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United advance to Semi-finals after frenzied 2-1 win over the Revolution

Washington, D.C., October 29, 2015 – With the already rich playoff history between D.C. United and the New England Revolution at hand, was there any surprise that last night’s classic tilt would be any different?

D.C. United once again came from behind to snatch a 2-1 win over the Revs and advance to the semi-final round of the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. United will find out later this evening whether top seed Red Bull or #2 seed Columbus will come to town on Sunday afternoon to begin their home-and-home total goals series.

Chris Pontius’ header at the death in the first half and Chris Rolfe’s redemption strike in the 83rd minute cancelled out Juan Agudelo’s stunning world-class bicycle kick goal in the 15th minute at soggy RFK Stadium. This game had it all. Shots off the crossbar, the post, brilliant saves from both Bill Hamid and Bobby Shuttleworth and of course, controversy from official Mark Geiger.

Geiger awarded a penalty kick to United in the 74th minute when an Alvaro Saborio cross into the area deflected off the arm of Revs midfielder Kelyn Rowe. Unfortunately the normally reliable Rolfe (4 for 4 this season up to this point) hit his PK attempt off the inside of the post and out. Geiger again would be the center of attention in stoppage time when he waved off a hand ball claim in United’s area when Jermaine Jones attempted to cross and the ball clearly hit the arm of United defender Sean Franklin. Jones went ballistic at the no-call and chased Geiger down and made considerable contact with Geiger who immediately ejected the U.S. International. The sequence brought to mind a similar incident at the end of United’s playoffs last season when Fabian Espindola made contact with an assistant referee and was red carded. Espindola was then given a 6-game ban from MLS for those actions. One would believe that Jones’ punishment should be similar.

The game itself started out fast and furious and never let up through the final whistle. Chris Rolfe had the games first opportunity in the 4th minute when he ghosted in alone on Shuttleworth only to see his shot expertly kick-saved. Then came the moment that MLS fans will talk about for years. In the 15th minute a well worked passing sequence ended on the right foot of Kevin Alston on the wing. His one-time cross curled away from the line of players in the box. Agudelo tracked it and cracked a bicycle-kick from 16 yards out that left Hamid with no chance. Arguably the best goal ever scored in an MLS playoff game and incidentally the second bicycle kick goal scored by Agudelo at RFK. His first came when he was with Red Bull in 2011.

United can thank Bill Hamid for keeping them in the match because he was forced into back-to-back saves on Rowe within a minute of each other to keep United’s hopes alive. United responded in kind and should have equalized in the 21st minute when Espindola missed an open goal after latching onto a rebound save from a Chris Rolfe shot. Rolfe also had a near miss in the 26th minute when he skinned Revs defender Andrew Farrell only to see his left-foot shot hit the crossbar from close range.

As the half closed United were starting to take over the tempo of the match and the Black-and-Red got the precious equalizer just seconds before the halftime whistle. Espindola drew a foul along side the left side of the penalty area and his ensuing free kick found Pontius at the penalty spot. Pontius had to lean back and his header was perfectly placed into the far side netting to level the match at 1-1.

After the break the visitors regained control of the match and while Hamid didn’t have to make any critical saves, the Revs were buzzing around United’s goal. The pace had slowed considerably from the frenetic first 45 minutes as now both teams existence in the playoffs were at stake. After the ruckus in the 84th minute and the missed PK by Rolfe, it was Rolfe who would step up to nab the game-winner in the 83rd minute thanks to some enterprising play from Nick DeLeon and Espindola. DeLeon, who had struggled throughout the match, got hold of a ball outside the area and managed to hold on long enough for Espindola to overlap him. DeLeon’s clever back-heel set Espindola free and his pin-point pass between three Revs defenders found Rolfe all alone at the top of the goal box for an easy tap-in that sent the 11, 554 rain-soaked fans into delirium.

Just seconds after the Geiger/Jones confrontation, Geiger blew the final whistle and D.C. United had advanced in another playoff tilt with the Revolution.

United will now await the winner of tonight’s Montreal vs TFC match in Montreal. If the Impact win, United will face Red Bulls on Sunday. If TFC wins, the Crew, fresh off their 5-0 beatdown of United this past Sunday, will come to town.

United’s winless streak hits six matches after 2-0 loss to Montreal

Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 26, 2015 – D.C. United entered their match in Montreal on Saturday desperately needing a result to turn around their winless September in league play.

Two Didier Drogba highlight reel goals inside the first 11 minutes put rest to that wish as the Montreal Impact strolled to a comfortable 2-0 victory yesterday afternoon at Stade Sapudo. Once again United were the creators of their own demise when two critical defensive errors paved the path for both of Drogba’s sensational goals. The 37-year old striker has scored 7 goals in 6 league matches since signing with Montreal during the summer transfer window and an argument could be made that both goals on display were his best.

Montreal got on the score sheet in just the 4th minute after Taylor Kemp was whistled for a handball about 30 yards outside the area in front of goal. There was initial confusion on the play after Kemp badly misplayed a seemingly harmless clearance when it hit his left arm. Montreal striker Dominic Oduro picked up the loose ball and tried to round United goalkeeper Bill Hamid who successfully made the save and then cleared the ball out of play. However, referee Jair Maruffo called for the play to come back to the initial hand ball spot from Kemp. United felt undone as it seemed advantaged was played then taken back. After the match however it was confirmed that Maruffo had indeed blown the play dead at the time of the handball and was not going to allow the goal to stand had Oduro scored.

Drogba stepped up on the ensuing free kick and hit a masterful upper 90 shot that Hamid could only get his fingertips to as the ball ricocheted off the post and in for the early 1-0 lead. Perhaps the biggest sign of United’s continual problems during this season is the fact that the team has now given up an astonishing 10 goals this season inside the first five minutes of a game. No one in MLS is even close to United in that regard.

So, United is once again forced to play from behind and chase the match. Things got doubly worse just seven minutes later when Markus Halsti attempted a foolish back pass under heavy pressure from Montreal midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. With teammates available in multiple directions to unload a simple pass, Halsti inexplicably tried to push the ball all the way back to Hamid in goal. The pass was criminally under hit and fell into the path of Drogba who only had United defender Steve Birnbaum to beat. Drogba easily juked Birnbaum out of his shorts just inside the penalty area and calmly lifted a shot over the onrushing Hamid for the 2-0 lead.

United should have cut the deficit in half just sixty seconds later but Chris Rolfe couldn’t control the rebound of a Fabian Espindola angled shot that was saved by Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush right into the path of Rolfe who was just four yards out in front of goal. The ball it Rolfe in the chest and was smothered by Bush before Rolfe could get a foot on it to poke it home. That was pretty much the extent of United’s danger on the evening as the Impact saw the remainder of the match out without much difficulty.

The loss for United keeps United in fourth place in the Eastern Conference but the only good news for the Black-and-Red on the weekend was that all three teams above United did not win either. However, United is in danger of dropping to fifth place as Toronto FC are now just two points adrift of United and they have a game in hand.

Up next for United is a critical home match on Friday night against NYCFC. If United can win that match it would clinch a playoff berth as well as eliminate NYCFC from the playoffs. United lost their only match with NYCFC so far 3-1 in New York City in August.

Slumping United fall to 4th in the East after 2-1 loss at home to Columbus

Washington, D.C., September 19, 2015 – The age-old sports cliche is that you want to be playing your best as the playoffs approach. Well, D.C. United is doing anything but playing their best as the Black-and-Red drop their fourth match in five games tonight by a 2-1 score to visiting Columbus Crew SC.

Ethan Finlay and Kai Kamara staked Columbus to a 2-0 lead with goals on either side of halftime before Chris Rolfe cut the deficit to 2-1 with a penalty kick goal in the 68th minute. United should have leveled the match 84th minute but Alvaro Saborio’s equalizer was incorrectly ruled out by the far side assistant referee. Such is the way things go when you’re not playing your best soccer.

By virtue of the win, Columbus jumps into first place in the Eastern Conference while sending United tumbling down to fourth place with a tricky road match in Montreal next Saturday afternoon at 5pm. United had held the lead in the Eastern Conference for nearly fourth months until they were passed by New York Red Bull last weekend. A sequence of wins and draws by almost every team in the East combined with United’s five-game winless streak has seen United plummet in the standings. More than the obvious nosedive in the standings is the worrisome play of United.

Ironically, tonight’s match was “the best the team has looked in two months” according to head coach Ben Olsen after the match but it was a continuation of a trend of poor soccer that has put United in a position to scramble to secure a playoff spot. A win tonight would have clinched a playoff berth for United, but even with that missed opportunity it’s hard to see this current form of United doing any damage in the playoffs considering how ineffective they have been the past month and a half.

Frustration continued to mount throughout the match as the Crew deservedly took the lead through Ethan Finlay in the 27th minute. Once again poor defending led to the opening goal as Sean Franklin switched off for a second and failed to deal with a missed clearance and he allowed Tyson Wahl to bring down the ball and poke a cross into the goal mouth where Finlay beat Taylor Kemp to the ball and turned him before firing his shot over Bill Hamid from four yards out.

United twice failed to score on golden opportunities and Saborio was the culprit on both occasions. His break away after stripping Tony Tchani of the ball 30 yards from goal should have given United the early lead but he fired his shot right into the body of prone Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark. After the visitors had taken the lead Saborio had another chance to equalize when he ran through the heart of the Crew defense only to see his angled shot a bit rushed and pushed to the left of the far side post as Clark was closing down on him.

After the break the Crew doubled their lead through MLS’ leading goal scorer in Kamara in very similar circumstances to Saborio’s first attempt at goal. Tony Tchani burned sent an inch-perfect pass in behind United defender Steve Birnbaum where it met Kamara in stride. Birnbaum was guilty of trying to read the pass from Tchani and overcommited to the outside as Tchani’s pass went inside. Kamara, unlike Saborio, slipped his shot just inside the near post as Hamid was closing ranks on him. The goal for Kamara is his 21st of the season.

United did cut into the lead in the 68th minute after Sean Franklin’s attempted cross into the penalty area was knocked down by the arm of Crew defender Chris Klute. Rolfe stepped up and converted his third PK in three attempts this season despite Clark getting a solid hand to the shot bound for the upper left corner of the goal. For Rolfe, it was his 10th goal of the season and a personal season-high for the veteran midfielder who previously scored 9 goals twice for the Chicago Fire early in his MLS career.

While United looks to their match next weekend against Montreal, minus Perry Kitchen who has to serve a yellow card suspension, they first have to travel to Montego Bay in Jamaica to wrap up group play in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday evening. United have already clinched advancement out of the group and no doubt Ben Olsen will leave most, if not all of his starters back in D.C. to rest for the big game in Canada next Saturday.

Ben Olsen. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Poor second half dooms United in 3-1 loss to NYCFC

Bronx, New York, August 13, 2015 – This type of loss has been coming for D.C. United. They’ve just been too stubborn to let it happen over the past three weeks but tonight it finally caved in as they allowed three second-half goals in a 3-1 loss to expansion side NYCFC tonight at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Thomas McNamara, David Villa and Kwadwo Poku all scored in the second stanza after United took a 1-0 lead in the 36th minuted through Alvaro Saborio.

Both teams came out relatively conservative though United had a golden opportunity in the third minute to take an early lead. Conor Doyle got loose behind NYCFC’s defense but a poor final touch prevented his one-v-one opportunity with Josh Saunders in goal. NYCFC had the next chance at grabbing the lead in the 21st minute when Villa’s hard angled shot was well saved by Bill Hamid.

United took the lead through some good fortune as NYCFC star Andres Pirlo put a back pass right into the path of a streaking Chris Rolfe. United’s leading scorer sprinted towards goal before squaring the ball to Saborio who’s shot kissed the inside of the far post before settling into the goal for his second goal with the Black-and-Red. United very nearly gave the lead up just sixty seconds later when the back line got caught out defensively only for Bobby Boswell’s lunging goal-line clearance of a Villa effort keeping United in the lead.

After that however it was all NYCFC as they put their foot on the accelerator right from the jump of the second half. Hamid came up huge in the 50th minute in what ended up being a bad sign of things to come. Just a minute later the home side was level as United fell asleep defensively, not for the first time. As the game was beginning to open up, Kwadwo Poku easily got behind Taylor Kemp and rounded Hamid and then slotted the ball to McNamara for an easy tap-in and his fifth goal of the season.

At this point United were simply trying to hang on to their 1-1 scoreline but the skill and class of Poku and Villa were too much for United to overcome. With United in a defensive shell and showing precious little in the way of possession or even passes strung together in the second half, it was Andres Pirlo who ultimately made the difference. In the 80th minute, Alvaro Saborio gave away a bad pass at midfield and then the Italian General simply picked apart United’s defense with an inch-perfect pass that had both Boswell and Sean Franklin playing the “you take it-I got it” game. As that indecision was happening, Villa forced his way between the two defenders and slotted a left-footed shot past a clearly exasperated Hamid for the 2-1 lead.

With United in free fall, Poku wrapped up his Man-of-the-Match performance as his physical speed and skill were no match for a back tracking Boswell. Poku simply overpowered United’s best defender and hammered a shot almost through Hamid for the final goal in a disappointing 3-1 loss.

Even with the loss United still maintain their 8-point lead in the Eastern Conference but now second place New York Red Bull have an eye towards the top of the conference as they have a healthy four games in hand on United.

Up next for United is a trip to Panama for their opening game in the Concacaf Champions League against Arabe Unido on Wednesday, August 19th. United is off this weekend from MLS action and will return to league play when they host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, August 22nd at 7pm. The CCL match will be televised on Fox Soccer Plus at 8pm EST while their league tilt with the Quakes will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet at 7pm EST

Return of Hamid key factor in United’s 1-0 win in Montreal

Montreal, Canada – August 8 2015- Bill Hamid’s return to the nets couldn’t have come at a better time as his timely saves powered D.C. United to a 1-0 win in Montreal tonight at Stade Saputo.

Hamid, making his first appearance since June 27th, made two one-v-one saves on either side of halftime to help preserve the win for United, their third in a row. After setting an MLS record with back-to-back wins after a two-goal deficit in the previous two weeks, United came back down to Earth and set another league record in recording a win with only one shot attempted for the entire 90 minutes. One shot..

Chris Rolfe got that game-winning shot in the 13th minute thanks in part to the high pressure he and Jairo Arrieta put on the Impact defense. Arrieta poked the ball away from defender Victor Cabrera and beat Wandrille Lefevre to the loose ball and Arrieta, subbing in for the injured Fabian Espindola, tapped the ball into the path of Rolfe who easily dispatched his shot to the left of Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush for his team-leading 9th goal of the season and the early 1-0 lead.

To say United then sat back and decided to defend could be the understatement of the year. After giving up late goals in stoppage time in losses to Philadelphia, Seattle and FC Dallas on the road earlier this season due to their bunker mentality, this game was very much traveling the same path. At halftime the Impact had a 9-1 shots advantage with Hamid coming up big one-v-one on Andres Romero to keep United out in front.

After the break not much changed, in fact it got a little more worrisome for United as their deep bunker could not afford themselves the opportunity to hold possession and relieve pressure. Hamid stoned Dominic Oduro on a one-v-one challenge midway through the second half and also kept Montreal at bay with stellar positioning and solid command of his penalty area. If not for some wayward shooting inside the penalty area, most specifically from defender Eric Miller (two misses) and Dilly Duka (big miss from 6 yards out in stoppage time), United could have suffered the similar fate that took them down in games earlier this season employing a deep bunker.

As it happens, United (13-7-5, 44 points) extends their Eastern Conference lead to 11 points over Red Bull who host NYCFC tomorrow night at Red Bull Arena. Red Bull has four games in hand and could theoretically catch United should they win all four of those matches. One non-win however drops them below the winnable threshold. Needless to say, despite the very poor offensive showing tonight, it was a huge road win, their fourth of the season.

Speaking of NYCFC, they will be United’s next opponent when they meet next Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Due to both the Redskins and Ravens playing NFL Preseason games at the same time, this match will only be available via www.dcunited.com.

United’s 5-goal second half key their 6-4 win over Real Salt Lake

Washington, D.C., August 1, 2015 – D.C. United scored five second-half goals on their way to an historic 6-4 win this evening over Real Salt Lake at RFK Stadium.

Chris Rolfe (above, photo: Martin Fernandez) led the way with two goals for the Black and Red as United (12-7-5, 41 points) further cemented their lead atop the Eastern Conference with their mind-boggling seventh come-from-behind win on the season. Just like last week United were behind by a goal inside of 90 seconds. Joao Plata scored through a thicket of players to the far post to put the visitors up 1-0.

With visions of last week’s 2-0 deficit against the Philadelphia Union streaming through their heads, United couldn’t believe they were reliving history. With a special emphasis on better starts in training all week, it was inconceivable to repeat their mistake from a week prior. Even worse, they fell behind by 2-0 in the 21st minute when Arundel High School’s very own Kyle Beckerman doubled the advantage with his long-range bomb off the far post.

Normally this would be enough for most teams to see their way to an unexpected loss but this version of D.C. United is a completely unique mystery at times. Chris Rolfe began the rally with some great individual work in stealing the ball of the feet of “All-Star” Tony Beltran and bending a wicked shot to the far post in the 42nd minute to give United some semblance of belief that they can pull off another two-goal rally for the second consecutive week.

After the break all Hell broke loose as both teams combined to score seven goals. Rolfe stepped up to convert a penalty kick after Bobby Boswell was wrestled to the ground in the penalty area by an RSL defender. Referee Boldomero Toledo pointed to the spot and Rolfe roofed his spot kick for his team-leading 8th goal of the season. Just five minutes later United claimed their first lead of the night when defender Taylor Kemp unleashed a rocket from 23 yards away that gave RSL goalkeeper Jeff Antinella no hope of stopping.

Not to be undone however the visitors came right back and leveled the match at 3-3 in the 62nd minute when RSL defender Aaron Maund out dueled Steve Birnbaum inside the goal box and headed in a Javier Morales free kick to the right of United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra.

The goals were now coming thick and fast and United once again took the lead inside of 60 seconds when Fabian Espindola finally capped off a wild sequence in front of goal. The play started when Alvaro Saborio received the ball deep in the penalty area and then the former RSL man completely juked Maund to the ground and curled a goal-bound shot to the far post. However Antinella got a fingertip to the ball to keep it out when mad scramble in front of the open goal at the far post resulted in an Espindola last gasp touch to push the ball over the goal line.

Incredibly though RSL came back to tie the score in the 68th minute when Morales found Abdoulie Mansally on the far post and the former striker-now defender embraced his forward roots and roofed a shot from a tight angle over the head of Dykstra to tie the match at 4-4.

With the crowd of 17, 288 in stunned disbelief in what they were witnessing, United turned it up a few notches and put the game away for good in the 79th minute. United had won a corner kick opportunity after a brilliant one-two display from Saborio and Espindola as they split open the RSL defense with a series of moves that had the stadium buzzing. With RSL a bit unsettled, they failed to pay attention to Kemp who received the quick pass from Espindola’s corner and then sent in one of his now textbook crosses that met the head of Perry Kitchen to easily beat Antinella for his third goal of the season and the eventual game-winning goal.

With RSL now pushing forward in hopes of an equalizer, and who could blame them considering how the crazy match was unfolding, it was United’s best player on the night Nick DeLeon saving the best for last. DeLeon, flush with confidence after his goal last week snapped a year-long drought, unleashed a left-footed curling blast into the far side netting from 22 yards in the 85th minute that sent the stadium into delirium. Not only was this the best goal of DeLeon’s career, it was arguably his most influential performance since his game-winning goal to eliminate Red Bull from the 2012 playoffs.

United easily saw out the remaining minutes of what can only be classified as one of the most entertaining games in the 60-year history of RFK Stadium. This game will go on the short list right beside the 1997 MLS Cup win over the Colorado Rapids and the 2004 Eastern Conference Final win over the New England Revolution on penalty kicks that vaulted United to the last of their four MLS Cup titles.

Can this game signify something similar? How could anyone know the answer to that but this club this season are defying all the odds and it could very well be a possibility come this December.

DC United defeated the visiting New England Revolution 2-1 behind two second half goals from Chris Role. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United ends two-game slide with 2-1 win over the Revolution

Washington, D.C, June 21, 2015 – Chris Rolfe (18) scored a pair of goals in the second half to lead D.C. United to an important 2-1 win over the New England Revolution at steamy RFK Stadium and extend their lead in the Eastern Conference to seven points. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

The win also pushed United (9-5-4, 31 points) to the top of the Supporters Shield race above the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps who both sit two points behind the Black-and-Red.

Both teams had midweek U.S. Open Cup matches to deal with but both sides held out the majority of their starting players for this match up on East Capitol Street. With the Revolution (6-5-6, 24 points) only four points behind United with a game in hand at the start of the match, it was of major importance for the visitors to set the tone and let United know they have a challenge for the top spot in the East.

The Revolution took advantage of a sleepy beginning for United and gained the early lead in the 10th minute. United midfielder Perry Kitchen was inattentive in his marking and allowed Revs midfielder Lee Ngyuen to slip behind him and the U.S. International fed a beautiful pass behind United’s defense where former United forward Charlie Davies smoothly side-footed a left-footed shot into the far corner past Bill Hamid for the 1-0 lead.

United very much were feeling the muggy conditions through the first half and struggled to maintain possession against the Revolution and were fortunate not to go down 2-0 in the 23rd minute when Hamid came up huge and smothered a goal-bound effort from Chris Tierney after he was sent in alone by another defense-splitting pass from Nguyen.

That save from Hamid seemed to wake United up and they upped the tempo through the remainder of the first half but as has been the case for long stretches of time in recent weeks, United just couldn’t find that final pass or final ball to set up a scoring chance. Chris Rolfe’s individual effort late in the first half was the sum total of United’s chances through the first 45 minutes.

After the break not much changed and the Revs quickly had another dangerous opportunity to double the lead when Nguyen’s screaming drive from 22 yards narrowly flashed over the crossbar. After that let off, United started to slowly turn the tempo of the match to their favor and started gaining more possession and with that came more opportunities to level the match. In the 56th minute United nearly tied the match when Fabian Espindola somehow worked his way to the end line under heavy pressure and floated a cross to the back post where Rolfe’s one-timer eluded the Revolution’s charging goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth but couldn’t get past defender Chris Tierney who cleared the shot out of danger.

The Revolution were made to pay for their conservative approach in settling for the 1-0 lead and United equalized in the 70th minute. The same combination of Espindola to Rolfe this time was successful when Espindola’s right-footed cross floated over the entire Revolution defense and right onto the foot of Rolfe who easily tucked in the volley to level the match at 1-1.

United, despite not playing very well in the heat and humidity for most of the match, had a golden opportunity to go for the win when substitute Miguel Aguilar came up with the games biggest play. Aguilar was a breath of fresh air as he instantly pumped life into United’s attack and when he made a run towards the upper corner of the penalty area in the 80th minute, he was clumsily clattered into by former Georgetown midfielder Steve Neumann right on the edge of the penalty area. Referee Ismail Elfath didn’t hesitate to point to the penalty spot and Chris Rolfe calmly pushed the ball to Shuttleworth’s left and into the goal for second goal of the game and team-leading sixth goal of the season.

The victory for United was the fifth this season after allowing the opening goal of the game. United had won one total match the past two seasons combined when going behind by a goal. Up next for United is a midweek match up in Chicago to take on the Fire on Wednesday night at 8:30 pm EST. The match will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet.

United Notes

  • Chris Pontius was slated to start the match at left midfield but was pulled during pregame warm ups with a slight calf issue. The move was precautionary according to Ben Olsen after the match
  • Davy Arnaud picked up a yellow card and will be suspended for the game in Chicago on Wednesday. Arnaud will be eligible to return next Saturday night in Toronto

 

DC United's Chris Rolfe (18) keeps the ball away from Philadelphia's Vincent Nogueira during the second half of their team's match at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. United defeated the Union 2-1 with a Penalty Kick goal from Chris Rolfe. Photo Martin Fernandez.

Rolfe’s late PK is game-winner in 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union

Washington, D.C, May 30, 2015 – Chris Rolfe’s 85th minute penalty kick conversion pushed D.C. United to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Philadelphia Union in front of 16,284 sweaty fans tonight at RFK Stadium.

After giving up a 5th minute goal for the second game running, it was looking like D.C. United was heading for a fourth consecutive match without a victory. However, Chris Pontius’ stoppage-time goal in the first half leveled the match and Rolfe’s spot kick conversion turned the match around for the Black-and-Red.

Sebastian Le Toux’s goal just five minutes into the match gave the visitors the shock lead. United defender Steve Birnbaum was a bit casual in clearing a ball deep in the penalty area and he coughed the ball up to Andrew Wenger. Wenger quickly slipped the ball to his right where a wide-open Le Toux hammered his shot past an onrushing Bill Hamid for the 1-0 lead.

The Union should have doubled their lead midway through the first half but Wenger’s left-footed drive from 15 yards beat Hamid but crashed off the crossbar before being cleared out by United’s scrambling defense.

The Union were made to pay for that miss in stoppage time when Taylor Kemp’s pinpoint cross met Chris Pontius who’s powerful header snapped past Union goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre to level the match. For Kemp it was his team-leading 4th assist of the season but he would limp off with a suspected groin injury late in the match. Pontius’ goal was his second of the season.

After the break, both teams traded patches of possession with neither team really coming close to scoring until the final fifteen minutes of the match.

Just a minute before Rolfe was sent to the penalty spot, Nick DeLeon hit a thunderbolt that was ticketed for the near side upper netting that was well saved by Silvestre to keep the teams at 1-1. This was DeLeon’s first appearance since injuring his hamstring against Columbus at the begging of May.

Chris Korb, on for the injured Kemp, sent a diagonal ball to the far side of the penalty area when Philadelphia substitute Zach Pfeffer seemed to inadvertently handle the cross. The linesman immediately signaled the infraction and Rolfe stepped up and sent his penalty kick to the right of Sylvestre and send United to their first win since a 2-1 win over Orlando City SC on May 13th.

From there United easily kept the visitors at bay save for a close call when C.J. Sapong’s header in the 90th minute looped just over the crossbar.

With United in the midst of a 5 game in 14 day stretch of games, head coach Ben Olsen once again moved his lineup around.

Rolfe, Pontius, Davy Arnaud and Sean Franklin were all left in D.C. this past week as the team took a lighter roster out for their eventual 1-0 loss in Portland on Wednesday night.

With another match on Wednesday at home against the Chicago Fire and another match next Saturday night against Toronto FC, Olsen did confirm that more roster rotation will happen to help alleviate the crush of matches.

Wednesday night’s match will be televised live on CSN at 7pm.