Alvaro Saborio

Terrible start, Fantastic finish as D.C. United top Philadelphia at RFK

Washington, D.C., July 26, 2015 – The bad news – United has waited over a month to play a home game and they fell behind the Philadelphia Union 2-0 inside of four minutes. The good news – there were still eighty-six minutes to go and United used every one of them to their advantage in a stunning 3-2 come-from-behind win at sticky RFK Stadium this afternoon.

Alvaro Saborio, above (Phot0: Martin Fernandez), marked his debut with United with the opening goal of the comeback and Nick DeLeon ended it with his first goal in MLS in over a year as a season-high 19,125 fans were put through the emotional ringer once again. The victory for United (11-7-5, 38 points) pushed their lead in the Eastern Conference to seven points over second place Columbus. It was also the sixth time this season that the Black-and-Red had won after conceding the opening goal of the game. Even more mind blowing than that is that United has only led at halftime of 3 of 22 games this season.

While United will ultimately take a deep breath and enjoy the win, things started out in horrific fashion as defensive lapses led directly to both of the Union’s opening goals. In just the first ten seconds of the match, right back Chris Korb sent a lazy pass that was easily intercepted and eventually channeled to C.J. Sapong just inside the penalty area. Sapong easily brushed off Steve Birnbaum and surprisingly found himself at the penalty spot all alone and beat Andrew Dykstra to his right for a 1-0 lead.

With RFK still reeling from the early deficit, the Union doubled their lead to the disbelief of everyone on and off the field. Chaco Maidana sent a harmless ball to Sebastien Le Toux on United’s right flank. Korb gave the Frenchman a bit too much room as he centered a ball into the heart of the goalmouth. Somehow the ball managed to elude both Sapong and Birnbaum and sleepily tucked into the far post netting for an unthinkable 2-0 lead just four minutes into the game.

Although United were understandably rocked, they soon regained their composure enough to start threatening the Union goal. United got their best opportunity midway through the half when Saborio’s give-and-go with Davy Arnaud ended up with Arnaud being chopped down in the penalty area. Fabian Espindola stepped up to take the PK despite the fact that Chris Rolfe had converted his last two spot kicks. Almost predictably, Espindola sent his shot well over the crossbar to further deflate the crowd.

All was not lost however as Saborio cut the deficit in half in the 37th minute when his volleyed shot from a Korb cross beat Union goalkeeper Brian Slyvestre just inside the near post. Buoyed by that goal United took over the match after the break and it seemed like only a matter of time until they nabbed the equalizer. With the Union pinned down in their own end, United created a number of chances to equalize but were coming just a bit short.

That all changed in the 66th minute when a mountain-sized gorilla was finally lifted off the back of Nick DeLeon. It had been over a year since NDL scored on July 4th of last year and today’s goal couldn’t have come at a better time. Espindola, who had been wreaking havoc on the left flank all half long, made a rare foray into the center of the field and found himself on the ball outside the top of the penalty area. Espindola juked and jived his way into some space to unleash his patented left-footed blast. Slyvestre could only parry the ball away a few feet and that is all DeLeon needed as he slipped the rebound under Sylvestre to level the match at 2-2.

And as has been the case five times at RFK alone this season, United completed the comeback in the 79th minute when Espindola headed down a beautiful cross from Korb for the game-winner. Just seconds earlier, the Union were inches away from taking the lead when Sapong beat Dykstra to a loose ball in the box and his chipped attempt crashed down off the crossbar to set up the sequence that saw United to another head-scratching win.

After that emotional and physical roller coaster ride, United will welcome in Saborio’s old team Real Salt Lake into town next Saturday night at RFK Stadium.


Early Silva goal holds up; Lead extended to six points in the East

Luis Silva’s 10th-minute goal held up as D.C. United fought off a valiant effort from the Philadelphia Union in their 1-0 victory this afternoon at sun-splashed RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. in front of 19, 478 fans.

United (15-9-6, 51 points), playing at home for only the second time all month, extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference standing to six points over the New England Revolution and Sporting Kansas City, both sitting at 45 points after the Revolution went to Kansas City and got a big win last night.

With only four games remaining and Sporting coming to town on Friday night, United is in excellent position to put further distance between themselves and SKC and also move closer to clinching the Eastern Conference title and the automatic CONCACAF Champions League berth that goes with it in the 2015-2016 tournament.

Silva, the teams goalscoring leader with eleven on the season, put the Black-and-Red ahead in the 10th minute thanks to some determined work from Nick DeLeon. DeLeon drove at the Philadelphia defense and worked a cross to the opposite post where Chris Korb pulled the ball down. Korb’s pass to Sean Franklin got caught up in a thicket of players and fortunately rebounded back to him when his one-time left-footed cross met the forehead of Silva who nodded the ball just inside the far post.

United should have doubled the lead a bit later in the first half when Bill Hamid, who posted his ninth shutout of the season (11th overall for United), launched a ball over the Union defense and caught Fabian Espindola in stride. The tricky Argentine striker got to the ball just as Algerian goalkeeper Rais Mbohli was closing the space down and dribbled a shot towards the gaping empty net. However, Union defender Carlos Valdes was on the spot to clear the ball off the line. The play remained alive as Espindola picked up the loose ball and spotted Silva at the penalty spot. Silva’s one-time left-footer was grazed by Mbohli and then cleared again by Valdes off the line to keep the score at 1-0.

With the Union pushing the tempo in the second half, United failed to capitalize on numerous counter attack opportunities, particularly when second-half substitutes Chris Pontius and Eddie Johnson came into the match. Their failure to create any decent chances to put the match away kept the Union in the game as the visitor tried to carve out the game-tying goal. Their best chance came in the 86th minute when Perry Kitchen tripped and fell on the ball just outside the penalty area. Kitchen landed on the ball and was harshly given a yellow card which will keep him out of Friday’s match up with Sporting Kansas City due to an accumulation of yellow’s throughout the season.

Christian Maidana stepped up and sent his shot straight into the wall and United saw the remainder of the match out. The win for United is their 15th win on the season which means they have five times as many matches as they did a year ago (3 wins), a feat that no doubt will be repeated again in MLS any time soon.


United’s easily dispatches Chivas USA in 3-1 win

Eddie Johnson had a goal and an assist to help lead D.C. United to a very comfortable 3-1 win tonight over Chivas USA at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

The win for United (10-5-4, 34 points) is a season-high third straight and helps them keep pace with red-hot Sporting Kansas City who sit just one point ahead of the Black-and-Red at the top of the Eastern Conference. Chivas USA had won four straight matches coming into the game, a match up of two teams that had turned their disappointing 2013 seasons around much faster than anyone had anticipated.

Johnson converted a penalty kick, his second straight game doing so, in the 25th minute after United midfielder Chris Rolfe was barged over in the penalty area by Chivas midfielder Oswaldo Minda.

United nearly doubled and tripled their lead late in the first half when Johnson’s header caromed off the crossbar followed shortly by another header off the crossbar, this time though by a Chivas USA defender.

After the break United continued their domination and once again the Rolfe-Johnson combo provided the game-winner in the 59th minute. Rolfe’s free kick found Johnson deep in the penalty area and the mercurial striker knocked a header down perfectly into the path of Perry Kitchen who’s left-footed blast easily beat goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to his left for his third tally of the season.

If that wasn’t enough, United surely put the game out of reach just over ten minutes later when Chris Korb’s through ball found Luis Silva who easily slipped the ball past Kennedy to give the home side an impressive 3-0 lead. Silva, filling in admirably for injured striker Fabian Espindola, scored his fifth goal in five games.

The only thing left to do was to try to get United goalkeeper Bill Hamid a shutout in his 100th MLS appearance. However that was spoiled in the 84th minute when Chivas USA were awarded a very soft penalty when midfielder Mauro Rosales flopped under very little pressure from United rookie defender Steve Birnbaum.

Erick “Cubo” Torres stepped up and beat Hamid to his right to spoil the shutout bid. Torres’ goal was his 14th of the season and his sixth straight game scoring a goal. Torres was essentially neutralized all night long until his penalty kick opportunity.

United now will have a ten-day break from league play and return to action on Wednesday, July 30th when they welcome Michael Bradley and Toronto FC to town. Before that however, United will fly down to Jacksonville, Florida to take on English side Fulham FC on Saturday night in an exhibition match.

Knowing this, United most likely will take a reserve team down to Florida as they being a hellish month of play with 9 matches in 32 days starting with their tilt with TFC next week.

Chris Pontius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Fire: United douse the Fire in critical Eastern Conference win

Dwayne De Rosario had a goal and an assist to help D.C. United to an important 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire tonight at RFK Stadium. The win for United (12-8-4  40pts) moves them within a point of Chicago (12-8-5) and idle Houston in the fight for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

United’s captain gave the home side the lead in the 19th minute when his far post run met the wayward shot from Chris Pontius for the 1-0 lead. United continued the pressure and was well in control heading into the break when Chicago leveled the match seemingly out of nowhwere.

Dan Paladini was on the end of an impressive bout of interplay in United’s defense third and slotted the ball past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to tie the match in the 44th minute. However, the Black-and-Red did not sulk over their perceived dominance in the match and immediatly responded.

Andy Najar’s mazy run down the right flank and hard work once near the penalty area bought him enough room to whip in a cross that sailed over everyone in the box and fell right onto the head of new United striker Lionard Pajoy. The Colombian powered his header near post giving Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson no chance and United headed to the break with a deserved 2-1 lead.

After the break United continued their dominance of the match and went up 3-1 in the 51st minute on a beautiful headed goal from defender Brandon McDonald. Chicago had cleared a United corner kick but only to Chris Korb who immediately lofted the ball into the far side of the penalty area. McDonald’s cushion header was looped perfectly over the right shoulder of Johnson and settled into the far side netting.

United continued to apply pressure and if not for some fantasic saves from Johnson, United would have blown this match wide open. As it happened though, the Fire got back into the match in the 75th minute when a United defensive breakdown on a free kick allowed the visitors to make it a tense final 15 minutes. Defender Gonzalo Segares was completely unmarked on the back side of a long angled free kick and his diving header beat Bill Hamid to the far post.

United had numerous opportunities to extend their lead but yet again Johnson came up huge on efforts from De Rosario, Pontius (twice) and Najar. However, United’s pressure finally did payoff in the 89th minute when Long Tan was the benefactor of hard work by De Rosario down the left flank. De Rosario forced his way deep into the penalty area and centered a ball for Tan and his admittedly tame shot should have been easily saved by Johnson but the spin on the ball eluded the goalkeeper and ended up in the side netting for the first goal for Tan with United.

United easily saw out the remainder of stoppage time and did very well to help soothe the bad feelings from this past Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union.

Up next for a very busy United is a trip to Canada to face the red-hot Montreal Impact. Montreal is currently on a four match winning streak including impressive home wins versus Red Bull New York and league leading San Jose just this past weekend.

United vs Columbus: Poor play continues as United fall in Columbus

Clearly D.C. United is struggling.

Another lackluster performance from D.C. United leads to back-to-back losses on the road as they fell 1-0  to the Columbus Crew tonight in Columbus, OH. The loss is the second straight for United on the road and the second consecutive poor effort from the Black-and-Red coming off a two-week break.

Chris Burchall scored thirty seconds into second half to help lead the home side to a victory as United continues to slide down the standings in the Eastern Conference. United has fallen from 1st place two weekends ago to 4th place in the suddenly congested Eastern Conference. While the two-game skid has hampered United, they are still comfortably in a playoff position.

United’s only credible threat on goal was Chris Pontius’ header late in the first half that was comfortably saved by Andy Greenenbaum. United did threaten mildly in the second half but Dwayne De Rosario and United debut player Long Tan went wide with decent efforts towards goal and Chris Korb’s 88th minute shot off the post was all the United could muster.

United’s sporadic schedule over the past 8 weeks hasn’t helped the team to gain any kind of consistency and their form away from RFK Stadium has been reflective of that. United has been on the end of two different two-week breaks in the schedule and they haven’t adjusted very well coming out of the layoffs. United has loss 3 of 5 matches since a three-game home winning stand in late May. You could make the argument that they should have lost 4 out of 5 since then as their win in Philadelphia was against the run of play and basically the start of their poor run of form excluding their 3-0 win at home against Montreal on June 30th.

Head coach Ben Olsen made five changes to the lineup coming off their 4-0 loss in Houston last weekend. The changes however had little effect on the team and they let a poor Columbus side take the three points at home with minimul effort.

United now will play their requisite International friendly next weekend at RFK against Paris Saint-Germain. Some would say that it couldn’t come at a worse time considering their poor form since mid-June.

United’s next league match will be against this same Columbus Crew squad on Saturday, August 4th.

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

Episode 100 – Celebration

Join the guys on the 100th episode of the podcast. Randy Ruff joins the guys for a little reminiscence of the last few years with the show. The boys review DC United’s last two league matches and look ahead to next weeks’ match against Dallas. They also go over the MLS Scoreboard and the rest of the action across the league.