Washington, D.C., May 13, 2015 – “Better late then never” was the phrase bandied about in the Press Box tonight as D.C. United came from behind to defeat expansion side Orlando City SC 2-1 before 12,532 fans at RFK Stadium tonight.
Kofi Opare and Chris Rolfe scored nine minutes apart late in the second half to turn around an 11th minute deficit to extend the Black-and-Red’s unbeaten run to 8 matches in league play and an astounding 18 games unbeaten in all competitions going back to June of 2014. With the win United (6-1-3, 21 points) vaulted to the top of the Eastern Conference and all of MLS with the win. Orlando City (2-5-3, 9 points) remain in a three-way tie for fifth place with Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire.
It was the visitors however that would take a surprising lead in the 11th minute. On essentially their first foray into United territory, the Lions took advantage of multiple failed clearances by United’s defense from a free kick as the ball eventually made it to the foot of rookie striker Cyle Larin. The #1 overall pick in the 2015 MLS Superdraft immediately struck the loose ball into the far side netting past a helpless Bill Hamid for the the unexpected 1-0 lead.
United seemed stunned by the goal and continued to play as if in a fog throughout the remainder of the first half. United were easily controlling the tempo but could not put together that final ball to even threaten Orlando City’s goal as United ended up with no shots on goal through the first half.
Part of that could have been the three changes head coach Ben Olsen made to the lineup as he gave starts to Luis Silva (his first of the season), Michael Farfan and Taylor Kemp. As United are in the midst of a three games in eight day stretch, the changes to the lineup made logical sense but the results were not impressive as United struggled to string together any cohesion offensively.
All that changed in the second half when Olsen quickly brought on attackers Chris Rolfe, Jairo Arrieta and Miguel Aguilar. All three players played key roles in setting up and scoring the goals for United. In the 69th minute, it was Aguilar’s fearless run straight at the ineffective Orlando City midfield that drew a foul about 40 yards from goal. Taylor Kemp’s ensuing free kick was expertly lofted to the far post where Kofi Opare out jumped an Orlando City defender and nodded the ball to the far post for his first goal with United and leveled the match at 1-1.
Just nine minutes later United would get the game-winner from arguably the team MVP to this point in the season in Chris Rolfe. Davy Arnaud, who combined with Perry Kitchen to shut down Brazilian Designated Player Kaka all night long, won a ball and pushed it down the right flank to Arrieta who’s right-footed cross bent perfectly around the Orlando City defense where it met the outstretched left leg of Rolfe who redirected the ball past Orlando City goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
From there United easily saw out the remainder of the match easily possessing the ball and giving the visitors very few chances to threaten Hamid and United coasted to the victory.
United now embarks on a three-game road trip beginning Sunday night when they visit the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Union at 7pm EST. This match will be televised live on Fox Sports 1. United will wrap up their difficult road trip with a game against New England on May 23rd and then take on the Portland Timbers on short rest (and 3,000 miles away) on Wednesday, May 27th before returning home for a rematch against Philadelphia at RFK on May 30th.
- Midfielder/Defender Markus Halsti made the 18-man roster for the first time this season but did not make an appearance. Olsen stated after the match that Halsti stood a good chance of getting big minutes over the weekend against the Philadelphia Union.
- Fabian Espindola did not make the 18-man roster for the second straight match after picking up a knock against the Columbus Crew SC ten days ago. His status is still day-to-day.
- United pulled off their second win of the season after giving up the first goal. United only won one match all of last season after giving up the first goal