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United vs Philadelphia Union: United steal a win in Philadelphia

On a night where D.C. United were less than impressive coming off a two-week break, the Black-and-Red managed to steal a 1-0 victory over the hapless Philadelphia Union. The Union (2-8-2  8 pts) were playing their first match after the firing of Peter Nowak during the midweek and were by far the more aggressive team on the night and were unfortunate not to take advantage of a rare off night for United.

Chris Pontius’ goal off of another brilliant free kick from Branko Boskovic in the 78th minute was the difference and kept United (9-4-3  30pts) in first place for another week in the Eastern Conference. United has won four games in a row after struggling for over three seasons to even put back-t0-back wins together. The goal was the sixth of the season for Pontius who was making his first league appearance since early May due to an injury to his backside. Boskovic once again provided the key spark for United when he subbed in for the ineffective Maicon Santos midway through the second half. To be fair to Santos, not a single player for United stood out on a night where there was no cohesion and the “new coach bump” for Philadelphia was in full effect.

Boskovic’ free kick was whipped perfectly over the wall to Pontius who ran on to the ball at the back post for an easy tap-in. On the evening United created very few chances and were just a step off and were fortunate not to go behind if not for a few sparkling saves from Bill Hamid. Hamid’s save on a Carlos Valdez header in the 86th minute preserved the win for United.

United’s next opponent will be another Eastern Conference rival when they travel to Harrison, New Jersey to take on the Red Bulls on Sunday, June 24th.

Antoine Hoppenot of the Philadelphia Union after scoring the winning goal for his team and eliminating D.C. United from the U.S. Open Cup. Photo Tony Quinn.

US Open Cup – United vs Philadelphia: United falls to Union 2-1 AET

Rookie Antoine Hoppenot’s second-minute strike into the first session of extra time was enough to lead the Philadelphia Union to an upset 2-1 win over D.C. United last night in the 4th Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament. A second-half sub, Hoppenot got onto the end of beautifully weighted through ball from former United player Freddy Adu and fought off a sliding challenge from United defender Emiliano Dudar and slipped the ball past Bill Hamid for the game-winner in a contest that was physical from the first whistle and ended with two players being sent off for fighting.

United fell behind after a rather tame first half of action when Brian Carroll’s shot in the 44th minute was deflected off the arm of Dudar and past Hamid for a 1-0 lead. Just seconds later however, United responded swiftly through their only good piece of buildup play all night long. Striker Hamdi Salihi did well to control a pass with his back to the goal at the top of the penalty area. After wiggling his way out of defensive pressure, his pass spotted Andy Najar on the wing. The Honduran crossed the ball to the far side of goal where Nick DeLeon headed the ball back across the face of goal to a wide open Josh Wolff to simply nod into the empty net for a 1-1 scoreline heading into halftime

After the break it was more of the same ineffective soccer from United. Despite naming a very strong first X1, United were second best most of the evening to all challenges and created very little offensively and in some respects were fortunate to get to extra time still level with Philadelphia. However, that tide turned rather quickly in extra time and with United missing some of their most effective players (Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic are with the Canadian National Team and Chris Pontius and Danny Cruz were still out with injuries), United only had defensive subs left on the bench and could muster very little except from a Salihi shot that was well saved by Union goalkeeper Zack McMath.

The loss for United stings for the moment but now all of their remaining attention for the 2012 campaign can be focused on a long-lost return to the MLS playoffs. Up next for United is a rematch with the Union in Philadelphia on June 16th to restart their MLS season after a two-week break.

 

 

United vs Revolution: United survive furious Revolution rally; climb to 1st Place in the East with 3-2 victory

Maicon Santos’ go-ahead goal in the 61st minute helped D.C. United to a 3-2 win tonight over the visiting New England Revolution at RFK Stadium. With the win United (8-4-3  27 pts) vaulted over idle New York Red Bull and into first place in the Eastern Conference ahead of their two-week break from league play. The Revolution (4-7-1  13 pts) almost pulled off a stunning result, rallying from a 2-0 first half deficit by scoring twice inside the first five minutes of the second half before Santos fired United ahead.

United took the lead in the 15th minute when Brandon McDonald flicked a header from a Branko Boskovic free kick over the head of Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis. United doubled their lead in first half stoppage time when United’s Dejan Jakovic scored on a goal mouth scramble from a corner kick. It was the first goal of the season for each of United’s central defenders and the first of Jakovic’ MLS career.

After the break the Revolution stormed back to level the match at 2-2 before many of the 14, 627 fans at RFK could find their seats. Saer Sene followed up a wicked long-range blast from Benny Feilhaber in the 48th minute for his team leading sixth goal of the season. Just two minutes later the match was tied when defender A.J. Soares beat a United defender to a corner kick and his header flicked into the far side netting and the a new match was born.

The Revolution continued to send numbers forward and paid for their aggressiveness in the 61st minute with a well-crafted sequence from the Black-and-Red to retake the lead. Substitute Maicon Santos, only on the field for five minutes, made a dazzling spin move between two Revs defenders in midfield and headed towards goal. His pass to Dwayne De Rosario freed the Canadian into the penalty area and with  Hamdi Salihi open in front of goal, De Rosario chose to pass back towards the penalty spot to Santos who’s first-time strike was too precise for Reis.  The goal for Santos was his team leading 7th of the season.

United then were forced into their own end of the field for the remainder of the match and had to fight off a number of dangerous chances from the Revolution. Once chance in particular saved the three points for United when goalkeeper Bill Hamid acrobatically leaped to his left to fingertip a goal-bound header from rookie midfielder Kelyn Rowe over the bar in stoppage time to help preserve United’s third win in a row.

United is now on a two-week break from league play and will remain in first place due to the fact that only two games are scheduled league-wide in that span because of World Cup qualifying beginning in early June. United’s next league match will be away to the suddenly reeling Philadelphia Union on June 16th.

United Notes

  • United is four games above .500 for the first time since June of 2008. Three wins in a row are their most since that same time period in 2008
  • Nick DeLeon made his first start since injuring his hamstring in training in early May. Jakovic made his first start since facing New England in Foxboro in April
  • Emiliano Dudar made the bench for the first time since injuring his hamstring in United’s 3-2 win over Houston in mid-May

United vs Toronto FC: United extends TFC’s misery with 3-1 win

Dwayne De Rosario continued his torrid scoring pace against his former teams by bagging a brace to help lead D.C. United (7-4-3  24pts) to a 3-1 win tonight over still win less Toronto FC (0-9-0  0pts). De Rosario has scored five goals in TFC’s past two visits to RFK Stadium. The win for United extends their winning streak to two games in a row and four games in a row at RFK (seven games unbeaten at RFK since dropping the season opener in stoppage time to Sporting Kansas City). Entering the 2012 season United had gone 80 league matches without winning back-to-back games but now the Black-and-Red have done it twice within the past seven games. The win also helped United jump over Sporting Kansas City and into second place in the Eastern Conference.

United wasted no time in jumping on the visitors inside the first minute. Branko Boskovic, who had served up numerous dangerous corner kicks during Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Colorado, whipped in a free kick that De Rosario headed past former United goalkeeper Milos Kocic for the shock 1-0 lead. The assist is the first point for Boskovic in his MLS career that has spanned just over three seasons.

Just as TFC was starting to gain traction in the match, United struck again in the 43rd minute. Boskovic once again was the catalyst as he played a long ball straight through to Josh Wolff. Wolff then hit the overlapping run of Chris Korb along the right side of the box and his one-time pass through the penalty area hit De Rosario in stride as he forced it past Kocic for the 2-0 lead. De Rosario now has five goals on the season and three in two matches after a slow start to the season for MLS’ reigning MVP.

After the break TFC started to apply heavy pressure and made things nervy for United in the 71st minute when Danny Koevermans was left unmarked on the back post and volleyed into the goal under little pressure. It seemed both Brandon McDonald and Perry Kitchen lost sight of the huge Dutch forward and it threw Hamid off as it seemed to be a rather simple walk out and catch for United’s net minder.

In a season that is quickly building into something special, United responded almost immediately thanks to some individual brilliance from Andy Najar. In the 73rd minute Boskovic hit Najar with a touch pass right at the corner of the penalty area. Two quick juke moves later, Najar was centering a pass into the heart of the area where poacher supreme Hamdi Salihi forced the ball over Kocic and into the net for his fourth goal in five matches for United. Salihi nearly hit for his own double a few minutes later but couldn’t beat Kocic all alone after a great feed from De Rosario and United would run out the match 3-1 winners.

United will now wait a week for a visit from the New England Revolution next Saturday night at RFK Stadium. United defeated the Revolution in Foxborough earlier this season by a 2-1 score.

United Notes

  • For the third consecutive match, Ben Olsen was forced to burn a substitute due to another injury. Danny Cruz pulled his hamstring on a long sprint in the 21st minute and was replaced by Dejan Jakovic
  • Maicon Santos and Chris Pontius both were listed on the 18-man roster but did not play. Emiliano Dudar, Nick DeLeon and Robbie Russell were all held out with injuries. DeLeon and Dudar could make it back next weekend but with a two-week break coming up after the Revolution match, there will be no urgency to rush them back into the team
  • Lewis Neal was listed on the roster but was held out by Olsen due to a very slight hamstring twinge, thus Boskovic starting on the left flank tonight

Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi scored on either side of halftime to help D.C. United to a comfortable 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium tonight.

United vs Colorado: United cruise to 2-0 win over Rapids

Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi scored on either side of halftime to help D.C. United to a comfortable 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium tonight. With the win United (6-4-3  21 pts) jumped into a tie for second place with idol Sporting Kansas City, just behind Eastern Conference leaders New York Red Bull (22 pts). United also equaled their win total at RFK from last season in only their seventh match of the season (4-1-2).

Head coach Ben Olsen made a number of changes to the lineup with the Black-and-Red in the midst of a three match in 8-day stretch (all at home). Lewis Neal, Hamdi Salihi and Branko Boskovic were brought into the side in favor of Danny Cruz, Maicon Santos and Chris Pontius and the replacements didn’t miss a beat as all three played a part in both United goals.

In the 24th minute, Neal sent a defense-splitting pass to De Rosario who walked in one-v-one with Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens and the  Canadian sniper slipped it past Pickens for his third goal of the season and the 1-0 lead. United continued to pour on the pressure and if not for the heroics in net by Pickens, United could have arguably been up by four or five goals by halftime. As it was, Pickens made sensational back-t0-back saves on De Ro from 25 yards and the point-blank header from Robbie Russell on the ensuing corner kick just seconds after United took the lead. Najar and Salihi were also stoned by Pickens as the teams went to the break with United leading 1-0.

After the break, Colorado went to 3-5-2 formation and starting pressing forward in search of the equalizer. However, it was United who would score the games remaining goal in fine fashion. Lewis Neal was sent down the left flank on a counter attack in the 60th minute and his pinpoint cross met the head of Boskovic only to see Pickens make another spectacular reaction save. Salihi trailed the play all the way and scooped up the parried shot and scored from the ground as he almost overran the initial shot from Boskovic. The goal was Salihi’s third of the season and was tough luck for his much maligned Designated Player team mate Boskovic. Boskovic certainly deserved better as he arguably played his best game in a United shirt in league play and is certainly worthy of a recall for this weekends match up with win less Toronto FC (0-8-0).

United will take on Toronto FC this Saturday night at 7:30pm at RFK Stadium. The match will be televised locally on Comcast Sportsnet.

United Notes

  • Dejan Jakovic made the subs bench for the first time since injuring his ankle in a 2-0 win over New England in April
  • Maicon Santos (resting), Nick DeLeon (hamstring) and Emiliano Dudar (hamstring) were held out of the 18-man squad
  • Robbie Russell left the match with a suspected groin injury, adding further woes to United’s defensive corp.

 

United vs Houston: United fights hard but falls short in 1-0 loss in new stadium

Brad Davis’ 67th-minute goal was enough to help the Houston Dynamo to their first win in their inaugural game at BBVA Compass Stadium over D.C. United this afternoon in Houston, Texas. The loss was the second in three road matches for United over the course of 10 days. United (5-4-3 18 pts) remains in third place in the Eastern Conference and Houston (3-3-2 11 points) moved up one spot to 6th place in the standings.

In the 67th-minute, Davis picked up a pass thirty yards from goal and was surprised to see himself unmarked and unleashed a bomb that United goalkeeper Bill Hamid did well to get a hand on but not enough to keep it out of the net. Normally defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen would have been in that area of the field but was forced to leave the match midway through the first half with a suspect ACL injury to his right knee that may keep him out for the rest of the season. Nothing has been confirmed by United officials as of yet but Ben Olsen told the NBC SportsNetwork television crew at halfitme that ” it didn’t look good”.

United could muster very little offensively throughout the day with only a chance from Maicon Santos early in the second half and a 93rd-minute desperation header from Daniel Woolard on a free kick being the only dangerous chances all day for the Black-and-Red. United’s misery in Houston is now at a depressing 0-6-1 all-time.

United now has a chance to redeem themselves when they host Colorado on Wednesday evening at RFK Stadium, the beginning of three home matches in 10 days.

Stoppage-time winner sinks United in Season opener

C.J. Sapong’s header off of a corner kick in the 92nd minute gave visiting Sporting Kansas City a 1-0 win over D.C. United tonight in the season opener for both teams at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Sporting Kansas City were deserved if not cruel victors on a night where United could muster very little offensively against the defending Easter Conference Champions. United’s offseason moves brought in a number of players who hopefully will make a difference at some point this season but it bore very little results on a brisk and chilly 43 degree evening.

United were on the defensive for most of the match as they look disjointed offensively, especially reigning league and newly minted Designated Player MVP Dwayne De Rosario. The Canadian just didn’t have a very sharp night and his only contribution on the evening was the setting up of United’s two most dangerous opportunities on either side of halftime by Chris Pontius and substitute Maicon Santos. Both players had a bead on goal but sent their shots wide of the target as the Black-and-Red could only muster a Santos 83rd minute free kick as their one official shot on goal for the entire match.

Meanwhile, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was doing all he could to help keep a clean sheet as he ended up with 7 saves but it was the last shot on goal that eventually doomed United to defeat. United defender Brandon McDonald made a poor attempt to clear a ball from striker Kei Kamara and eventually hauled him down for a free kick at the top of the penalty area about 25 yards away. University of Maryland graduate Graham Zuisi took the free kick and his shot ricocheted off the wall and out for a corner. The ensuing corner was whipped in by the former Terp and it met the noggin of Sapong who steered it towards the far post giving Hamid no chance as United strangely decided to leave that post unguarded.

The stinging loss will have to linger for a while as United are now due to make the 3,000 mile trek to Southern California to take on the champion Los Angeles Galaxy next weekend.

 

United Notes

– Ben Olsen decided not to start Argentine central defender Emiliano Dudar in favor of the McDonald/Dejan Jakovic combination. Olsen gave no explanation after the match as to why that decision was made

– Hamdi Salihi, Robbie Russell, Maicon Santos and Danny Cruz all made their United debuts this evening. Santos and Cruz were second-half substitutes

– 1st Round Superdraft pick Nick DeLeon did not make the final 18-man roster

United’s season is over after 1-0 loss at home to Sporting Kansas City

Matt Besler’s 54th minute goal was enough for visiting Sporting Kansas City in their 1-0 victory over D.C. United last night at RFK Stadium. The loss wraps up the season for United as they were officially eliminated from playoff contention in their last match against the Portland Timbers (1-1 draw) on Wednesday evening. United, who were in the heart of the playoff race just four weeks ago, finished their season losing five of their final six matches and ended up in 7th place in the Eastern Conference.

Sporting Kansas City meanwhile clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference to cap a remarkable turnaround from earlier this season when the team won only one of their first ten matches to start the season. Sporting will now await the result of one of the wild-card playoff matches before they learn their playoff opponent. United meanwhile will live to fight another day as the team has now failed to make the post season for the fourth consecutive year in a row. United had a long way to go after their record setting 2010 campaign for futility. The season overall show improvement in many areas but the single worst detraction was their inability to defend on set pieces and balls that were crossed into the penalty area and tonight was no different.

In the 54th minute, the visitors were taking their 7th corner kick of the match and nearly scored straight off of it when Kei Kamara’s header bounced off the far post. Matt Besler was the most alert of anyone in the area and pounced on the loose ball and made a move to set up his favored left foot and curled a shot into the far corner which gave Bill Hamid no chance. Up to that point in the match it had been a pretty tight affair with United nearly scoring twice in the first half only to see Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen make a pair of stunning saves on Stephen King and Dwayne De Rosario respectively to keep the match level at 0-0.

United did manage to fight back but their other season-long bugaboo (inability to capitalize on golden scoring opportunities) reared it’s ugly head in stoppage time when Josh Wolff’s rocket header clanged off the crossbar in almost symbolic fashion, nicely summarizing United’s season-long frustration of just coming up an inch short.

United is now left to ponder what could have been after squandering a boat load of opportunities throughout the long MLS season.

 

United Notes

– United’s streak of matches without consecutive wins has now reached over two full MLS seasons and stands at 80 matches heading into the 2012 MLS season

– Charlie Davies did not make the field in what could be his last appearance for United. United has a difficult decision in whether or not to buy the striker from FC Sochaux. The decision to buy out his contract is needed by December 1st

– United must now concentrate on choosing what players to protect in the upcoming Expansion Draft on November 23rd. United academy players Hamid, Andy Najar, Conor Shanosky and Ethan White do not have to be protected

Davies hat trick propels United to 3-0 road win over Chivas USA

Charlie Davies broke out of his own personal goal scoring drought in a big with way with all three goals tonight in D.C. United’s 3-0 win over Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. With the win United leapfrogged three MLS teams and into playoff positioning in the 10th position with multiple games in hand on everyone in MLS. However, the win may have come at a steep price as it appeared that midfielder/forward Chris Pontius may by lost for the remainder of the season with a serious lower-leg injury suffered just minutes after assisting on Davie’s third goal in the 66th minute.

Davies got the scoring started in the 9th minute when United was the benefactor of a fortunate bounce off of referee Ricardo Salazar. Juan Pablo Angel, Chivas USA’s recently acquired forward, was trying to safely pass back to his defense when the ball struck Salazar and fell right into the path of Dwayne De Rosario. The Canadian sped into the opposition half of the field and sent a perfect ball down the wing to Pontius. Pontius then centered the ball to the back post where a sliding Davies punched it into the empty net for a 1-0 lead. This was Davies first goal since United’s 2-2 draw at home against Houston back in July. The significance of the goal was not lost as Davies, wearing #9, scored his ninth goal of the season in the 11th minute. All this on the eve of 9-11.

United doubled the lead just four minutes later again benefiting from a defensive mistake. Andy Najar was sent down the right wing by De Rosario and his harmless cross into the box was not cleared well by defender Ben Zemanski and it fell right on the boots of Pontius. Pontius calmly slid the ball to his left to a wide open Davies who converted to make it 2-0 for the Black-and-Red. United made it to halftime but surely should have increased the lead when Davies somehow managed to miss an easy opportunity to make it 3-0 when he sent a shot narrowly wide of the post late in the half after being set up expertly by De Rosario.

Davies did however get his hat trick in the 66th minute with United’s third counter attack goal of the evening. Pontius broke through the Chivas midfield and then was in alone on goal but unselfishly squared the ball to Davies to complete the 3-0 scoreline. Pontius’ night and perhaps his fantastic season may have ended just a few minutes later when he was involved in a nasty collision with Chivas USA defender Davie Lopes. Lopes and Pontius collided and the third-year player from UC Santa Barbara came out the worst for wear with a bad lower leg injury. Suspicion of a broken leg or ankle could end Pontius’ best season to date in MLS.

United will now turn their attention to another West Coast opponent when they face the Seattle Sounders next weekend in Seattle on Saturday, September 17th.

 

United Notes

– Head coach Ben Olsen started Pontius as a forward alongside Davies and inserted Santino Quaranta into the left side of midfield. De Rosario dropped back into the attacking midfield spot

– United was forced to make two injury substitutions as Clyde Simms came off at the half in favor of Stephen King and Marc Burch came on for Pontius

– Bill Hamid seemed to re-aggravate his hamstring injury from the Chicago match two weeks ago early in the match. However, he stayed on the field and had Brandon McDonald take goal kicks. Hamid clearly was favoring his injury as it limited his movement but it didn’t stop him from gaining his sixth shutout of the season