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United vs Red Bull: Missed PK critical in United’s 2-1 loss in New York

A nightmare season for D.C. United continued on it’s inevitable path as Dwayne De Rosario’s missed penalty summed up United’s season in a nutshell in their 2-1 loss against bitter rivals New York Red Bull at Red Bull Arena tonight.

With Red Bull leading 2-1 in the 72nd minute, Red Bull defender Ibrahim Sakagya was sent off after denying a goal scoring opportunity for De Rosario who’s hustle forced the burly defender to grab De Rosario as he was attempting to shoot on goal.

De Rosario’s penalty was struck hard but saved by Luis Robles’ diving effort to sink United even further in despair. United, playing with a man advantage for the first time all season long could not find the equalizer as United lost their 18th match of the season.

Lloyd Sam and Tim Cahill scored first-half goals sandwiched around Nick DeLeon’s fantastic solo effort and first goal of the season for United.

After the break United had their chances to equalize but the crossbar kept Luis Silva’s header out in the 53rd minute and Lewis Neal’s strike from distance was parried away by Robles just a few minutes later to keep the slender advantage for the home side.

Then came the game’s turning point. De Rosario was applying pressure on Sakagya who decided to try and body De Rosario off the ball instead of making a simple clearance. Perhaps looking for a foul from the referee, Sakagya soon learned it wasn’t coming and had no choice but to haul down United’s captain.

De Rosario stepped up and sent his shot to the right of Robles who stutter-stepped and then leaped to his right to parry away United’s best chance to level the match. The missed opportunity obviously sucked a lot of energy out of an active United team but they did press on and created a few half-chances, the best of which fell to the foot of substitute Collin Martin in stoppage time but his shot was hurried and well wide of the goal.

United, once again, fell behind early in the match on what can be described as a fluke goal. Lloyd Sam gathered a ball just seconds after a clear penalty against Dejan Jakovic on Tim Cahill was missed by the referee but perhaps kharmic justice was served as Sam’s floated ball inched over Bill Hamid in goal. Hamid could have been positioned a bit better considering the sharp angle that Sam had and in all honesty is was a cross attempt that floated into the far side of the goal.

United did equalize quite impressively when De Rosario switched fields and found DeLeon all alone deep in the penalty area. With work still to do to get off a shot, DeLeon cut back on Red Bull debutant left-back David Carney and sent a left-footed shot past Robles just inside the left post for his first goal of the season.

Two minutes later however Red Bull would score the game-winner on more casual defending from United. Jakovic was turned around twice by Red Bull midfielder Johnny Steele and unable to apply pressure to the predictable left-footed cross from Steele. The ball floated into the area to the one player United didn’t want it to go to in Tim Cahill. Daniel Woolard did his best but one of the worlds most deadliest men in the air was no match as his shot got by Hamid.

United now will turn their attention to their next league game next Saturday night in Carson, California as they take on Chivas USA at the Stub Hub Center. United will be without Jakovic, De Rosario and Kyle Porter as they have all been called up for Canada’s friendly with Spain next weekend.

Vancouver striker Camilo sends his penalty kick shot right down the middle as United's Bill Hamid dives to his left in vain. With the goal The Whitecaps got a controversial and most undeserved 1-0 lead. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United vs. Vancouver: Controversial penalty the difference in 1-0 loss to Whitecaps

If things haven’t gone bad enough for D.C. United this season, tonight’s 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps may have been the breaking point for United head coach Ben Olsen.

A 46th minute penalty decision by referee Matthew Forester (below) ultimately was the biggest talking point of the night and undoubtedly will draw a fine for Olsen from the league based on his post-game comments.

“Nobody wants to hear the last place coach complain about the referees. Nobody wants to hear that. But I’ve got a group of men in there who have fought their tails off,” Olsen lamented. ” I asked them to give me everything this week. I pushed guys to the limit with three matches and an Open Cup. And the joker in the middle did not do a good job. He failed those guys, he failed those guys in the locker room.” When asked in response if he received any type of explanation for the call Olsen increduously answered, “Explanation, they don’t have to explain. I do.. To my owners why I lost another game.” (see below)

Olsen departed quickly afterwards in what easily was the most brief press conference of his young coaching career. As for the controversial play itself, it happend just two minutes into the second half when Whitecaps midfielder Matt Watson broke in behind United’s defense and was met by United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Watson got to the ball before Hamid but Hamid did get a touch of the ball before taking down Watson. Usually when this happens, most goalkeepers get away with it. Forester decided apparantly that Hamid did not get a touch on the ball.

Vancouver striker Camilo stepped up and sent the penalty kick right down the middle as Hamid dove to his left in vain. The Whitecaps had a controversial and most undeserved lead at 1-0. United had multiple chances to take the lead, particularly in a first half that was completely dominated by United.

United’s best chance to open the scoring came in the 16th minute minute when defender Ethan White’s defense-splitting pass down the right flank set Chris Korb up with a golden opportunity. However, Korb inexplicably sent his undefended cross a clear five yards behind a wide-open Dwayne De Rosario at the penatly spot and towards Chris Pontius who’s attempted was easily tackled out for a corner.

That play in particular has come to define United’s season to date. At exactly the halfway point of the season, United (2-12-3  9 points) has been shut out in 10 of their 17 league matches and managed only 8 goals in that span. At some point the numbers don’t lie and the numbers tell anyone who watches that D.C. United are headed for an historically bad season unless they can manage to find a way to score goals.

Up next for the Black-and-Red is a very difficult three-game road trip which begins on Wednesday evening in Seattle. The match will be televised by Comcast at 10:00pm Eastern.

 

Chris Pontius

United vs. San Jose: Winless streak comes to an end with 1-0 win over Earthquakes

So that’s what it feels like to win a Major League Soccer match.

Chris Pontius led by example this evening by pushing the tempo and going at the Quakes. Photo: Martin Fernandez

Chris Pontius led by example this evening by pushing the tempo and going at the Quakes. Photo: Martin Fernandez

Chris Pontius’ eleventh-minute penalty kick conversion held up for the remainder of the match as D.C. United defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at RFK Stadium this evening. The victory snaps a winless streak that began on March 16th and continued for three-and-a-half months. Pontius did the easy part in converting the spot kick, but he led by example this evening by pushing the tempo and going at the Quakes in easily his most effective performance of the season.

United took the lead in the 11th minute thanks in part to a pair of fortunate bounces, the kind that just haven’t gone United’s way so far this season. A slick combination of passes along the left sideline saw Pontius emerge from the crowded area as he spotted captain John Thorrington at the top of the penalty area. Thorrington immediately one-touched his pass to a wide open Chris Korb flying into the area. Korb’s first touch was very rough ( unintentional first bounce of fortune) and put the San Jose defense on alert. Korb recovered just in time to push the ball past the defender before being hauled down. Referee Jair Marrufo initially waved play on but upon further consultation with referee’s assistant Eric Boria, Marrufo spun and pointed to the spot (second bounce).

Pontius easily sent Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch the wrong way to give United the lead for the second consecutive week. Unlike last week in their 2-1 loss to Toronto FC, United managed to keep the defensive miscues to minimum and managed out the remainder of the match under relatively heavy second-half pressure from the Quakes.

Bill Hamid was called upon to make a sensational reaction save on Shea Salinas’s bid in the 61st minute and then a much less threatening bid from Salinas again just three minutes later. Hamid seemed to have command of his box all night long as the Quakes were sending crosses into their pair of 6’4″ strikers in Alan Gordon and Adam Jahn. Gordon had the Quakes best opportunity to draw the match level in the 86th minute when his volleyed bid from six yards was struck too hard as it flew over the top of United’s goal. One could only wonder if regular striker Chris Wondolowski had been available, would he have converted such a chance.

As it happened, United garnered their much-needed second win of the season and now will turn their attention to their U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal match up this Wednesday evening at the SoccerPlex against the New England Revolution. Game time will be at 7:00 pm

United’s next league match will be at RFK Stadium next Saturday evening when they welcome in the Vancouver Whitecaps in their only meeting of the season.

United Notes

  • Dwayne De Rosario and Carlos Ruiz were on the 18-man roster but did not feature in the match as they were both limited in training this week due to slight injuries. Ben Olsen did mention that he had one eye on the Open Cup match up in regards to DeRo not featuring tonight. Olsen also intimated that the tempo of the match and the fact that United for once were in the lead and not chasing the match also factored into his decision.
  • Ethan White came out of the match early in the first half with a head injury after a nasty collision with Alan Gordon (below). Olsen was furious with referee Jair Marrufo and his lack of attention to the head injury that White suffered. Conor Shanosky came on for White as he was the only central defender available as healthy Brandon McDonald didn’t even make the game-day roster.
Ben Olsen was furious with referee Jair Marrufo and his lack of attention to the head injury that White suffered during this collision with Alan Gordon. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Ben Olsen was furious with referee Jair Marrufo and his lack of attention to the head injury that White suffered during this collision with Alan Gordon. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Despite Dwayne DeRosario's go ahead goal from the spot, United lost once again. Photo: Martin Fernandez

United vs Toronto FC: United officially hit rock bottom in 2-1 loss to TFC

D.C. United’s horrific season continues to spiral downhill as they lost this evening to visiting Toronto FC 2-1 at RFK Stadium. The loss extends United’s club-record winless streak to 13 games. Even worse, the loss came to a TFC team that itself was on a double-digit winless streak of their own.

In a matchup of non-titans, United came out on the front foot and actually took the lead in the 19th minute on Dwayne De Rosario’s converted penalty kick to give the Black-and-Red their first lead in a league match in over three months of play. The penalty was set up by an amazing 50-yard run by Nick DeLeon through the TFC defense that ended up with him being tripped just as he entered the penalty area.

United nearly doubled the lead when a give-and-go from De Rosario and Lionard Pajoy resulted in a half-chance by Pajoy but he ran out or room along the endline with an open goal at his mercy.

This is where it started to fall apart. TFC had done precious little offensively and United were on cruise control. Then the dreaded set piece rears it’s ugly head. United has given up over a dozen goals this season on set pieces and tonight was no exception.

In the 30th minute, 5-foot-7 inch Robert Earnshaw managed to beat 6-foot-1 United defender Brandon McDonald to a seemingly harmless floated 60-yard ball and headed the ball off the post and past Bill Hamid to level the match.

Just ten minutes later the frustration of a season-long epidemic of shooting themselves in the foot came to fruition when Daniel Woolard headed a ball into his own goal. It was the fourth own-goal given up by United this season.

United could not regain any momentum and things may have just gotten worse for United when De Rosario was forced off with an injury that seemed to drain whatever life was left in United. Chris Pontius, Kyle Porter (injured) and Carlos Ruiz (away on international duty) already were not availabe tonight adding to head coach Ben Olsen’s woes.

United now must turn their attention to next Saturday’s matchup at RFK against the San Jose Earthquakes.

United vs. New England: Winless streak hits twelve games in 0-0 draw in New England

D.C. United put forth their best defensive effort in quite some time and came out with a point in their 0-0 draw tonight against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The draw extends United’s club-record winless streak to twelve matches and keeps them cemented to the bottom of the Eastern Conference and Major League Soccer. The draw keeps the Revs on a six-game unbeaten run.

Once again the offensive output from United was less than stellar and only forced one save from Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. United did have a couple of near misses including Perry Kitchen’s stoppage-time header from a corner kick that most assuredly would have given United the win.

Head coach Ben Olsen made a number of moves to his lineup that included Dwayne De Rosario seeing the bench for the second time in three matches. Ethan White also reclaimed a starting central defender position from Conor Shanosky who made his MLS debut last weekend in United’s 2-0 loss in Chicago. The subtle moves seemed to keep United locked into the testy affair and they stood toe-t0-toe with the surging Revolution. Bill Hamid made a great save on Juan Toja late in the first half to keep the match deadlocked and then made a pair of saves late in the game when the home side were pushing for the win.

United now has gone three calendar months without a win in league play and will next face fellow Eastern Conference doormats Toronto FC at RFK Stadium next Saturday evening at 7:00 pm. Before that match however United will face the Philadelphia Union in a fourth-round match up in the 100th edition of the U.S. Open Cup this Wednesday evening at the SoccerPlex in Germantown, MD. Carlos Ruiz and Chris Korb will both be serving a red-card suspension and will not be available for United.

United vs. Columbus: Mysery continues as United is hammered 3-0 in Columbus

The Columbus Crew took advantage of more defensive mistakes from D.C. United and rolled to a 3-0 win tonight at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Dominic Oduro, Josh Williams and Federico Higuain all scored for the Crew in the first half to put United out of the match early.

Despite a 50-minute delay to the start of the match because the main scoreboard at the South end of the stadium caught fire during pregame warmups, the Crew were supremely efficient as they scored on all three of their shots on goal in the half and took a 3-0 lead into halftime. United, losers of five straight games, were hard done by the assistant referee for the second time this season against Columbus as a goal was waived off when it should have counted. Perry Kitchen had scored on a header from a Chris Korb cross just minutes after Columbus had taken a 1-0 lead but it was called back incorrectly for offside.  The replay clearly showed that while United had two players in a passive offside position, the ball came directly to Kitchen who was clearly onside.

But as United’s luck so far in 2013 would have it, the Crew came down the field and doubled their lead just two minutes after the disputed non-goal. Needless to say whatever confidence United had at that point was clearly gone as you could visibly see the frustration of this early season meltdown on their collective faces. Kyle Porter forced a good near post save from Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum late in the first half that would have cut the lead in half and temporarily had given United some life. The Black-and-Red kept the Crew on their heels but could not get the all important goal. All that was left was the final nail in the coffin for the match provided by Brandon McDonald.

McDonald, easily his worst performance in a United shirt, was subbed out at halftime for Ethan White who made his season debut with United. Earlier this week head coach Ben Olsen promised that he would hold players responsible for their actions and clearly McDonald was the first player to pay that price with his awful 45 minutes. McDonald was mostly responsible for all three Columbus goals but his blunder for the opener stuck out the most. McDonald’s attempted back-header to Bill  Hamid was poorly played and left the team scrambling. Jairo Arrieta’s cross after a missed tackle by McDonald found the onrushing Oduro to easily pop into goal for the 1-0 lead.

Two minutes after United were denied their equalizer, the Crew scored on a corner kick when Josh Williams beat – guess who – to the ball and his volley eluded a diving Hamid to make it 2-0. In stoppage time in the first half, McDonald was turned inside out by a one-two combination from Arrieta and Gaven and he clumsily rolled over Gaven for the penalty.

United did not give up entirely as they pushed the attack in the second half but were denied by the woodwork and simply poor finishing. It’s no wonder United is where they are right now when you go four straight matches on the road without scoring a goal. United’s best opportunities came late when Lionard Pajoy set up Marcos Sanchez in the area but his shot was well wide of the open goal. Pajoy would later hit the crossbar on a very nice free kick in the 93rd minute pretty much summing up United’s effort on the night and the season so far.

United will now have the next 10 day off before they welcome the Houston Dynamo to RFK Stadium on Wednesday, May 8th.

 

United Notes

– United was without Chris Pontius due to a groin injury suffered in training on Thursday morning. The injury is expected to keep Pontius out for a minimum of a few weeks

– Bill Hamid simply hasn’t had much help the past two weeks. Philadelphia and Columbus have put 6 goals past Hamid on only 7 shots on goal. That has to be some kind of record

Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave Celebrate Red Bull NY's second goal of the evening against rival's DC United. New York would go on to win the match 2-0 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. Phot Martin Fernandez.

United vs. Red Bull: Power outage continues as United drop 2-0 decision to New York

Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave scored seven minutes apart late in the first half to propel New York Red Bull to a 2-0 win last night over D.C. United at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United (1-4-1,  4 points) have now lost three consecutive matches and have failed to score in four of their six league matches to date. The loss drops United to the bottom of the Eastern Conference alongside the Chicago Fire, who play at Houston on Sunday afternoon.

United started the same lineup that took the field in last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Kansas City, but this time with the backing of 18,019 fans at RFK, surely United would respond. Unfortunately, the same script that has been seen for most of the season emerged once again.  United looked disconnected in the offensive half of the field and once again failed to generate a single shot on goal in the first 45 minutes. United’s continued impotence allowed Red Bull to take the lead in the 29th minute.

Thierry Henry got hold of a ball just outside the penalty area on the left side and his fake shot attempt temporarily froze United defender Chris Korb. The Frenchmen then pushed the ball towards the middle of the field and bent a shot through traffic towards the far post. Bill Hamid seemed to have the shot covered but it took a bounce just in front of United’s keeper and settled into the far side netting. Hamid got up and immediately looked at the chewed up area in front of the goal in exasperation. It was just a week ago that Hamid had commented on how nice the field was in Kansas City and how rocky and hard the surface was at RFK. Ben Olsen wasn’t having any of it after the match. “I expect Bill to make that save.” said a clearly frustrated Olsen.

Olsen and United’s frustration was doubled just seven minutes later when more lax set piece defending gave the visitors the 2-0 lead. Midfielder Juninho sent a ball into a thicket of players in United’s penalty area and former United defender Brandon Barklage redirected a header towards goal. As Hamid was moving to cover that shot, the ball took another deflection off of Red Bull defender Jamison Olave and gave Hamid no hope of stopping the shot. Olave, acquired in the offseason in a trade with Real Salt Lake, now has 3 goals on the season, one more than United has in six matches.

Olsen didn’t mince words in a very tense post-match press conference, “We’re easy to play against.”We’re pretty predictable in the way we go about things”. Olsen continued, “We’ve got to fix something. I don’t know if we have got to look within the league, I don’t know if we have to make a trade.”

United came out of the locker room and essentially dominated possession for the remainder of the match but rarely created any dangerous chances. The best opportunity for United to crawl back into the match came in the 72nd minute after United was awarded a free kick from 22-yards away. Dwayne De Rosario’s free kick got through the wall and was spilled by goalkeeper Luis Robles right into the path of Carlos Ruiz who’s shot was immediately smothered by Robles. That was pretty much it for the offensive output for United save for a feeble attempt by Chris Pontius late in the match that was easily smothered by Robles.

United now will face the Philadelphia Union next weekend at RFK Stadium on Sunday afternoon at 5pm. This match will be televised on ESPN2 to a nationwide audience. If people around the country aren’t aware of United’s current plight, they surely will witness it first hand next weekend.

United vs Crew: United’s home unbeaten run ends with 2-1 loss to Crew

Josh Williams (3) towers over United’s Defense to give the Columbus Crew the lead. Josh Williams and Ben Speas scored on either side of halftime to lead the visiting Columbus Crew (2-1-1  7 points) to a 2-1 win over D.C. United (1-2-1  4 points). The loss for United was the first in 20 home matches dating back to the season opening loss to Sporting Kansas City a year ago in March. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Head coach Ben Olsen knew that allowing the visiting Crew any chances on set pieces would be dangerous and Columbus made United pay for their mistakes. Williams was unmarked and easily beat Bill Hamid to the ball to give Columbus a 1-0 lead in just the 15th minute. The free kick that set up the goal was given when United defender Chris Korb misplayed a routine defensive clearance and handled the ball along the right sideline. Tyson Wahl’s left-footed curler found Williams all alone just eight yards from goal and beat Hamid who was premature in coming out.

Hamid was the story of the match for United as he pulled off a pair of stunning saves to keep the score at 1-0 just a few minutes after Columbus had taken the lead. United, looking ragged and sloppy through the first 20 minutes of the match, managed to equalize the match in stunning fashion in the 22nd minute. Brazilian forward Rafael, gaining his first start and minutes of the season, out muscled fellow countryman and Crew defender Glauber just inside United’s half of the field and pounced on the loose ball and took off towards goal. The crafty forward noticed Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum off his line and stung a 35-yard volley that found it’s way into the goal and leveled the match at 1-1.

United thought they had taken the lead late in the half on a bizarre play that referee Allen Chapman originally ruled as a “play on”. United substitute midfielder Kyle Porter took advantage of the passive offside rule and ghosted in all alone and easily beat Gruenebaum for what many thought was the go-ahead goal for United. However, after consulting with the assistant referee on the far sideline, the goal was called back much to the dismay of the 11,034 fans at RFK. The call is it turned out was the correct call as Lionard Pajoy was in an offside position when Dwayne De Rosario’s pass split the Crew defense and Pajoy moved towards the ball. The linesman in real time did throw up his flag but Chapman ruled a “play on” as he saw Porter coming to the ball from an onside position. The fact that Pajoy engaged himself towards the ball was the right call and United had to settle for a 1-1 tie heading into the locker room.

After the break things did not improve for the Black-and-Red. Playing without defender Dejan Jakovic who is on International duty with Canada, United clearly missed their most influential defender all game long as a series of free kicks for the Crew were becoming more and more dangerous. Bill Hamid pulled of a stunning double-save in 54th minute with saves back-t0-back on Williams and Wahl, the second of which was at point blank range.

However the seemingly unending series of bad giveaways from the defense and midfield allowed the Crew to apply the dagger blow in the 58th minute. Kyle Porter’s foul on Ben Speas along the left sideline set up a free kick opportunity for the Crew. Playmaker Federico Higuain whipped in a ball that was weakly cleared by United’s defense and the ball rolled out to Speas who’s 18-yard blast easily beat Hamid for the game-winning goal.

DeRo Denied. Photo: Martin Fernandez

United almost equalized in the 72nd minute when Gruenebaum pulled of his own double-save miracle. Lionard Pajoy’s header off of a corner kick went wide of goal as United kept the play alive and the ball ended up at the top of the penalty area where defender Brandon McDonald’s drive was parried by Gruenebaum to his right. The ball however was right in the path of De Rosario and his sharp angled bid (left, photo: Martin Fernandez) was blocked by the sprawling Crew keeper to help preserve the win.

United will now have the next weekend off of league play and will face another stern road test as they travel to face Sporting Kansas City on April 2nd.

United Notes

  • Marcelo Saragosa was not in the 18-man squad due to a minor injury suffered during training this week
  • Nick DeLeon was subbed out of the match in the 30th minute with an undisclosed injury. Olsen commented after the match that it might not be good news and did not elaborate on his status for upcoming matches

United vs Red Bull: Hamid, crossbar crucial in helping United escape with 0-0 draw in New Jersey

D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid came up with a number of tremendous saves to help United earn a point in a 0-0 draw this afternoon against rivals New York Red Bull. United (1-1-1  4 points) had to scramble defensively at times and were on the back foot for the majority of the match against Red Bull (0-1-2  2 points) in their home opener at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. United were also beneficiaries of some help from the crossbar as Red Bull forward Fabian Espindola twice was denied by the woodwork.

United again struggled to put together any semblance of attack and only had a handful of chances at goal, the best being Chris Pontius’ 60th minute bid that was well saved by Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles. Captain Dwayne De Rosario made his season debut after serving a two-game ban for a preseason head-butting incident but was rendered ineffective by Red Bull’s constant pressure. United did manage to go t0e-to-toe with Red Bull for the first forty-five minutes but after the break it was all Red Bull.

Hamid came up with a brilliant save on a Tim Cahill effort deep into the box and then just a few seconds later defender Chris Korb saved a goal himself by beating Thierry Henry to the back post and clearing a dangerous chance. Hamid however saved his best for last when he swiped a goal bound ball out of harms way in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the match. Replays showed no conclusive evidence that it crossed the line as the ball bounded off the chest of former United midfielder Brandon Barklage. Barklage, who scored twice  in a 3-2 win against United in their only regular season meeting last season at Red Bull Arena, chested the ball towards goal and Hamid dove to his right to swat the ball out of danger.

Hamid has now gotten shutouts in his last two matches but the offense still remains a big question mark after only scoring once in three matches.

United will now turn their attention to a home match next Saturday evening against the Columbus Crew. United defender Dejan Jakovic (Canada) and midfielder Marcos Sanchez (Panama) will not be available for the Black-and-Red against the Crew as they will be on international duty.