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United vs Houston: New season, same old story as Houston prevails 2-0

D.C. United fought hard but two goals in the final ten minutes were the difference in the Houston Dynamo’s 2-0 win tonight at BBVA Compass Stadium. United now is win less in nine matches all-time in Houston and has been shut out in six of those games.

For nearly the entire match, United seemed like they would buck their usual trend of losing in Houston when Bill Hamid had a penalty kick save in the first half and then he and Chris Korb made back-to-back saves on the goal line to keep the match scoreless heading to the break in the 43rd minute. Korb was fortunate to still be on the field as he appeared to take down Clark on a breakaway which usually comes with a complimentary red card. Korb stayed on and Hamid easily saved the weak penalty kick attempt from Brad Davis. Chris Pontius was the only United player to generate any offense in the first forty five minutes as his 30th minute drive just went wide of the post and his 44th minute free kick took a coat of paint off the top of the crossbar.

United conceded much of the field in the first half but came out with a bit more purpose after the intermission and nearly took the lead when a Pontius header sailed over the crossbar in the 60th minute. That essentially was the end of United’s offensive contributions as Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall didn’t even officially register a save on the night.

Just as it looked like United might be able to tough out a hard earned point on the road, Riley inadvertently headed into his own goal while trying to fend off Clark inside the six-yard box in the 80th minute. United gave up the second goal in the 89th minute thanks to a bit of luck as Warren Creavale somehow managed to keep a ball in play along the end line and found Clark at the edge of the six-yard box. The former U.S. international took one touch and rifled a shot past Brandon McDonald and Bill Hamid for the final nail in United’s coffin.

United now was the very small comfort of knowing they don’t have to go back to Houston for the remainder of the season. United now will turn their attention to their home opener next weekend against Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening.

 

United Notes

– Riley made his United debut as a halftime substitute for Daniel Woolard. No reason was given for Woolard leaving the match

– Marcos Sanchez and Kyle Porter also made their United debuts as second half subs late in the match

United vs Red Bull: United does it to New York again…..

Epic..

Unbelievable…

I think it’s safe to assume that D.C. United’s 1-0 win and 2-1 aggregate goal win over New York Red Bull this evening in the semi-final round of the Major League Soccer playoffs will go down in league and team lore. Nick DeLeon’s 88th minute strike was enough to send United to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will take on the #5 seed Houston Dynamo in a two-legged series starting this Sunday afternoon in Houston. The return leg will be at RFK next Wednesday or Thursday evening.

Stunning would be an understatement not only to United’s result tonight, but the series in general which had so many talking points off the field of play which included a venue switch and subsequent loss of home field advantage for United due to Hurricane Sandy as well as a very late and not well received postponement of this second leg last night due to a 6-inch snowfall. Throw in the two own goals, three red cards, two saved/missed penalties and of course the obligatory Marc Geiger penalty kick retake (see Kharma in the dictionary – Red Bull got the business end of that cruel mistress).

Throw all that in the wash and out comes a playoff series that won’t be forgotten any time soon by any fan of MLS.

With the series tied 1-1 heading into the match this evening, both teams were playing it safe from the beginning. United had a chance in the 3rd minute but Lionard Pajoy’s impatience produced a fine save from Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles. That was pretty much it for United’s attacking forays in the first half. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid wasn’t too busy in the first half either but did produce two solid saves to send the match to halftime still tied at 0-0 on the night.

After the break Red Bull starting amping up the pressure. Bill Hamid made a sensational one-v-one save versus former United midfielder Dax McCarty deep in the penalty area to preserve the 0-0 scoreline.

Then all Hell broke loose.

Bill Hamid was given a straight red card for a take down of Kenny Cooper just inside the penalty area in the 69th minute. After the dust settled, Joe Willis came in for Hamid and promptly saw Cooper go right down the middle to give Red Bull a 1-0 lead. However, in a situation seemingly straight from Hollywood, referee Marc Geiger called for a retake of the penalty as Thierry Henry and two team mates encroached into the area. Geiger was the same official who made the same call at RFK a few months ago when Dwayne De Rosario’s apparent game-winning penalty kick against the Philadelphia Union was called back.

Just like in that match, the goalkeeper made the subsequent penalty retake and gave life to United. Less than five minutes later Red Bull defender Rafa Marquez was given his marching orders after a vicious tackle on Chris Pontius to even up the sides at 10 each. With the sides now even, United simply was looking to take the match to extra-time when out of nowhere they fashioned the game-winner.

In the 88th minute, Pajoy made a crucial cross-field switch of the attack that hit Robbie Russell, in for the suspended Andy Najar, right in stride. The defender took a deft touch towards the middle of the field and slotted a ball into the penalty area. Red Bull defender Conor Lade easily kept Nick DeLeon onside and DeLeon’s right-footed blast whizzed past Robles for the 1-0 lead and 2-1 aggregate series lead.

With no time to spare Red Bull sent everyone forward and had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the 90th minute. Perry Kitchen was called for a foul just at the top of the penalty area just outside the arc. With everyone in the stadium knowing that World Cup winner and excellent free-kick taker Thierry Henry was pegged for the spotlight, substitute defender Roy Miller flummoxed everyone by ghosting in and sending his left-footed shot well over the bar.

That pretty much sums up the playoff history between D.C. United and New York Red Bull/Metrostars. United now has won all four lifetime playoff series against New York and has a total record of 6-1-2 in nine playoff matches.

Epic…

Unbelievable…

United vs. Red Bull: Missed opportunities, immaturity hamper United’s effort in 1-1 draw with Red Bull

D.C. United’s return to the MLS playoffs was an uneven and often frantic affair marred by two own-goals, a missed penalty kick by the home side and a bit of petulance from one of United’s more reliable and even-keeled players.

At the end of a much anticipated evening, United was left with a 1-1 draw against Red Bull heading into the return leg on Wednesday night in Harrison, New Jersey. After Chris Pontius missed a first half penalty kick, United went ahead on an own goal from Roy Miller in the 61st minute. Red Bull responded just four minutes later but in controversial fashion as United returned the own-goal favor when Bill Hamid pulled a save into his own goal, albeit with a helpful bump from Red Bull defender Markus Holgersson.

United then had to hold on for the final twenty minutes when the normally stoic Andy Najar got himself sent off with a double-yellow card infraction. Najar had just received an admittedly soft yellow card from referee Jair Marrufo and showed his displeasure of the call by throwing the ball back at the ref. Marrufo had no choice but to produce a second yellow and now one of United’s biggest assets will miss the second leg on Wednesday night.

The setting for United’s first playoff appearance since 2007 brought back memories of old for the Black-and-Red. The “Blackout” was in full effect as 17,556 fans poured into RFK Stadium and the atmosphere was electric as United came flying out from the first whistle. Red Bull goalkeeper and former United draft pick Luis Robles was called into action immediately somehow managing to save a goal-bound shot from Chris Korb through a thicket of players just seconds into the match.

United continued to pour forward and were putting the Red Bull defense under tremendous pressure and seemed poised to take a well deserved lead in the 32nd minute. Branko Boskovic found himself one-v-one against Red Bull defender Conor Lade and when the midfielder cut to his right, Lade stuck his hand out and batted down the ball and Marrufo eventually pointed to the spot. Captain Chris Pontius stepped up and sent his low line drive to Robles’ right only to see the Red Bull keeper parry it away to safety.

United continued to push forward and almost took the lead late in the first half when a good combination play through the midfield left Boskovic with a header that went fractionally wide of the post and both teams headed to the locker room deadlocked at 0-0.

After the break Red Bull started to work itself into the match and nearly took the lead in the 60th minute but Bill Hamid came out to smother Joel Lindpere’s shot to keep the match at 0-0. Just one minute later United took the lead when Chris Korb’s cross got deep into the box heading for team mate Nick DeLeon. Defender Roy Miller, a halftime substitute for the ineffective Rafa Marquez, badly misplayed his clearance and roofed the ball into his own goal.

The lead lasted just four minutes however when a bit of controversy got Red Bull level at 1-1. A Thierry Henry corner kick was floated to the back post where Heath Pearce headed back into the goal box. Hamid had a bead on the ball and took a bump from Holgersson just as he was jumping to control the ball. Hamid lost his balance and inadvertently carried the ball backwards over the goal line. United players pursued Marrufo in protest but to no avail.

Najar’s immaturity in the 71st minute essentially killed any hope of United attacking to take the first leg advantage into Harrison but United did manage to carve out a few opportunities and also had another claim for a penalty when Lionard Pajoy was seemingly bundled to the ground by Pearce only to see Marrufo wave play on. Chris Pontius followed the play all the way into the goal box and had his rebound effort smothered by Robles to end United’s last effort to take a slim lead up north.

United will now most likely draft Robbie Russell into the lineup in place of the suspended Najar for the return leg on Wednesday. The move will undoubtedly have an impact on bets at sports betting sites like SportsBettingWorld.com. While a win would have been huge for United heading into the second leg, they are far from out of it as they have played some of their most determined defense on the road in the last eight weeks of the season. No doubt the task is made larger by the move of venues this week and United losing whatever slim home field advantage they may have had, but United has been playing these types of games for the last two months and don’t be surprised if United manage to make it through to the Eastern Conference finals and receive at least one more opportunity to play at RFK this season.

United vs Chicago: 1-1 draw locks up 2nd place in the Eastern Conference for United

D.C. United finished their improbable run to second place in the Eastern Conference, extending their unbeaten streak to seven games after surviving a few desperate moments in a 1-1 tie with the Chicago Fire.

With the draw, United finishes the regular season as the 2nd place team in the East and will now face their most hated rivals the New York Red Bulls in a two-game total goals aggregate series starting next weekend at Red Bull Arena. Thanks to Red Bull’s comprehensive 3-0 road win over Philadelphia earlier in the day, United knew exactly what they needed to wrap up the 2nd seed. A loss to Chicago would have sent United tumbling to 4th place in the East and would have hosted the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium. With Hurricane Sandy expected to make landfall just north of Washington D.C. late Monday evening, it could have been a logistical nightmare with the expected massive power outages.

As it happens, Lionard Pajoy made that a moot point with his 51st minute equalizer after Patrick Nyarko had give the home side a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. Pajoy, a much-maligned player outside of United’s locker room, connected on a diving header after a gorgeous whipped in cross from Branko Boskovic to level the match. United continued to apply pressure and should have taken the lead late on only to see Pajoy’s weak chip attempt on a breakaway float harmlessly wide of an open net after Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson came out to narrow down the angle.

United came out in their now customary defensive posture but quickly grabbed hold of the match. Against the run of play in the 16th minute, the Fire worked the ball down United’s left wing and found Nyarko 25 yards out in front of goal. Marcelo Saragosa seemed to have a bead on Nyarko but a crafty cut-back move opened up space and the former Virginia Tech Hokie smoked his shot past a helpless Bill Hamid and the early lead. Chicago, had they held on to the lead would have jumped ahead of both United and Red Bull and into the second spot. It was not to be.

United continued to rule the match and got the deserved equalizer just after the halftime break. Branko Boskovic made his way down the left flank and whipped in a low cross that got around the defense and right onto the head of Pajoy who was diving away from goal. His redirect surprised Johnson as it settled into the far side netting. United continued to boss the match and the home side, desperately needing a win to avoid the knockout match, continued their out of sorts play.

The final ten minutes of the match finally saw Chicago pressing forward and they nearly equalized on numerous occasions but were stoned by Hamid on every turn. Hamid saved the best for last when he tipped Alex’ 30-yard bid over the crossbar in the dying seconds of the match to preserve United’s seven-game unbeaten streak and improbable climb up the Eastern Conference standings. Just seven weeks ago, United lost their captain Dwayne De Rosario to a knee injury and everyone except the men of D.C. United thought their season was done.

The second season is just now beginning…

United vs Union: Pajoy payback ends United road skid as United vault to 4th place in playoff chase

When news broke of team captain Dwayne De Rosario’s season-ending knee injury a week ago, the natural reaction was to think that United once again has to relive a nightmare from the prior season (Chris Pontius’ broken leg was followed by a 1-7-1 stretch to end the season). In the absence of their captain, someone would have to step up and take the mantle of team leader. Clearly Chris Pontius’ application made it to the top of the pile as his assist to Lionard Pajoy was the difference in United’s 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union tonight at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Pontius had a goal and an assist in United’s last game, a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the New England Revolution last weekend in D.C. just two days after learning De Rosario’s fate.

And while the game video of D.C. United’s 1-0 win won’t be making the trip to the Major League Soccer Hall of Fame anytime soon, this game served as a reminder that you don’t have to play beautiful flowing soccer to get desired results.  A ragged match between two teams clearly trying to find their own identities devolved into a sloppy turnover-filled affair. Pajoy made his return back to PPL Park to face his former team since the trade last month that sent Danny Cruz northbound on I-95 and pulled off the ultimate redemption by scoring the game-winning goal in the 67th minute and virtually eliminating his former side from the MLS playoff race.

The win for United (14-10-5, 47 points) breaks a six-game road losing skid and pushes United past both Columbus (45 pts) and Houston (46 pts) and into 4th place in the Eastern Conference. All three teams have five matches remaining in the season but no result was bigger than this one this season for the Black-and-Red.

A very disjointed first half from both sides saw scant few chances with only Chris Pontius’ 35-yard free kick being the only credible chance at goal for both sides. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid showed a signs of nervousness when he misplayed three separate attempts to clear balls from the penalty area and almost gifted the home side with a goal midway through the first half.

After the break both Hamid and United started to settle into the match and starting dictating to the Union. Fielding a very young side without any real goalscoring threats the home team generated very little all game long except for a few nervy moments in United’s penalty area late in the match.

United’s breakthrough in the 67th minute came courtesy of the fresh legs of substitute Maicon Santos. The Brazilian triggered a quick and rare counter attack with a perfectly weighted 30-yard pass between two Union defenders and right into the stride of Pontius. United’s newly appointed talisman made a move on Union defender Gabriel Farfan that freed him deep in the penalty area. Former University of Maryland goalkeeper Zac MacMath cut down Pontius’ angle to goal but the fourth-year player from UC-Santa Barbara calmly chipped the ball to the penalty spot where Pajoy chested the ball down and rifled home a shot just an instant before former United midfielder Brian Carroll could knock it away.

Philadelphia could only muster a few half-chances that sent nerves jangling a bit through the United defense but the Black-and-Red held on to the vital three road points and renewed some confidence heading into a weekend match up on Sunday afternoon against an admittedly poor Chivas USA side.

With a win on Sunday, United could further fortify their playoff positioning and with some help from the New England Revolution (who host New York Red Bull on Saturday night) could move into third place in the East.

Just a week ago that scenario didn’t even seem remotely possible.

United vs Revolution: Pontius, Hamid lead United to vital 2-1 win

Chris Pontius had a goal and an assist and Bill Hamid made a flurry of stunning saves in the final minutes to help D.C. United preserve a critical 2-1 win over the New England Revolution tonight at RFK Stadium.

The win lifted United (13-10-5  44 points) past the Columbus Crew and into fifth place in the race for the playoffs thanks to their 3-1 loss in New York this evening. The win also drew United just one point from fourth place which is currently occupied by the Houston Dynamo. United has a game in hand on the Dynamo and a draw later this week against Philadelphia would put United ahead of Houston due to the overall goals scored on the season so far. In addition, United has now set a new club record for most consecutive matches without a loss (14) at home. United is 10-1-4 at home this season with their lone loss coming in the season opener against Sporting Kansas City.

New England opened the match much brighter than United and were rewarded with an early lead in the 29th minute. A Nick DeLeon turnover started a lightning counter attack for the Revs as Diego Fagundez bombed towards United’s goal. His pass hit Kelyn Rowe in stride and he unleashed a shot that took an unfortunate deflection off the sliding Chris Korb and over the shoulder of Bill Hamid and off the underside of the crossbar for the 1-0 lead.

United didn’t have to wait long to level the match when in the 32nd minute Branko Boskovic got hold of a loose ball at the midfield stripe and weaved his way towards goal. Chris Pontius made a reverse run behind Boskovic and the Montenegran’s silky back heel hit Pontius in stride and he unleashed a 22-yard rocket that gave Matt Reis no chance and the match was tied at 1-1.

After the break the visitors continued to apply pressure on United’s goal but were left with only a few half-chances before United started to turn the match in their favor. Playing without injured captain Dwayne De Rosario who is lost for the season with an MCL sprain of his left knee, United struggled at times to create clear scoring opportunities. In the 61st minute United should have taken the lead but Matt Reis stoned Maicon Santos’ breakaway attempt and left the 15, 104 fans in attendance in agony.

That agony subsided just two minutes later when Chris Pontius set up Lewis Neal for the game-winning goal. United had won the ball deep along the left sideline and Pontius made his way out towards the top of the penalty area. He spotted Neal and feathered a pass to the Englishman at the top of the penalty arc and his sweeping left-footed shot nestled into the far side netting to send RFK into pandemonium.

United then had to work very hard to stave off a determined Revolution side and a pair of stunning saves for Hamid inside the final five minutes helped to preserve United’s precarious playoff position. Hamid made a reaction save when a deflected clearance hit off the face of Kelyn Rowe and was heading inside the near post. Hamid somehow managed to parry that attempt just wide of the post. Seconds later, Benny Feilheiber was open on the far post and Hamid sprung out towards the U.S. International and again somehow managed to get enough of the shot to send it wide of target.

United now has to turn their attention to an important road match at Philadelphia on Thursday evening. United is currently on a six-game road losing streak and need to garner at least a point to stay firmly in playoff contention.

 

United vs Real Salt Lake: Misery continues on the road as United fall 1-0 to Real Salt Lake

While the effort and the conviction was improved, the result was unfortunately the same as D.C. United lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake last night in front of 20,344 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium. The loss for United (12-10-5, 41 points) drops them into a tie for the fifth and final playoff spot with Chicago who has two games in hand on the Black-and-Red. Columbus’ second straight stoppage time win in a row vaulted them into fourth place and past both United and Chicago.

United’s playoff destiny is out of their hands now after being in control for most of the season. United has now lost six straight matches and seven of eight overall away from RFK Stadium and will be the focal point to perhaps yet another season without a playoff berth. Will Johnson’s 50th minute header was all Real Salt Lake needed to move into 3rd place in the Western Conference playoff chase.

Dwayne De Rosario’s 28th minute missile off the goal post and his one-v-one against former United goalkeeper Nick Rimando midway through the second half were all the dangerous chances United could muster in hopes of ending a critical road match losing streak. United’s overall game was much improved over some of their recent hapless road performances but yet again they failed to convert and have damaged their postseason hopes with this critical loss.

United has only seven matches remaining, four of which come on the road. The only saving grace for United right now is that they do play five straight matches upcoming against teams not currently in playoff position and also not likely to make the playoffs. If United can’t manage to win some of these games and break their losing skid on the road then they only have themselves to blame for missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

United will now take a much needed two-week break and will host the New England Revolution in their next match on Saturday, September 15th at RFK Stadium. Needless to say, anything less than three points on that evening will seriously damper United’s hopes for a playoff bid.

 

United Notes

– Andy Najar (abscessed tooth), Branko Boskovic (virus) and Hamdi Salihi (hamstring) were all out of the lineup for United

– Maicon Santos played made a substitute appearance and played for the first time since July

United vs. Columbus: United return the favor in 1-0 win over the Crew

Whomever made the MLS schedule before the season started really didn’t have D.C. United high on their list of concerns in regards to scheduling their home matches. A top and bottom-heavy home schedule has left United without any consistency through the dog days of Summer as they have only played two home matches since the end of May.

In spite of that damaging fact, United continued their winning ways with a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew tonight at RFK Stadium in a deja vu’ type role reversal of Columbus’ 1-0 win at Crew Stadium just two weekends ago. Both matches had the home side scoring early in the second half and both teams had to withstand a furious rally from the visitors before taking the three points. The win for United is their seventh consecutive win at RFK this season and has improved their home record to 8-1-2 overall at RFK. That win total surpasses the win total of both the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined for United.

Chris Pontius’ goal in the 49th minute was all the Black-and-Red needed to help solidify their 4th place position in the Eastern Conference. United is on 36 points and is well within reach of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City, ironically United’s next opponent.

The game-winning goal scoring sequence was started by Nick DeLeon as he torched Crew left back Josh Williams down the right sideline. The rookie from Louisville got to the endline and around Williams and headed towards goal. A move here and juke there set DeLeon up to center a pass across the goal mouth where United forward Long Tan took a back heel flick towards goal only to see it saved by Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. However, the ball dribbled right into the path of Pontius who roofed the ball into the net for his team-leading 10th goal of the season.

Pontius nearly doubled United’s lead just a few minutes later when he split the Crew back line but his shot was well parried away by Gruenebaum . The rebound fell right back at the feet of Pontius but he rushed his second attempt and sent it well wide of goal. As the match wore on United began to take a more defensive posture as the visitors were bearing down on goal. Disaster nearly struck in the 61st minute when United defenders Emiliano Dudar and Daniel Woolard knocked heads during a goal mouth defensive scramble. Woolard clearly was dazed and out of sorts and left head coach Ben Olsen with no choice but to substitute him out of the match. No word yet on the condition or severity of Woolard’s injury.

As the Crew continued to press forward, the United defense met every challenge as second half subs Lewis Neal, Maicon Santos and Dejan Jakovic helped stem the tide and send United home with a much needed three points.

United Notes

  • Interesting the Designated Player Hamdi Salihi did not make the game day roster for the first time all season long
  • Branko Boskovic played a full 90 minutes tonight, the first time he’s done that since his arrival midway through the 2009 season
  • Emiliano Dudar got his first start since April and while he looked rusty with his passing, he was rock solid in his defending. Ben Olsen made mention after the match that the newly laid turf at RFK probably had a lot to do with some errant passes from Dudar and subpar free kicks from the normally dangerous Boskovic

United vs Houston: Houston Hex continues as United crumble in 4-0 loss

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Coming off a week of unbridled optimism with the introduction of new owners Erik Thorir and Jason Levien into the United fold, you would think it would translate into an inspired performance in a place that has been a House of Horrors for D.C. United.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Bill Hamid’s red card take down on a breakaway by Macoumba Kandji in the 18th minute fueled another disastrous performance in Houston as the Black-and-Red fell 4-0 in Houston. The loss was their second this season to Houston at their brand new BBVA Compass Stadium. With the loss United fell into second place in the Eastern Conference and now will be without Hamid for their visit to Columbus next weekend.

United started the match well enough applying forward pressure from the opening whistle and had a number of opportunities to take the lead, the best being a semi-breakaway for Chris Pontius who’s effort was timid at best and an easy save for Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.

Then it happened.

In the 18th minute Robbie Russell was playing too high of a line and Kandji easily slipped past him down the left sideline. Hamid hesitated coming out to meet Kandji and by the time he did get to him, his scissor slide hacked Kandji down and gave referee Jason Anno no choice but to call for a penalty and send the young net minder off. Brad Davis stepped up and sent the ball past substitute goalkeeper Joe Willis for the 1-0 lead. Ironically, through 18 matches this season, United had not been called for a penalty or been given a red card at any point. It happened all in one play.

Houston continued to expose United with countless diagonal passes over the weak side of defense and it paid off in the 37th minute. Luis Camargo did well to fight off a Brandon McDonald challenge deep in the penalty area and waited long enough for Will Bruin to make a run towards the penalty spot. Dejan Jakovic was a bit lazy in recognizing the run and United were punished when Bruin scored his sixth goal against United in five matches for his career and a 2-0 lead at the half.

After the half United tried to hang on as best they can but a pair of goals from Oscar Boniek Garcia (62nd minute) and Brian Ching (89th minute penalty) put the final dagger into United and now they have to regroup and travel to Columbus to take on the Crew next Saturday evening.

United (10-6-3  33 pts) is now 0-7-1 lifetime in Houston and has been outscored 17-4 in those matches.

 

 

United vs. Red Bull: Familiar face helps to end United’s four-game winning streak at Red Bull

Former United player Brandon Barklage sent a clear message to Ben Olsen and his former team as his two goals helped power Red Bull New York to a 3-2 win tonight over D.C. United at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. Barklage, let go by United in the preseason, scored on two corner kicks in the first half to help Red Bull stun United and take a 2-1 lead into the half. The two goals by Barklage were his first two in his injury-plagued MLS career.

United got proceedings going early in this fast-paced match when Chris Pontius scored just 30 seconds into the match. Dwayne De Rosario and Danny Cruz worked a beautiful give-and-go down the right sideline and Pontius beat Red Bull goalkeeper Ryan Meara to the ball and flicked it into the goal for the stunning lead. However, it was the home side Red Bull who would respond with a flurry and dominate the rest of the first half.

Red Bull tied the match in the 20th minute when Barklage flashed in front of De Rosario on a corner kick and his flying outside of the right boot volley gave Bill Hamid no chance. At the end of the half Barklage struck again when a failed clearance from a corner fell right into the path of the fullback and his volley screamed into the opposite side netting for a well deserved 2-1 lead at the break for Red Bull.

After the break the deluge on United’s goal continued as the Black-and-Red’s defense was being torn apart by the quicker and more aggressive Red Bull midfield. In the 55th minute Red Bull extended the lead to 3-1 when Jan Gunner Solli scored on a Keystone Cops defensive effort from United. After the goal, Ben Olsen had no choice but to put in his attacking players from the bench and substitute Branko Boskovic helped turned the tide. Brankovic’s possession and calmness on the ball, which was missing entirely from the first hour of the match for United, helped United to rejoin the match.

In the 66th minute United drew closer when Pontius scored his second goal of the game (and team-leading 8th of the season) after an inch-perfect pass from Maicon Santos. However, television replays showed that Pontius was clearly offside but the goal stood as no flag was raised. United continued to pour on the pressure and had numerous opportunities to draw the match level only to see a few saves from Meara and some close offside calls ruin United’s comeback bid.

With the loss, United is tied with Red Bull at the top of the Eastern Conference with 30 points apiece, however United has the slight edge with a better goal difference at this point of the season. Red Bull also has a game in hand on United.

Next up for United is a home match next Saturday night against the expansion Montreal Impact. Montreal gave United all it could handle earlier this season in a 1-1 draw at RFK in April. This will be United’s only home game until August 4th.