10-man United give up late goal in 1-0 loss in Seattle

Seattle, Washington, July 3, 2015 – Tyrone Mears’ goal through traffic late in the game was the difference maker as Seattle Sounders FC down shorthanded D.C. United by a 1-0 score at Century Link Field.

United not only had to deal with this being the fourth game in ten days on the road, but they also had to deal with the expulsion of their top player in Fabian Espindola when he was shown a straight red card in the 27th minute. Easily the games biggest talking point, Espindola appeared to throw a forearm into the throat of defender Zack Scott, who just minutes before received a yellow card of his own for a nasty head-to-head challenge on Espindola. It seems that the lesson of a six-game suspension at the beginning of the season for losing his cool and shoving a referee’s assistant in the playoff loss to Red Bull hasn’t exactly sunk in properly. United is a limited team offensively to begin with and going down to ten men for a foolish retaliation play only served to do United no justice whatsoever.

Despite the man disadvantage and being completely out possessed for the entire game, United and their typical staunch defense made things very difficult for the Sounders as they also were shorthanded of sorts with missing their top two goal scorers in Clint Dempsey (Gold Cup duty) and Obefemi Martins (injury) as well as Guatemalan midfielder Marco Pappa (Gold Cup). The Sounders were left with essentially long-range attempts on Andrew Dykstra’s goal (Bill Hamid was a late scratch) that were saved rather comfortably. The closest the home side got to scoring was a free kick attempt by Lamar Neagle that beat the wall but just flashed outside the near post of the goal midway through the second half.

Even with the tempo going the Sounders way, United did manage to carve out more than their share of chances to take the lead. Taylor Kemp’s angled free kick late in the game skipped off the top of the crossbar and then substitute Jairo Arrieta spun defender Chad Marshall around at the top of the penalty area only to see his right-footed effort fly over the crossbar.

Just when it seemed that United would get out of the NorthWest with a valiant hard-earned 0-0 draw, Mears ended that notion with a well-struck blast in the 88th minute. United were fully in all-hands-on-deck defense mode when a cross from the left flank came into the penalty area. The ball flew over all challengers and bounced into the path of Mears heading into the penalty area from his right-back position. The Englishman didn’t hesitate and unleashed a classy angled shot that easily flew into the far side netting and breaking the spirit of a well-fought effort from United.

United however had one more chance to even things up in stoppage time when Nick DeLeon took down former United goalkeeper Troy Perkins’ punch attempt from a Kemp free kick. DeLeon pulled the ball down and slid inside of two Sounders defenders and unleashed a left-footed blast that beat everyone except the crossbar as it bounded out for a Sounders goal kick.

Although United came out of this game with a brutal loss and a suspension for their next match from Espindola, the team will finally get an extended rest as they don’t play another match until two weeks from now on July 18th in Dallas. United has played the most games (21) in the league this season to date and now have only 13 league matches to play over the next four months. Rest should not be an issue moving forward through the end of the season. Even with the loss, United maintains their 11-point lead in the East but now teams with multiple games in hand (some have 5 or 6 games in hand on United) will have an opportunity to cut into United’s wide gap over the next two weekends.


United, Dynamo settle for 1-1 draw at RFK

Washington, D.C., April 18, 2015 – Chris Rolfe’s first-half wonder strike was cancelled out by a second-half Ricardo Clark goal as D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo battled to a 1-1 draw tonight at RFK Stadium in front of 13,047 fans.

United (3-1-2, 11 points) jumped into a tie at the top of the Eastern Conference with rivals New York Red Bull with the result while the Dynamo (2-2-3, 9 points) remain in the middle of a wide-open Western Conference. The draw also extend’s the Black-and-Red’s current run to four games unbeaten (two wins and two draws) ahead of a very nasty 3,000 mile trip to Vancouver next weekend to play against arguably the leagues fastest team and their concrete Field Turf surface.

United struggled right out of the gate and had trouble dealing with the Dynamo’s physical style. It was the visitors in fact who had the lions share of opportunities in the first half hour if not for a pair of Andrew Dykstra saves in net for United.  Dykstra, subbing in for the injured Bill Hamid, was last seen for United giving up more than his share of the five goals allowed in their 5-2 loss to Alajuelense in Costa Rica in late February.

Dykstra kept United in the game and they finally broke through to take the lead in the 36th minute. Jairo Arrieta did well to control a pass and turn his Dynamo defender as he was heading towards goal in the middle of the field. Arrieta was then bulled over just outside the penalty area and Chris Rolfe stepped up to take the ensuing free kick. Rolfe hit a 22-yard curling rocket around the Dynamo wall and into the far corner of the net for his first goal of the year. Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric did well to get a slight touch on the shot before it ricocheted off the far post and in.

After the break, Dynamo coach Owen Coyle finally realized he had a bona fide United killer among his substitutes and called on Will Bruin to the field. The burly striker has scored 9 career goals against United and true to form he instantly started creating havoc for the Dynamo. While United did manage to keep Bruin off the score sheet, he was instrumental in the Dynamo creating numerous opportunities to level the match. Just minutes after a Giles Barnes shot careened off the post, the Dynamo did finally tie the match in the 65th minute.

Brad Davis’ cross from the left flank met Bruin’s near post run and his flash header forced a tremendous reflex save from Dykstra only to see the rebound carom right in front of goal where United’s defense once again were slow to react as Ricardo Clark beat Taylor Kemp to the rebound and slammed the ball into the empty net. The goal was a cruel reminder of last weekend’s rebound from a Bill Hamid botched attempt to save a goal bound shot only to see another United killer Lloyd Sam pounce and take three points away from United.

United wasn’t without their opportunities to re-take the lead but most of their efforts were long range shots or hopeful crosses that just couldn’t be met with the appropriate accuracy. United struggled all night long to put the finishing touches on any of their offensive moves and on another night Chris Pontius may have gotten that game-winner but he seemed to make the wrong decision at the critical moment on several occasions that killed United attacks. Davy Arnaud just mistimed his leap on a Taylor Kemp cross only to see it go inches over his head as he was alone inside the six-yard box. Kemp once again was the provider on a ball that DeLeon volleyed over the bar from the same distance just a few minutes later.

United’s last chance however came in stoppage time when Deric palmed over a looping header from Bobby Boswell from a corner kick and that ended any threat from both sides as they shared the spoils.

United now turn their attention to the Vancouver Whitecaps and a meeting at B.C. Place next Saturday night. United will finally welcome back striker Fabian Espindola to the squad after serving his six-game suspension from the beginning of the season. United only lost one of their six games without their leading scorer and will look to gain their first ever win in Vancouver.


United Notes

  • Hamid was left out of the squad for precautionary measures. Interestingly enough, it was confirmed after the match by head coach Ben Olsen that his thigh contusion was suffered in the Red Bull match last weekend. If this was the case, why did United allow him to train and travel with the U.S. National Team for their 2-0 victory over Mexico earlier this week? Hmmmm…
  • Miguel Aguilar finally made an appearance for United coming on for the final 15 minutes. Aguilar had played in the opener against Montreal but has not played since.
  • Olsen did bemoan the fact that back-to-back draws were “frustrating” in the midst of a 5-out-of-6 game stretch of games at RFK, beginning with last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Red Bull

Mistakes, missed opportunities abound as United drop final preseason match in Dallas by 3-1 score

Not exactly the way Ben Olsen wanted this one to go.

With the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League beckoning just a week away, Olsen was looking for a solid effort to take down to Costa Rica. Well, that didn’t exactly pan out as D.C. United dropped a 3-1 decision to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas tonight. United made numerous defensive blunders to help the home side to the rather flattering lopsided scoreline. United actually played up a man for 65 minutes after FC Dallas midfielder Michel was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Sean Franklin in the 24th minute. Franklin would be subbed out at halftime of the match, no doubt for precautionary reasons. Olsen begged the referee and the FC Dallas staff to allow another player onto the field so it wouldn’t be 11-v-10. It hardly mattered at the end of the day.

Even so, with the man advantage it was FC Dallas that took the lead in the 27th minute thanks to some slack marking from United. Franklin applied very little pressure to left-back Moses Hernandez who was allowed to float a ball to the far post inside the area. Taylor Kemp was equally lax in the marking of Blas Perez who easily leaped to meet the cross and send it back towards the goal where Ryan Hollingshead tapped in his 3rd goal of the preseason.

United continued to seem flustered by the man-up situation but settled in towards the end of the half but did not generate any meaningful chances to close out the first stanza. After the break United continued their pressure and finally broke through in the 62nd minute. Jairo Arrieta, subbing in for the ineffective Chris Pontius just before the hour mark, hit the far post with a header just seconds into his appearance but would find the net just a few minutes later when he volleyed in a cross from Fabian Espindola from the right flank.

United seemed poised to take control of the match and should have doubled or even tripled their lead but not for two missed chances by Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen. DeLeon stumbled as he came into the area in the 70th minute allowing the defense and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to snuff out his chance. Perhaps an even more glaring miss was Kitchen’s attempt in the 75th minute. After United’s most attractive buildup of one-touch passes and clever movement of the preseason, Taylor Kemp found himself alone deep in the penalty area. His cross to the far post was headed back across the face of goal, not unlike the sequence that led to FC Dallas’ first goal of the game, where Kitchen simply whiffed on an easy tap-in.

United would rue that missed opportunity as FC Dallas caught United pushing players too far upfield in the 79th minute. A seemingly harmless through ball was shielded by defender Bobby Boswell who seemed to expect goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to clear out of danger. Dykstra hesitated and that was all it took for the league’s quickest player in Fabian Castillo to ghost in and easily round the goalkeeper for the game-winning tally.

United’s misery was compounded further when FC Dallas substitute Tesho Akindele was brought down in the area by Steve Birnbaum in the 88th minute. United again were caught with too many people moving forward and the quick FC Dallas counter caught them out of position. Akindele, last season’s Rookie of the Year winner over Birnbaum ironically, easily beat Dykstra to his right for the final goal of the game.

Olsen can not be happy with the number of critical mistakes and more so the lengthy man-advantage they had for the majority of the game. For a team that prides itself on their defending, to give up three goals with a man advantage can not bode well heading into their match on Thursday night against Alajuelense in Costa Rica.

Let’s hope this performance was just a mirage and United can learn from this harsh lesson.

Congratulating Davy

Early goal just enough as United hang on for 1-0 win over Red Bull

Davy Arnaud’s (8) 4th-minute goal stood up to give DC United their second consecutive win of the year over bitter rivals Red Bull New York. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Just one week after snapping a club-record 15-game winless streak, D.C. United won back-to-back matches for the first time in league play since October 2012 thanks to their 1-0 victory over rivals New York Red Bulls tonight at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The win was also the second of the season over an Eastern Conference rival. United only won one match (Montreal) against the East for the entirety of the 2013 MLS season.

Davy Arnaud’s 4th-minute goal stood up as United endured an onslaught from the visiting Red Bulls in an attempt to equalize the match. Andrew Dykstra, in for regular starter Bill Hamid who was again out with lingering issues from his toe injury suffered with the National Team ten days ago, was strong in goal and garnered his second shutout in as many starts with the Black-and-Red. Red Bull held most of the possession in a tense second-half which saw the home side give up the ball too easily to fuel the visiting attack. Red Bull had a number of near misses but it was actually Dykstra’s save off of a deflection from his own team mate Sean Franklin that proved to be his most difficult save of the evening.

While the visitors were carrying most of the play on the night, it was United who struck early in the 4th minute. United received a corner kick opportunity in part because of a poor misplay defensively from Red Bull center back Jamison Olave who’s heavy first touch took the ball over the end line. Fabian Espindola whipped in his customary left-footed screamer onto the head of Bobby Boswell who flicked the ball to the back post where Davy Arnaud was waiting and his diving header made it through three Red Bull players before settling in the far side netting for the early 1-0 lead.

United and Red Bull traded spells of possession through the remainder of a lively first forty-five minutes before Red Bull turned up the heat after the break. United was complicit in Red Bulls wave of attacks by giving the ball away too quickly and too easily to help aid the visitors in their attempt to equalize. United however were not without their opportunities to extend the lead, the best of which came when Eddie Johnson beat an offside trap and strode in on goal only to see his shot fly way over the crossbar. Although Johnson remains frustrated without a goal, he did all the little things tonight that received praise from head coach Ben Olsen after the match.

Somehow, United managed to hold up despite the surge from Red Bull and took the first leg lead in the Atlantic Cup over their fiercest rivals. United will now turn their attention to next Saturday’s match in Columbus as they hope to inflict some payback from their 3-0 season opening loss to the Crew at RFK in March..

Rolfe celebrates. Photo Tony Quinn.

United defeats New England 2-0 for first win of the season

Recently acquired Chris Rolfe scored United’s “insurance” goal late in the second half to give the Black-and-Red their first win and shutout of the season in a very stable defensive performance. Photo Tony Quinn.

D.C. United received some good fortune and then produced a world-class buildup for the insurance goal in second-half stoppage time in their 2-0 defeat of the New England Revolution tonight at RFK Stadium. The win snapped a club-record 15 game winless streak for United going all the way back to August of 2013.

Chris Rolfe, acquired via trade this past Wednesday, scored that late goal on his debut with United as the Black-and-Red put forth a very stable defensive performance to garner their first shutout of the season. United had given up six goals in its first three league matches heading into tonight’s match up and was without the services of Bill Hamid in goal, resting after a toe injury while with the National Team during the week. Andrew Dykstra stepped in for Hamid and had very little to do as the Revolution only managed one shot on goal throughout the match.

United took the lead in the 43rd minute with the benefit of some good luck when Cristian’s cross from the left flank was inexplicably turned into the goal by Revs reigning MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves. Both teams struggled to put any credible chances on goal in the first half aside from the blunder that afforded United the 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

After the break, it was more of the same as both teams struggled to break each other down. United, strangely enough, had a number of opportunities to strike on goal but Eddie Johnson failed to pull the trigger on one occasion and Nick DeLeon made a pair of marauding runs seemingly through the entire Revolution team only to see his last decision on the ball be the wrong one.

Meanwhile, United’s defense held strong and with the Revs pouring players forward, United scored one of the prettier goals in recent memory to seal the deal. Cristian started the sequence by skillfully pulling down a wayward up field attempt from the Revs and hit substitute Conor Doyle in stride in the Revolution’s defensive half. With most United players pulled back defensively, Doyle managed to hold on to the ball between three Revs defenders before spotting Fabian Espindola on the left flank. Espindola took one touch before whipping in a ball that curled just inches over the head of Goncalves right to Rolfe running into the penalty area and skillfully volleyed the ball past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

With the win, United jumped out of last place in the Eastern Conference and ahead of next week’s opponent, the New York Red Bulls who come to town next Saturday night at 7pm. The Red Bulls managed a 2-2 draw in Montreal this afternoon in spite of Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Jamison Olave all staying home and avoiding the Field Turf surface north of the border.

United begin preseason with 1-0 loss in the fog against Toronto FC

D.C. United opened up their preseason account with a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC in strangely foggy conditions tonight in Bradenton, Florida.

United was missing more than a few regulars and head coach Ben Olsen put out two separate units to begin each half. Predictably the more experienced side which started the match gave United their best chances on the night. After a pair of impressive saves by Andrew Dykstra in the opening 15 minutes of the match, Nick DeLeon had a pair of opportunities to put United ahead. In the 17th minute, Davy Arnaud’s cross from the right flank flicked off of a TFC defender right onto the chest of Luis Silva. Silva quickly touched the ball over his shoulder to DeLeon who beat TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendick but the admittedly weak shot was cleared off the goal line with ease.

DeLeon followed up a few minutes later with a sharp-angled shot that was well saved by Bendik. DeLeon appeared to have take the heavy criticism laid on his fitness levels from last season to heart as he appeared slim and trim and was active throughout his 45-minute stint on the field.

After the break, Olsen trotted out the remaining available players to finish out the match. United did have a number of chances to take the lead once again but narrowly missed out. In the 52nd minute rookie Christiano Francois, playing on the right flank, received a ball after a clearance from a United free kick. Francois’ delicate chip met the head of fellow rookie Steve Birnbaum but his glancing header just went wide of the post. In the 60th minute another United rookie in left back Travis Golden weaved through the TFC defense and his left-footed rocket sailed just over the bar.

United’s best chance of the second half (before the stream died in the 65th minute) came when Colin Martin dribbled through the heart of the Toronto defense only to see his shot smothered by TFC substitute goalkeeper Chris Konopko.

It was all for naught however when reportedly TFC striker Bright Dike got the game-winner in the 85th minute.

United will now regroup and look forward to their match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at 7pm. Let’s hope MLS get’s the stream issued straightened out before then..

International Exhibition – United vs Chivas: Youth on display as United draw 1-1 with Mexican legends

In a season that has gone dreadfully wrong, perhaps a break from MLS is just what D.C. United needed. It seems however that even the Soccer Gods won’t cut United any slack as a late goal from Angel Zaldivar in stoppage time earned Chivas de Guadalajara a 1-1 draw tonight at soggy RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Carlos Ruiz scored his first goal for United in the 73rd minute to give the home side the lead thanks to the hustle and first-touch of 17-year old striker Michael Seaton. Seaton, a Homegrown Player that signed at the beginning of the season, couldn’t have had a better start to his United career. The lanky Jamaican striker initially misjudged a quick throw-in from James Riley but outhustled his Chivas counterpart and slid a lovely cross from the endline to the top of the penalty area where Ruiz one-timed his shot to the far corner.

Just as United seemed to have locked down the win in stoppage time, slack defending allowed the Mexican giants to level the score in the 92nd minute. Given way too much time on the flanks, a ball was whipped into the area where Zaldivar got a head on the ball and gave United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra no chance.

Both squads were missing key players due to injury and International duty and the starting lineups reflected as much. United this past week made it clear to the rest of MLS of their intentions heading into the second half of their dismal campaign with a number of moves that reflected their new philosophy of youth leading the way. United handed a starting debut to withdrawn forward Luis Silva and midfielder Jared Jeffrey as well as second-half debuts to Seaton, fellow Homegrown signing Collin Martin and Indonesian international Alam Syamsir.

The jumbled lineups for both squads was evident on the field in the first 45 minutes but United’s season-long issue of not creating credible scoring chances was ever present as they only had a handful of chances from Chris Pontius, Jeffries and their best chance when John Thorrington’s cross into the goalmouth was scrambled away as Casey Townsend was looking to pounce. The horrific field conditions, thanks to heavy rains during the day and an Ethiopian soccer tournament as United was on the road the past two weeks, didn’t help matters either.

After the break massive changes to United’s lineup created more instability but it was the visitors who nearly took the lead in the 54th minute. Conor Shanosky slipped deep in the penalty area allowing a rare Chivas chance on goal and they rattled the crossbar from ten yards away.

Andrew Dykstra, subbed in for starter Joe Willis in the second half, made a pair of sensational saves to keep Chivas off the board and allowed United to score against the run of play. Dykstra continued his solid goalkeeping late into the match but Chivas snatched an important moral victory from United with their late goal in the 92nd minute.

It will be very interesting to see what decisions Ben Olsen will make with his lineups with the infusion of some hungry young blood into his side. With the transfer window still open for another six weeks, United is still not done changing their lineup and will look to improve their side in that span.

Meanwhile United will now look forward to another road game when they face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park a week from Saturday at 8:30 pm EST. The match will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

United Notes

  • Dwayne De Rosario, Nick DeLeon and Kyle Porter were left off the match roster due to lingering injuries. Dejan Jakovic and Brandon McDonald made their first appearances for United in quite some time
  • Marcelo Saragosa has to undergo another knee surgery and will be out a further 4-6 weeks
  • Despite the odds on Soccer Betting sites DC United managed a draw in this international friendly.