C.J. Sapong’s header off of a corner kick in the 92nd minute gave visiting Sporting Kansas City a 1-0 win over D.C. United tonight in the season opener for both teams at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Sporting Kansas City were deserved if not cruel victors on a night where United could muster very little offensively against the defending Easter Conference Champions. United’s offseason moves brought in a number of players who hopefully will make a difference at some point this season but it bore very little results on a brisk and chilly 43 degree evening.
United were on the defensive for most of the match as they look disjointed offensively, especially reigning league and newly minted Designated Player MVP Dwayne De Rosario. The Canadian just didn’t have a very sharp night and his only contribution on the evening was the setting up of United’s two most dangerous opportunities on either side of halftime by Chris Pontius and substitute Maicon Santos. Both players had a bead on goal but sent their shots wide of the target as the Black-and-Red could only muster a Santos 83rd minute free kick as their one official shot on goal for the entire match.
Meanwhile, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was doing all he could to help keep a clean sheet as he ended up with 7 saves but it was the last shot on goal that eventually doomed United to defeat. United defender Brandon McDonald made a poor attempt to clear a ball from striker Kei Kamara and eventually hauled him down for a free kick at the top of the penalty area about 25 yards away. University of Maryland graduate Graham Zuisi took the free kick and his shot ricocheted off the wall and out for a corner. The ensuing corner was whipped in by the former Terp and it met the noggin of Sapong who steered it towards the far post giving Hamid no chance as United strangely decided to leave that post unguarded.
The stinging loss will have to linger for a while as United are now due to make the 3,000 mile trek to Southern California to take on the champion Los Angeles Galaxy next weekend.
– Ben Olsen decided not to start Argentine central defender Emiliano Dudar in favor of the McDonald/Dejan Jakovic combination. Olsen gave no explanation after the match as to why that decision was made
– Hamdi Salihi, Robbie Russell, Maicon Santos and Danny Cruz all made their United debuts this evening. Santos and Cruz were second-half substitutes
– 1st Round Superdraft pick Nick DeLeon did not make the final 18-man roster