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Short-handed United fall late to Red Bulls

Lloyd Sam’s 90th minute goal pushed New York Red Bull to a critical 1-0 win over rivals D.C. United tonight at Red Bull Arena it Harrison, New Jersey.

United put forth a valiant effort after they were reduced to 10 men in the 32nd minute after a highly-debatable red card was issued to Fabian Espindola for his high foot into the chest of Red Bull midfielder Dax McCarty. Replays showed while Espindola’s foot was certainly high, it seemed unfathomable that it was deemed reckless and a serious foul from referee Mark Geiger.

With the difficult task of playing a man down for an hour, United nearly pulled off a more than deserved point. However, with a desperate Red Bull needing three points to stay in contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the home side was pushing players forward and were becoming exceedingly frustrated with United’s disciplined defending and once again the fantastic presence of Bill Hamid in goal.

Hamid pulled off three stunning saves to keep Red Bull at bay late in the match before Sam got the game-winner in the 90th minute. With nearly their entire team pushed into the attacking third, a ball from defender Jamison Olave found it’s way to Sam on the right side of the penalty area. With defender Taylor Kemp trying to close him down, Sam slipped the ball underneath Hamid to give Red Bull the three points.

 Despite the heartbreaking loss (the third time United has lost in the 90th minute or later this season), United still remains in first place by five points over second-place Sporting Kansas City with both teams having six matches left in the season. 
 
Tonight was not a complete loss for United as they did see the long-awaited debut of Chris Pontius in the 80th minute. Chris Rolfe and Eddie Johnson both missed their second consecutive game which obviously hurt United’s chances once they went short-handed early in the game.
 
United now has a well-deserved 10 day break from league play but will have to travel to Jamaica next Wednesday for their CONCACAF Champions League match against 
Waterhouse FC before resuming league play in Chicago on Saturday, September 20th.

United’s 0-0 draw in Vancouver extends lead to five points

D.C. United picked up a valuable point with their 0-0 draw in Vancouver, British Columbia last night and extended their lead in the Eastern Conference to five points over second-place Sporting Kansas City who fell 2-1 to New York Red Bulls earlier in the day.

Bill Hamid picked up his eighth shutout of the season and tenth overall for the Black-and-Red. United (14-8-5, 47 points) picked up their first draw in league play since their 0-0 draw at FedEx Field against Columbus on June 7th, a span of three months. Vancouver meanwhile are quickly losing hope in their season as they suffered their sixth shutout in their last seven league matches and are currently on a 411-minute scoreless streak. The Whitecaps are currently trailing their Cascadia rival Portland Timbers for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Both sides played through a lightning quick first forty-five minutes which saw the home side gaining most of the scoring opportunities. It was more a case of poor finishing than anything Hamid was required to do because his saves for the entire night were routine at best. Vancouver’s best opportunity came on a free kick when newly acquired Costa Rican central defender Kendall Waston found himself at the top of the six-yard box all alone but managed to somehow whiff on the cross and the ball eventually bounded out of play just inches wide of the far post. That was pretty much it for Vancouver’s offensive output for the remainder of the match.

United did have a golden opportunity late in the first half to take the lead when great combination play between Perry Kitchen and Luis Silva created a one-v-one opportunity for Fabian Espindola but the Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted quickly came out on United’s top scorer and forced Espindola to clip the ball over the onrushing keeper, a chip that floated frustratingly over the top of the goal.

United were missing Chris Rolfe and Eddie Johnson, both injured during training this week with Rolfe’s broken arm being a long-term injury while Johnson was sitting out for precautionary measures with concussion-like symptoms. The loss of both of those players meant United was working with a thin bench, particularly in the offensive third and it showed for most of the evening.

However, in the end United defended staunchly and kept the dangerous opportunities for the more desperate Vancouver side to a minimum and walked out of B.C. Place with a valuable road point. United, which failed to win a single road match last season, now has accumulated 19 points (5-6-4) away from RFK Stadium and is a major reason why they are in solid position to pull a worst-to-first comeback that is rarely seen in MLS.

United now has to travel 3,000 miles back east for rematch with Red Bull at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday evening. That match will be shown on ESPN2 starting at 8pm EST.

United extends lead in East after 2-0 win over Red Bull

Second-half goals from Luis Silva and Eddie Johnson helped D.C. United to a 2-0 victory over bitter rivals New York Red Bull this afternoon at sticky RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

The win for United (14-8-4, 46 points) extended their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference to four points over second place Sporting Kansas City and thirteen points over a trio of squads tied for third. The win also clinched the Atlantic Cup for United, a trophy made up especially for this rivalry. Red Bull had won three of the previous four Atlantic Cups before today’s win (in combination with an early season win) for the Black-and-Red.

United would dictate the terms early in the match on a steamy mid-afternoon kickoff. Fabian Castillo had a semi-breakaway but his low drive was parried out by Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles inside of the first five minutes. A pair of defensive miscues from the visitors would give United two more golden chances to take the lead but a poorly timed flop from Luis Silva and a hesitant shot from Nick DeLeon came to nothing for United.

United’s best and last chance in the first half came when Silva was sent through in combination with Espindola but his chip attempt was easily snared by a theatrical diving save from Robles.

Red Bull finally started to get themselves in gear and should have taken the lead in the 31st minute when MLS’ leading goalscorer Bradley Wright-Phillips found himself inside the six-yard area all alone but his header was expertly saved by red-hot goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

Hamid would once again come up big at the end of the half when he would smother Lloyd Sam’s shot from ten yards through heavy traffic.

After the break the deadlock was finally broken in the 52nd minute, and it all started with Hamid. The goalkeeper’s long ball was nodded on by Espindola into the path of Silva who took advantage of a miscommunication between Robles and defender Ibrahim Sekagya and took a touch around the goalkeeper and easily slotted it home. The goal was Silva’s eight of the season, tying his previous total goal output over the past two seasons with Toronto FC and United.

Eddie Johnson, coming off the bench for the first time as a member of United,  came on for Silva a few minutes after the go-ahead goal and immediately injected himself into the flow of the match. Johnson should have set Espindola up for a tap-in just seconds after being on the field but his well intentioned but ultimately flawed pass was behind him to kill that threat. Johnson also set up Chris Rolfe but his angled bid was well saved from Robles to keep the scoreline at 1-0.

Red Bull would only really threaten once more the entire match and it was a half-chance at best when substitute Saer Sene came on and found himself in the middle of a scrum in the penalty area and and was unable to poke home the loose ball before United stalwart Perry Kitchen cleared the ball to safety.

Kitchen would factor into the insurance goal United would score in the 91st minute when he set Johnson loose on a breakaway. Johnson timed his flat run perfectly past a very tired Red Bull back four but still had work to do to grab the goal. Johnson’s first touch in open space was a controlling header that he nearly misplayed but ultimately got down to the ground. As he approached Robles, he chipped the ball over the prone goalkeeper but not before Robles got a slight hand on the shot. The ball still had enough juice on it to carry into the far side of the goal to give Johnson his fifth goal of the season and United comfort in pushing their rivals further away from them in the Eastern Conference.

After finishing a brutal 5-game in 15 day stretch, United will take the next two days off and return to training on Wednesday ahead of their match in Vancouver next Saturday evening. United will then have to come back East and take on this very same Red Bull team just four days later at Red Bull Arena.

 

 

United rolls to fourth win in a row in 3-0 defeat over Toronto FC

Eddie Johnson’s third goal in as many games staked D.C. United to an early lead on their way to an impressive 3-0 thrashing of Toronto FC tonight at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

United (11-5-4, 37 points) pulled within a point of Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders for the top spot in MLS. The win is their fourth in a row and fifth in six matches. The result also extended United’s lead over third-place TFC to 11 points.

Chris Rolfe added his fourth goal of the year early in the second half followed by an own-goal from TFC defender Nick Hagglund as he headed into his own net after a dazzling run through the entire back line by Nick DeLeon to set up the goal.

This game was a track meet from the opening whistle. TFC midfielder Dominic Oduro was in alone on goal in the 4th minute but shot just wide of Bill Hamid’s far post. Hamid’s positioning would be a major factor all night as he generated seven saves in the first half to keep United in the lead.

United took the lead in the eighth minute when Perry Kitchen’s lofted chip from the right side of the penalty area met Johnson at the far post who easily nodded past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

After the break United busted the game open thanks in part to a rare non-call from a referee that doubled United’s lead. On the hour mark, DeLeon made the first of two amazing runs through the TFC defense and pulled a cut-back move that forced TFC defender Warren Creavale to haul down DeLeon in the penalty area. However, match referee Chris Penso did well to play advantage as Rolfe picked up the loose ball and easily beat Bendik to the near post.

DeLeon crushed any residual  hopes for a TFC comeback  just seven minutes later when he ghosted past two TFC defenders and was in alone on Bendik. The TFC keeper did well to deflect DeLeon’s bid but Hagglund’s momentum in getting back to cover the goal line caused a moment of confusion and the rookie inadvertently headed into his own net for the final goal.

United now will turn their attention to Sunday night’s match in Houston. Houston has been a House of Horrors to United historically as the team has never won a game either at the old Robertson Stadium or the recently erected BBVA Compass Stadium. United has only managed a pair of draws lifetime in the state of Texas against the Dynamo.

Sunday’s game will be shown locally on Comcast SportsNet at 8pm EST.

Hamid comes up big as United take 2-1 win in Toronto

Bill Hamid’s last-second reflex save on Daniel Lovitz’ angled shot helped preserve a huge 2-1 win for D.C. United over Toronto FC tonight in Toronto, Ontario.

The win for United (8-5-4, 28 points) is their third road win of the season and more importantly it puts United back in first place in the Eastern Conference as they await Sporting Kansas City’s result tomorrow afternoon when they host the cellar-dwelling Chicago Fire.

Nick DeLeon’s second goal of the season opened the scoring in the 54th minute against the run of play as United had been second-best all night long. After the first forty-five minutes saw United defending in numbers and turning the ball over too easily, they decided to take a more aggressive approach and apply high pressure and it paid off for the Black-and-Red.

United’s high pressure forced a turnover and Luis Silva’s toe-poke set DeLeon off towards goal. DeLeon did well to keep TFC defender Nick Hagglund on his outside shoulder as he barreled towards goal with the ball. As he entered the penalty area, DeLeon spun TFC defender Collen Warren into the ground and unleashed a left-footed shot that squeezed between TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik and defender Steven Caldwell.

Up to that point DeLeon was more of a hindrance to United’s play rather than a factor, mirroring many of the issues that plagued United through the first fifty minutes of the match.

United’s lead did not last long however as the home side equalized in the 60th minute. With United under heavy pressure, a shot from TFC midfielder Jackson was on goal and Hamid made the save but couldn’t handle it cleanly as United were very slow to react to the rebound and Luke Moore tucked the ball for his third goal of the season.

Undaunted though, United struck back in the 69th minute and got the game-winner thanks to a Perry Kitchen header off of a corner kick. Kitchen was unmarked in the middle of the goal box and simply headed the ball down after very accurate service from substitute Lewis Neal.

With the new found lead, United pulled back and defended well over the final twenty minutes and actually went ahead a man when Hagglund was red-carded for his pulling down of Eddie Johnson on a breakaway. Initially referee Jeff Gantar only issued a yellow card to Hagglund but after consultation with the fourth official and his far sideline assistant, Gantar “upgraded” the foul to a red card offense.

United seemed relatively comfortable playing out the final minutes but not without one more heart-pounding moment at the death of the match. In the 95th minute Kitchen made a routine clearance that resulted in a TFC throw-in at midfield. With only seconds remaining a last ditch ball was curled over everyone to the far post where TFC defender Daniel Lovitz was crashing in on goal. Lovitz’ one-time shot was struck goal bound with venom but Hamid seemed to come from out of nowhere to make a dazzling save to preserve the win for United.

United now will savor this rather unexpected result and prepare for a match in San Jose next Friday night at 11pm EST. This match will be shown nationally on the NBCSportsNetwork.

Rolfe’s early goal holds up in 1-0 win in Philadelphia

Chris Rolfe’s sixth-minute goal was just enough as D.C. United defeated the Philadelphia Union 1-0 yesterday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The win for United was their first win on the road in league play in 21 games spanning all the way back to October 2012.

More importantly, the win helped United (4-3-2  14 points) move into second place in the Eastern Conference alongside three other teams but United is ahead of those teams on goal difference. United also has games in hand on most of the teams in the conference as well.

All in all, not too bad of a start to the 2014 season considering the team dropped their first two matches of the season.

In a game that no one will keep loaded on their DVR’s beyond this weekend, it was United who struck first blood in the sixth minute.

Lewis Neal’s diagonal pass over the defense from the right flank found Cristian alone in the left side of the penalty area. The Spanish defender then drove his pass low and hard through the center of the penalty area where it deflected off Philadelphia midfielder Maurice Edu and right to Chris Rolfe who was all alone in the center of the penalty area. The former Chicago Fire man chested the ball down and struck a left-footed volley into the side netting for the games only goal.

The goal was Rolfe’s second of the season for United and the 50th of his MLS career.

United seemed to have doubled their lead late in the half when Davy Arnaud set striker Eddie Johnson free who finished with aplomb over the onrushing Zach MacMath. However, the assistant referee raised his flag, incorrectly, for offside. The frustrated Johnson still remains without a goal through his eight starts for United and now most likely will be leaving the squad for the World Cup training camp and tournament and will be missing at least 6 or 7 matches for the Black-and-Red.

After the break, both teams struggled to find a foothold in the match with United doing most of the defending. There was very little cohesion for United in the final half of the field as the team struggled to find possession. In the 63rd minute the defense was called upon to help keep the shutout, it’s third 1-0 victory in Philadelphia since the Union came aboard in MLS in 2010.

The sequence started when Andrew Wenger’s nice spin move past Jeff Parke got him some space right at the penalty spot. His shot was saved by the onrushing Bill Hamid and the rebound fell to United-killer Conor Casey but Hamid somehow managed to flash in front of the shot to block that goal bound attempt as well. From there it was a double-block from Perry Kitchen in front of the scrambling United defense and the eventual clear from Parke that helped preserve the precarious 1-0 lead.

It seemed from that point that all United had to do was exercise the ghosts of the previous week’s late-game collapse and game-winner in Portland and see the match out. United had two excellent opportunities with Philadelphia surging forward to add a second goal but both attempts came to nothing.

Substitute Alex Caskey was sent in beautifully by Rolfe only to have the ball caught up in his feet and he could not even get a shot off before MacMath pounced on his attempt. The second opportunity was much more wasteful when once Rolfe sent in Luis Silva who decided to try and curl an angled shot to the far post from 10 yards out rather then square the ball to a wide-open Caskey at the penalty spot to bury into an empty net.

Never the less, United did see the match out and can now move on to a two-match home stand which will see them take on the reeling Montreal Impact this upcoming Saturday night followed by a midweek match against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night May 21st.

Perry Kitchen Congratualtes Fabian Espindola

United secures first point of the season in 2-2 draw with Chicago

D.C United took the field at soggy RFK Stadium on Saturday afternoon looking to excise the demons of back-to-back shutout losses to start the 2014 MLS campaign. The Chicago Fire however had other plans as their late goal ruined United’s chance at their first win of the season and first win in nearly seven months.

Quincy Amerikwa’s redirect from the six-yard box in the 82nd minute leveled the match at 2-2 and spoiled the party for the announced crowd of 9,445 fans, the smallest league crowd at RFK in over five years.

Chicago opened the scoring in the 27th minute against the run of play when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado headed in a Harrison Shipp corner kick. Hurtado easily shook the mark of United defender Sean Franklin and overpowered Cristian Fernandez to fire into the top corner of the net. Prior to the goal United were completely bossing the match when they forced Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson into four saves. In the games opening twenty-five minutes United had essentially tripled it’s offensive output in terms of creating chances from their first two league games.

After the gut shot of falling behind against the run of play, United did not shirk their responsibilities and quickly regained the momentum of the match in the 35th minute. Eddie Johnson was pulled down from behind at the right edge of the penalty area after being sent through by Perry Kitchen. While most of RFK howled in derision at Jair Maruffo for not pointing to the penalty spot, replays showed he made the right call. Up stepped Fabian Espindola and Nick DeLeon to combine for United’s first goal of the season. DeLeon rolled the free kick behind and to the left for the onrushing Argentine to blast a shot through the wall and skip past Johnson on the greasy surface and level the match at 1-1.

Both teams struggled with the sloppy conditions by trading half-chances through the subsequent next forty minutes before United took the lead in the 73rd minute. Espindola’s corner kick found the head of Bobby Boswell who forced a diving save from Johnson on the line. The rebound found it’s way back to Boswell who then slammed a shot off the goalpost only to see the rebound finally land at the feet of Kitched who shoveled the ball into the net for the go-ahead goal.

United from there retreated into a defensive stance trying to capture their first win of the season. However, they got burned badly in the 82nd minute and paid the price with the game-tying goal from Amerikwa. Substitute Patrick Nyarko collected a ball along the right end line and nutmegged United defender Cristian Fernandez. His centering pass found Amerikwa in stride and his blast easily bested Bill Hamid.

The draw with Chicago means that United have now gone 15 matches without a win over the course of two seasons. United will next take aim at the New England Revolution who come to town next Saturday night at 7pm.

Episode 130 – Dos a Cero

Join the guys as they review DC United’s past two matches against both LA Teams, including the 1-0 loss at Chivas USA and the 2-2 draw vs. LA at RFK Stadium. The boys also take a look at the US Men’s National team and yet another 2-0 win against Arch Rival Mexico in Columbus…

LA's Robbie Keanne beats United defender Dejan Jakovic to the ball; Photo: Tony Quinn.

United vs Galaxy: Late equalizer salvages energetic 2-2 draw with the Galaxy

Kyle Porter’s 84th minute headed goal earned D.C. United a well deserved but still unsatisfying 2-2 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy this afternoon at sunny RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Twice United fell behind the star studded Galaxy lineup but unlike any other time this season, United found the equalizing goal. Robbie Keane (above right; Photo Tony Quinn.) put the Galaxy up in just the 7th minute finishing off a nice sequence after Landon Donovan’s back heel. Keane faked out the United defense and slipped a shot towards goal that United goalkeeper Bill Hamid somehow managed to get a hand on but only slowed it down before settling into the net.

The usual response for United this season after allowing an early goal would be a game-long search that usually comes to nothing. Today was different however and United managed to take the play to the visitors and were rewarded for their efforts in the 39th minute due to a combination of good hustle from Chris Pontius and lazy defending from Omar Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, fresh off his 90-minute stint in defense for the United States during their 2014 World Cup clinching win against Mexico on Wednesday, seemed to make the wrong choice defensively by chesting a ball too casually and Pontius ghosted in and took the ball right off his foot. Pontius glided in all alone on Penedo and rounded the keeper and tucked his second goal of the season away to draw the match level at 1-1. Pontius was making his first start in nearly two months and scored his first goal from the run of play in nearly a whole calendar year.

After the break, Landon Donovan was subbed out with a minor ankle injury that could have been seen as an eye towards a crucial Tuesday night CONCACAF Champions league match for the Galaxy. In fact, considering how poorly United has played this season in combination with four of the Galaxy’s top players just coming off International World Cup qualifying duty, it was a bit of a surprise that head coach Bruce Arena decided to play essentially his top X1.

With United dictating the tempo since the opening Galaxy goal, seemingly their night was ruined when the Galaxy scored against the run of play in 81st minute. Rookie midfielder Gyasi Zardes’ quick switch of field pass over the United defense set Keane and midfielder Michael Stephens into a 2-v-1 advantage at the far side of the penalty area. With United scrambling back to try to defend, Keane slipped a pass to Stephens who calmly placed a shot to the left of Hamid and into the corner of the far side of goal for a 2-1 lead.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been the end of the game based on United’s terrible form this season. However, the Black-and-Red managed to pull out the equalizer through some nice work of their own deep in Galaxy territory. With United pushing players into attack, Perry Kitchen found himself at the corner of the penalty area and his deft chip over the defense found a wide-open Kyle Porter who’s one-time header easily beat Penedo to give United a much deserved share of the spoils.

United managed to put a scare into the Galaxy in stoppage time when team captain Dwayne De Rosario’s turn and chip to the far post nearly connected with Porter that would have given United a surprise come-from-behind win. But in a season that was over long ago, that would have been asking too much of a team that has been on the wrong end of the scoreline too many times.

United will now hit the road for two of their final three road matches of the season when they take on New England and Toronto FC starting next weekend in Foxborough, MA

United vs Chivas USA: United lifeless in 1-0 loss to Chivas USA

In a season that will soon go down in MLS’ record books for futility, D.C. United provided more ammunition to lay claim to the worst team the league has ever seen after it’s 1-0 loss last night to Chivas USA at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Erick Torres’ goal in the 50th minute was the ultimate difference and just another in a long line of mistakes and bad bounces that has come to the once proud franchise. Following a fantastic save from Bill Hamid on an Eric Avila blast from outside the penalty area, the ensuing corner kick was eventually but not effectively cleared by United. A looping cross into the area headed straight to Nick DeLeon however his shanked headed clearance fell right into the path of the only Chivas USA player with any ability to score goals recently and Torres’ bundled his shot into the ground and past Hamid for the 1-0 lead.

United’s record now is a painful 3-19-5 (14 points) on the season including a pathetic 0-10-3 on the road with only 4 goals scored away from RFK Stadium. Additionally, United is 0-17-1 when allowing the first goal of the game.

United seemed the more eager of the two cellar dwellers in the first forty-five minutes and forced Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy into a pair of fine saves on Conor Doyle. The first save came when Chris Korb busted down the right flank and in combination with DeLeon created a cross along the ground right to the penalty spot where Doyle just got a toe on the cross ahead of the challenge of Bobby Burling. Kennedy came out to narrow the angle and smothered the shot and forced a corner.

United’s best chance on the night was when Doyle was sent through only to see his worm-burner effort kneed out by Kennedy late in the first half.

United, playing without the Canadian trio of Dwayne De Rosario, Dejan Jakovic and Kyle Porter, didn’t seem to have the requisite hunger or eagerness to push the attach to the equally woeful Chivas USA after falling behind. Instead, they chose mostly to maintain possession amongst the back line and Bill Hamid in a display of a team bereft of ideas offensively and struggling with any confidence. It’s no wonder Ben Olsen’s team is heading for the history books.

If things weren’t any worse, the Black-and-Red welcome the Los Angeles Galaxy into town next weekend on Saturday night at RFK Stadium. The Galaxy are coming off a 1-0 home loss to the Colorado Rapids but they were missing their top four players in Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane and Jaime Penedo due to World Cup qualifying commitments.