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One of our show tangents - Does Reis look more like uncle Fester or Gru? you decide...

Episode 89 – Reis: Gru or Uncle Fester?

Join the guys for episode 89 of the UnitedMania.com podcast. The guys talk about DC United’s last couple of games, including the win at San Jose and the entertaining yet Bizarre 3-3 draw at RFK Stadium against the visiting Toronto FC. The boys talk about other MLS News, the MLS scoreboard and the current situation with US Soccer, including the release of Bob Bradley and the hiring of Juergen Klinsmann…

DC United's Dwayne De Rosario keeps his eye on the ball. DeRo's hat trick against his former team saved United from another loss at RFK. Photo: Tony Quinn.

Late penalty, hat trick from De Rosario save United in controversal 3-3 draw with Toronto FC

DC United's Dwayne De Rosario keeps his eye on the ball. DeRo's hat trick against his former team saved United from another loss at RFK. Photo: Tony Quinn.

DC United’s Dwayne De Rosario keeps his eye on the ball. DeRo’s hat trick against his former team saved United from another loss at RFK. Photo: Tony Quinn.

Dwayne De Rosario scored three times for D.C. United, including an 88th minute penalty conversion just a minute after falling behind,  in their controversial 3-3 draw last night against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium. United’s quest to win back-to-back league matches now stands at 26 months and counting. With Toronto and fellow bottom of the table strugglers Vancouver Whitecaps coming to town in back-to-back weeks, it seemed the right time to finally string together wins.

A couple of red cards, poor attentiveness from the lead match official and a few goalkeeping blunders later, United stands frustrated with their 3-3 draw. De Rosario gave United the lead in the 19th minute when he laced a shot from 25 yards that seemed to skip off the wet gloves of  TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei and into the net. United had taken the lead after their young goalkeeper Bill Hamid was sent off for a reckless and unnecessary challenge in just the 7th minute. It seemed that United defender Brandon McDonald had things under control in attempting to defend TFC midfielder Eric Avila. However, Hamid inexplicably charged out of the penalty area and upended Avila and was rightfully sent off, leaving United shorthanded for the next 83 minutes.

After United struggled to keep the clean sheet until halftime, TFC started pouring the pressure on and got their equalizer in the 52nd minute due to sheer luck. A cross from the left side of the field came into the box and Hamid’s backup goalkeeper Steve Cronin attempted to punch the ball clear but sent it off the back of McDonald into the path of the very willing TFC substitute Peri Marosevic who only had to poke it into the empty net. United soon took the lead back with their own bit of fortune in the 64th minute when Chris Pontius’ pass seemed destined to be cleared by TFC defender Andy Iro only to see it somehow wiggle through his legs and into the path of De Rosario who faked a shot and rounded Frei and deposited the ball into the empty net to give the home side the 2-1 lead.

However, in the 69th minute all Hell broke loose on the field. Ethan White was at midfield awaiting to be brought on for the injured Brandon McDonald. Referee Jason Anno waved White onto the field but only allowed him a few steps before telling TFC to move the play along. TFC quickly took the throw-in and a pass made it to the feet of Julian De Guzman and his 22 yard shot somehow got past Cronin’s hands and into the goal. United head coach Ben Olsen exploded off the bench and immediately wanted to know why White was not allowed to assume his position on the field.

D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen shows his displeasure towards the officiating staff, Unitde's Santino Quaranto also chimes in. Photo: Tony Quinn.

D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen shows his displeasure towards the officiating staff, Unitde’s Santino Quaranto also chimes in. Photo: Tony Quinn.”

Anno did not hesitate to send Olsen off and had to fight off questions from essentially the entire United team in how he could overlook such a routine situation. One train of thought that coursed through the halls and in the media after the match was that Anno mistook White for McDonald and was waiving him onto the field and thus the reason for not blowing the whistle to restart play, which is a requirement of the Laws of the Game when bringing a substitute into a match.

Controversy aside, twenty minutes still remained in the match and all seemed lost for the Black-and-Red when another goalkeeping misplay gave the visitors a 3-2 lead in the 87th minute. A poor clearance from a clearly tiring United defense saw the ball land at the feet of TFC’s newest Designated Player Danny Koevermans. The Dutchman’s shot was right at Cronin who again seemed to misjudge the shot and it squeaked over the goal line for what surely seemed the winning goal.

However, on a night when United seemingly were against the wall in all matters, they struck again thanks to some aggressive play from substitute Austin Da Luz. Right from the kickoff, Da Luz made his way down the left flank and before he knew it, he was alone against only Frei with the goal at his mercy. Frei made the initial save and was scrambling to get back into the goal when the rebound came right to Da Luz again. This time though, Andy Iro clumsily clattered into the back of Da Luz and Anno made his one right call of the night in awarding United a penalty. De Rosario stepped up and nailed the shot for a 3-3 scoreline.

United nearly won the match just a minute later when Chris Pontius, savaged with constant cramping the final 20 minutes, made a big run towards the TFC goal only to see him tackled off the ball just inside the box. The ball rebounded right into the stride of De Rosario who had Frei one-v-one and his fourth goal and the game-winning goal on his foot only to see his rushed shot trickle wide of the right post. Ethan White had a free header 6 minutes into stoppage time but his shot was easily saved by Frei to end one of the most unforgettable nights in RFK and United history.

United Notes

  • Referee Jason Anno has been known to throw around some red cards in his brief MLS career. After tonight’s two red cards handed out, Anno has issued an astonishing 19 red cards in 29 matches
  • Because of the early red card to Bill Hamid, Stephen King drew the short straw and has his night end after only 7 minutes. Also because of that move, Ben Olsen was down to two moves to make and Charlie Davies never made it off the bench
  • Santino Quaranta was a surprise starter in the lineup this evening after being out for over two months with concussion symptoms. Quaranta said he felt just fine, if not a bit tired after the match. He was not expected to go the full 90 minutes but with the early red card, he had to suck it up for the team

De Rosario double helps United to 2-0 win in San Jose

Two second-half goals from captain Dwayne De Rosario helped visiting D.C. United to a 2-0 win over the punch less San Jose Earthquakes last night at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University. The win was the first for United in the greater San Jose area since a 4-0 win in 1998 when current United coach Ben Olsen was a rookie. United exacted a bit of revenge on the Quakes for their 4-2 hammering of United at RFK Stadium last month. It certainly helped that the man who single handily destroyed United on that night, Steven Lenhart, was not in the lineup due to personal reasons. His three goal and one assist performance that night was the last time the Quakes won an MLS match, now going 8 games without a win (0-4-4).

United were the more dangerous side through the first 45 minutes narrowly missing out on two golden chances from Blake Brettshcneider and De Rosario a few minutes apart but it was the home side that had the only shot on goal courtesy of an Alan Gordon weak header attempt in the 41st minute.

Hardly a minute into the second half, United finally registered their first attempt on goal through De Rosario’s left-footed blast from 22 yards. That was a harbinger of things to come as the Canadian finally put United ahead in the 57th minute. Andy Najar, United’s most effective player for United up until the goal, sent a ball over the top for De Rosario. The former Earthquake benefited from a slip by Quakes defender Nana Attakora and he was alone in on goal. With defensive help closing him down, De Rosario let loose a shot from the 22 yards that hit the underside of the crossbar and settled into the goal for a well deserved 1-0 lead for the visitors.

United has struggled all season long in building on their advantages but tonight was different when De Rosario scored again in the 67th minute thanks to his teamwork with Chris Pontius. Pontius and De Rosario worked a well-crafted give-and-go along the left flank with Pontius racing along the end line towards the penalty area. Pontius’ pin point pass met De Rosario in stride and his right-footed missile found the upper 90 to Jon Busch’s left and gave United a rare two-goal lead.

United were in firm control but potential disaster struck in the 70th minute when Najar was sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity. San Jose sub Joey Gjertens got behind United’s defense with no one in sight for the Black-and-Red. Najar raced back to attempt to tackle the ball away but his clumsy challenge left the referee with no choice to send Najar off. Najar will now miss their home match versus struggling Toronto FC next weekend at RFK Stadium.

With 20 minutes still left to play, United were forced to bunker in and keep the clean sheet to escape with a valuable road win. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid helped his own cause with a fantastic one-v-one save on Chris Wondolowski in the 80th minute which all but deflated the already suffering home side. Hamid marshaled his goal area the rest of the way and got his 6th shutout of the season. United now has a 4-3-3 record on the road this season, including two West Coast wins. United now has a golden opportunity to garner their first tw0-game winning streak in over two years when they host Toronto FC next weekend.

 

United Notes

– Dejan Jakovic made his much welcomed return to the starting lineup tonight. Ethan White made way for Jakovic who hadn’t played since United’s 3-2 win in Portland on May 29th

– Brettschneider and De Rosario were the unlikely forward duo last night due to the continuing injuries to Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies. Joseph Ngwenya also was ruled out due to injury, though Davies did make the 18-man roster

United and FC Dallas tie 0-0 for second time this season

In a match that very much resembled the oppressive humidity in Frisco, Texas, D.C. United and FC Dallas slugged their way to a 0-0 draw tonight at Pizza Hut Park. Both teams wilted in the hot and humid conditions and offered very little in terms of quality. This is the second time this season that these teams have drawn 0-0 but unlike in the first match at RFK in early May, this one seemed destined for a scoreless draw from the jump. While their first match up offered missed chances by United to win early and late, this match had little going for it for either side.

Andy Najar offered United’s only credible threat the entire evening when his first half shot from 22 yards was easily saved by Kevin Hartman. United’s goalkeeper Bill Hamid didn’t have much to do either though two moments late in the second half nearly gave the home side the win. United rookie defender Ethan White was caught with too much time on the ball at midfield and was stripped by FC Dallas forward Marvin Chavez. As the tiny Honduran raced in alone on goal, Hamid came out to apply pressure and forced a weak effort that went well wide of the goal much to the relief of White and his United team mates.

FC Dallas nearly won the match in the 88th minute when Jackson’s lunging stab at a long diagonal ball bounced over Hamid and clipped off the top of the crossbar and over the goal to seal the match at 0-0. United now has gone 3-1-7 in their last 11 matches as their slow climb up the Eastern Conference table continues.

United will now turn their attention to a Wednesday night match up with the struggling New England Revolution at RFK Stadium.

 

United Notes

– Josh Wolff did not play due to lingerie issues with a balky hamstring. His availability for Wednesday is unknown. Joseph Ngwenya got the start in his place and produced very little

– Fred, originally thought to be playing his last match in a United uniform, has agreed to stay for one more match to help with United’s thin squad thanks to recent injuries

– Tonight’s 0-0 draw was the 24th scoreless tie of the season in MLS, a league record which no doubt will climb over 30 matches by seasons end. The old record for one season was 21

– Charlie Davies was subbed out early for the second match in a row and is struggling to produce any threat for United in recent matches

De Rosario pays immediate dividends in United’s 1-0 road win against Red Bull

Dwayne De Rosario’s 61st minute goal against the run of play was all D.C. United needed tonight in their 1-0 win against their bitter rivals New Red Bull at Red Bull Arena. United, which had blown leads late in their previous two league matches to salvage draws, desperately hung on to all three points tonight with a compact defense and the occasional counter attack to keep host Red Bull honest. The much talked about and anticipated match up just a week after the trade that send De Rosario from Red Bull to United for Dax McCarty clearly came down in the Black-and-Red’s favor for this night as McCarty did not have a good match.

After a relatively even first 45 minutes with United getting the only serious chance at goal when Charlie Davies shot was saved off the line by Tim Ream in the 45th minute, the match tilted in New York’s favor right out of the gate in the second half. Thierry Henry had New York’s best opportunity of the evening in the 50th minute when he latched on to a poor back pass misplayed by defenders Brandon McDonald and Ethan White. The league’s leading scoring took one touch and sent a low liner to the opposite post but the quick reflexes of United goalkeeper Bill Hamid smothered the shot and he quickly pounced on the rebound to diffuse any potential follow-ups.

Ten minutes later however United got the game-winner against the run of play but it was almost lost as soon as it started. Andy Najar collected the ball on the right wing and his first touch seemed destined to be a turnover but quick thinking on his part got him to toe-poke the ball in the direction of De Rosario. De Rosario dummied the ball through his legs and Dax McCarty fell for it. De Rosario immediately pivoted towards goal and Josh Wolff’s pass hit the Canadian in stride and his left-footed blast hit the far post and carried across the goal mouth and settled into the opposite side netting to give United the 1-0 lead.

United continued to defend for the remainder of the match and while Red Bull didn’t have any clear cut chances, it wasn’t for a lack of trying by the home side.  United’s defense has been under heavy scrutiny all season long and was magnified by the back-to-back matches at home to Philadelphia and Houston in which they gave up goals late to draw matches that should have been won. As has been seen on occasion this season, while the defense is capable of giving up 4-goal stinkers, they have also managed to pitch four shutouts, including tonight’s whitewash of their bitter rivals.

United will now turn their attention towards a tough road match against FC Dallas next Saturday evening at 9pm. This match will be televised by ComcastSportsNet.

 

United Notes

– United ended two streaks for Red Bull tonight. Red Bull suffered their first home shutout of the season and also snapped an MLS-record string of 15 straight matches with scoring a goal in the first half.

– Even though the season series ended up with a win for each side, Red Bull won the Atlantic Cup for the second season in a row thanks to their 4-1 aggregate score over their two matches. New York hammered United 4-0 at RFK on April 21st

 

Davies late penalty earns United a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake

Charlie Davies’ 85th minute penalty kick conversion afforded D.C. United a 1-1 draw against undermanned Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah this evening. Plenty of discussion will come post game on the merits of United earning the draw as Charlie Davies clearly dove to draw favor from referee Terry Vaughn. Davies stepped up and just barely got the ball underneath former United goalkeeper Nick Rimando to level the match.Vaughn had earlier awarded the home team a penalty in the first half when Clyde Simms’ sliding tackle prevented the ball from getting past him and inadvertently hitting his arm.

Fabian Espindola stepped up and sent United keeper Bill Hamid the wrong way to give RSL the 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. Up until that point, United had done well to take the game to RSL as they were missing a number of key players including stalwart midfield maestro Javier Morales (out for another 4 months with ankle injury) and star striker Alvaro Saborio (Gold Cup duty for Costa Rica). As what usually happens when the Black-and-Red visit RSL, the home side started to turn the tide and dominate possession though their chances on goal were few and far between after taking the 1-0 lead.

After halftime United coach Ben Olsen subbed out Clyde Simms in favor of Dax McCarty and it seemed to stem RSL and gave United a few opportunities to get into the match. In the 52nd minute United nearly leveled the match as a nice passing sequence led to a Blake Brettschneider back heel setup for Chris Pontius who’s 27 -yard screamer slammed off the crossbar. Both teams were really not putting much forth after that and the game seemed to be heading for yet another disappointing finish for United.

That is of course until Charlie Davies latched onto a ball heading deep into RSL territory. The speedy striker got into the box and appeared to have dove over the legs of an RSL defender and United shockingly were awarded the penalty. After Davies tied the match, the visitors actually were another crossbar away from stealing 3 points on a well worked free kick from the edge of the box. Andy Najar stood over the ball and sent a square pass to the middle of the penalty area where once again Pontius whacked the shot off the crossbar and out of bounds nearly giving United a dramatic late win.

As it stands, United will gladly take the road point and head back to D.C. and look forward to a rematch with the Houston Dynamo who thumped United 4-1 in Houston in late April.

Josh Wolfe vs Seattle Sounders

United snaps two-game losing skid with gritty 2-1 win over Seattle

Charlie Davies vs Seattle Sounders

CHarlie Davies. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies (left) both scored on either side of halftime to help D.C. United to a hard fought 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders last night at chilly RFK Stadium. A season-low 11,254 fans turned out in brisk 52 degree weather to see the Black-and-Red snap a two-game losing streak in which they had given up 8 goals and a 3-game losing streak to Seattle at RFK overall.

Josh Wolff got the scoring started in the 31st minute of sloppy first half between both sides. Andy Najar set Charlie Davies loose down the right flank and Davies appeared to have gotten away with a slight push which sent Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to the turf. Davies raced towards the end line and hit a perfectly weighted square pass along the ground to far post where Wolff buried his second goal of the season. United nearly doubled their lead four minutes later when rookie Perry Kitchen’s low line drive was somehow saved by Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller.

After the half time break, both teams settled into the match with a much more crisp display of soccer and United did indeed double their lead thanks to a eerily similar build up to their first goal. This time though, Najar dribbled his way seemingly through the entire Seattle defense and tapped a ball out to the wing for Wolff who one-timed a beautiful curling pass to the far post where Davies’ sliding effort poked the ball home for a 2-0 United lead.

Considering recent events with United’s defense, things were going to get interesting especially after Seattle was awarded a penalty in the 70th minute, just two minutes after United were denied what seemed to be a sure penalty when Kitchen was steamrolled in Seattle’s penalty area. Brad Evans stepped up and sent United keeper Bill Hamid the wrong way to halve the deficit.

United’s much maligned defensive unit however did a good job of keeping Seattle off the scoreboard for the final 20 minutes of the match but not without difficulty. United’s defending on free kicks continues to be an adventure as Seattle nearly equalized on numerous occasions only to see the ball go narrowly wide of goal or deflect off a player and go out of bounds. Bill Hamid came up with a number of saves to keep United on the winning side of the ledger, the best of them coming just two minutes after Seattle had scored their penalty. A Seattle counter attack saw the ball played from the right flank over United’s defense to the back post where an unmarked Alvaro Fernandez’s bullet header was tipped over the bar by Hamid to keep the match at 2-1.

With Seattle pressing forward, United did a very good job of keeping possession of the ball and out of the hands of the visitors over the final 10 minutes and rode the game out and gained a valuable three points to help soothe the frayed nerves of the players, coaches and fans. Up next for United is FC Dallas on Saturday night at RFK Stadium.

 

United Notes

– Marc Burch failed a late fitness test and was out of the 18-man roster. Daniel Woolard started at left back and played very well

– Chris Pontius left the match in the 49th minute when his calf tightened up on him. Pontius got kicked in the calf last week against Houston but it lingered after the halftime break and he was removed as a precaution. My guess is that he won’t be available on Saturday

– Clyde Simms cramped up late in the match and was replaced by Steven King who got his first MLS minutes of the season

Photo: Matt Mathai

United cruise to 3-0 win in Toronto

Chris Pontius scored on either side of halftime and Charlie Davies scored his MLS leading 5th goal of the season in D.C. United’s surprisingly comfortable 3-0 win tonight against Toronto FC at BMO Field. United jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes of the match and never looked back. The win was United’s first road win of the 2011 season and their second straight shutout against TFC at BMO Field going back to last September’s 1-0 win.

United, which hadn’t scored in the first half all season long, got things going in the 5th minute when Pontius picked up a loose defensive clearance in the middle of the field about 40 yards from goal. He easily glided past two TFC defenders and sent his left-footed shot to the far post and past helpless goalkeeper Stephan Frei to give United the 1-0 lead.

In the 10th minute United doubled their lead from a woeful mistake from the TFC defense. Toronto FC left-back Danleigh Borman sent an inexplicable pass square across midfield to a grateful Charlie Davies. Davies plowed towards goal and when TFC’s central defenders converged on him he deftly slipped a ball to his left to a wide open Josh Wolff, who took one touch and went to the same far post that resulted in the first goal. But Frei was up to the task this time and his outstretched foot got to the ball. However, Davies pounced on the rebound and rifled the ball into the empty net for a 2-0 lead for the Black-and-Red.

With the luxury of a two-goal lead, United sat back and absorbed TFC’s pressure and was happy throwing in the occasional counter attack to keep the Red Patch Boys off balance. United got to the halftime whistle with relative ease and their 2-0 lead.

Right out of the gate in the second half TFC did themselves no favors when Ty Harden was rightfully sent off when he hacked down Pontius who would have been in on goal all alone. The resulting red card was the right call as the thousands on hand at BMO vociferously disagreed. With the state of refereeing in MLS being the #1 topic amongst fans and players so far this season, it seems this call was spot on.

However, United didn’t immediately take advantage of the situation and allowed TFC their most dangerous moments of the night. Although Toronto’s offensive chances came basically from free kicks and long throw-ins, United’s defense certainly was a bit creaky and for the second week in a row, rookie central defender Ethan White cleared a ball off the goal line to help preserve United’s 2-0 lead.

Pontius put the final nail in the coffin in the 73rd thanks to a wonderful goal that was set up by the hustle of United midfielder Fred. The Brazilian snuck in on his defender and poked the ball away instantly setting off a United counter. Fred dribbled to the top of the penalty area and laid off a ball to Pontius on the left wing. Pontius took one touch then cut back on defender Dan Gargan and curled a beautiful right-footed blast past Frei for the final goal in United’s emphatic 3-0 win.

With the win, United vaults off the bottom of the Eastern Conference table and temporarily into second place in the East (other matches were still to be concluded as of press time). United now turns their attention to their most bitter of rivals when the star-studded New York Red Bull come to town on Thursday evening at 8 pm EST. The match will be televised live on ESPN2.

United Notes

– Andy Najar was left off the 18-man roster due to flu-like symptoms. His status for the Red Bull match is unknown at this time.

– Perry Kitchen was subbed in for Dejan Jakovic in the second half and United were playing with 3 out of the 4 defenders being rookie players for the last 25 minutes of the match. No reason was given for Jakovic’ substitution

United seeking first road win in Toronto

D.C. United travels north of the border on Saturday night to take on division rivals Toronto FC at BMO Field at 7:00 pm EST (match can be seen on Fox Soccer Channel) trying to pick up their first road win of the season. United, 1-2-1 on the season and in last place in the Eastern Conference need a win to boost not only their standing in the division but their morale heading into a fiery rival match at home versus New York Red Bull a week from Thursday.

United have not fared well so far this season on the road with a pair of losses in New England (2-1) and in frigid Colorado (4-1) continuing a disturbing road trend over the past 3 plus seasons. Including the two games so far this season, United has won only 7 of 32 matches on the road in that span and quite frankly it hasn’t been pretty. Ironically, United’s last road win was in Toronto last October on Julius James’ late second-half goal in a 1-0 win that all but thrashed TFC’s fading playoff hopes from last season.

Both teams have gone through big changes during the offseason that have altered their lineups considerably. TFC is without bona-fide United killer Dwayne DeRosario as he was traded to Red Bull three weeks ago. That trade has left a considerable hole in the middle of the admittedly weak offense of TFC. Alan Gordon and Maicon Santos have lead the front line this season but both were held out of last night’s 0-0 home draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy, the third consecutive draw for TFC in this early part of the season. Both are expected back in the lineup on Saturday night and along with the talented right winger Javier Martina and on-loan midfielder Alen Stevanovich, TFC can cause some problems for United and their defense which will welcome back defender Perry Kitchen who has missed the past 3 matches with the U-20 National Team and illness last Saturday night against the Galaxy.

United has offensive problems of their own as they created precious little against the Galaxy and have only scored one goal in each of their last three outings, two of which were stoppage time penalties converted by Charlie Davies. Speaking of Davies, this match will most likely see his first ever start with the Black-and-Red as he has been coming off the bench since the start of the season. Look for other changes in United’s lineup as Fred looks to be the man to take the suspended Santino Quaranta’s (red card against the Galaxy) right midfield spot, Kitchen slips back into central defense in place of Ethan White who had an outstanding MLS debut in effectively shutting down Juan Pablo Angel on Saturday as well as the aforementioned Davies taking the spot from Blake Brettschneider.

Putting on my prognosticators cap and trying to handicap this match isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I will take one for the team and make a prediction none the less. I see United coming in against a tired Toronto team (third match in 7 days) that simply hasn’t figured out what they want to do offensively just yet, aside from lumping the ball forward. Their preferred 4-3-3 formation is almost alien to MLS as most teams stick with the traditional 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 lineups.

So far this season United has been able to control the tempo in most of their matches, bending the play to their will, but not cashing in on the admittedly few chances they have created (i.e, – lot’s of possession, not much to show for it). However, I see an opportunity for United to build some confidence by getting an early goal (United haven’t scored in the first half this season yet) and forcing TFC to scramble. If United can somehow prevent that back breaking lack of concentration on defense that has been prevelent this season, I see them frustrating the home side and United adding an insurance goal late on for a 2-0 win.

As always, do not take this for Gospel as my record as a predictor is mediocre at best, which by the way pummels anything Mike Martin predicts on this site.

 

UPDATE: It now appears that Perry Kitchen might not make the trip now as he is still feeling the effects of his return trip from Guatemala. According to team officials he’s lost some weight and had to sit out a few training sessions this week. If Kitchen is unfit to go, expect Ethan White to step back into the lineup on Saturday.

United earns hard fought 1-0 win over Toronto FC

Admit it.

 For a few moments in today’s 1-0 victory for D.C. United at Toronto FC, the season-long script of misery was playing itself out once again. United dominated possession, dominated the scoring chances and had a mind-numbing miss in the second half that seemed to be a hallmark of their dismal 2010 campaign.

Julius’s James’ 81st minute goal changed all that and the Black-and-Red got themselves a well deserved victory. While the win will do little for United’s miniscule playoff chances, the mere fact that they finally rewarded themselves for good play could give this team what it has had very little of this season – some confidence.

The game-winning goal came about when Danny Allsopp won a free kick near the right side corner flag. Second half substitute Branko Boskovic sent a whipped in ball that Allsopp got the slightest touch to. The ball fell to the feet of James who showed remarkable composure in waiting for the defender to commit before blasting a left-footed shot to the far post.

That composure was needed earlier in the match when United had a number of opportunities to take the lead. Allsopp and Pablo Hernandez worked a very nice give-and-go that left Allsopp all alone in the box but Toronto FC goalkeeper Stephen Frei did well to come out and smother the shot to keep the game at 0-0.

Just minutes into the second half United should have taken the lead. Andy Najar got loose at the top of the penalty area and managed to work his way through two defenders with only Frei to beat. Najar made the correct choice in slotting the ball to his left to a wide open Santino Quaranta but he over hit his pass forcing Quaranta to try and slide to meet the ball. Quaranta’s effort went agonizingly wide of the open goal and you could sense a seasons worth of frustration starting to build for United with that miss.

United did manage to overcome that miss unlike in previous matches this season and put the pressure on the home side that still has a decent chance to make the playoffs. The loss however will be a dagger blow to Toronto FC as they were facing the last place team in the league who was having trouble scoring goals. Toronto did not seem to show any urgency until they fell behind late in the match and while there were a few troubling chances for the home side, goalkeeper Troy Perkins and his defense were rock solid in keeping the clean sheet.

United Notes

  • Clyde Simms was a late scratch when he pulled up with an injury in pregame warmups
  • Boskovic made a substitute appearance after helping Montenegro to two wins in European Qualification during the past week.
  • D.C. United will be facing Western Conference leader, La Galaxy, on Saturday September 18 at the Home Depot Center. Fans of sports betting sites should take into account United’s win over Toronto FC when placing bets.
  • D.C. United announced that Bill Hamid, United’s 19-year-old goalkeeper, will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum on his right shoulder effectively ending his season. Hamid has started eight games for the Black-and-Red but has been struggling with shoulder pain all season.