their foot on the accelerator right from the jump of the second half. Hamid came up huge in the 50th minute in what ended up being a bad sign of things to come. Just a minute later the home side was level as United fell asleep defensively, not for the first time. As the game was beginning to open up, Kwadwo Poku easily got behind Taylor Kemp and rounded Hamid and then slotted the ball to McNamara for an easy tap-in and his fifth goal of the season.

At this point United were simply trying to hang on to their 1-1 scoreline but the skill and class of Poku and Villa were too much for United to overcome. With United in a defensive shell and showing precious little in the way of possession or even passes strung together in the second half, it was Andres Pirlo who ultimately made the difference. In the 80th minute, Alvaro Saborio gave away a bad pass at midfield and then the Italian General simply picked apart United’s defense with an inch-perfect pass that had both Boswell and Sean Franklin playing the “you take it-I got it” game. As that indecision was happening, Villa forced his way between the two defenders and slotted a left-footed shot past a clearly exasperated Hamid for the 2-1 lead.

With United in free fall, Poku wrapped up his Man-of-the-Match performance as his physical speed and skill were no match for a back tracking Boswell. Poku simply overpowered United’s best defender and hammered a shot almost through Hamid for the final goal in a disappointing 3-1 loss.

Even with the loss United still maintain their 8-point lead in the Eastern Conference but now second place New York Red Bull have an eye towards the top of the conference as they have a healthy four games in hand on United.

Up next for United is a trip to Panama for their opening game in the Concacaf Champions League against Arabe Unido on Wednesday, August 19th. United is off this weekend from MLS action and will return to league play when they host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, August 22nd at 7pm. The CCL match will be televised on Fox Soccer Plus at 8pm EST while their league tilt with the Quakes will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet at 7pm EST

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