United Cruise to 2-0 Win Over Rapids

Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi scored on either side of halftime to help D.C. United to a comfortable 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium in Washngton D.C. With the win United jumped into a tie for second place with Sporting Kansas City.

Cautious United Shuffles Ahead of Rapids

DC United coach Ben Olsen will have to shuffle his players once again ahead of Wednesday’s night match against the visiting Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium. He’ll also have to rely on the reigning league MVP, Dwayne DeRosario, to regain some of the form that earned him the coveted award if the Black-and-Red is to get the three points. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Mounting injuries, including one to midfielder Perry Kitchen, will force United’s young coach to alter his line-up in the back once again. Luckily for DC, it is unlikely that Colorado will be able to field its two most dangerous attackers, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, on Wednesday night.

Perry Kitchen will unlikely not see any time on Wednesday after suffering a knee injury in DC’s 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo. The team has been quiet about the midfielder’s prognosis, but I suspect he’ll be back sooner than later. Any serious injury would have already made headlines in the nation’s capital.

It is unclear whether or not Emiliano Dudar (hamstring), Dejan Jakovic (ankle), rookie Nick DeLeon (hamstring) or Marcelo Saragosa will see any time tomorrow night, but  given United’s upcoming schedule of two matches in four days, Olsen is bound to be cautious and not push any of them into a hasty return. I have a strong feeling Dudar will remain off the field for the foreseeable future again, caution being the driving factor on his return.

Still, Olsen does have  a solid set of players who have demonstrated they can be relied upon. Bill Hamid has been solid on goal since his return and left back Daniel Woolard, Chris Korb, Robbie Russel and Brandon McDonald all did satisfactory jobs in the back against the Dynamo. If it was not for a superb strike from veteran Houston midfielder Brad Davis the match may have ended 0-0. United’s back line and Bill Hamid will have to be alert though. Colorado is an explosive team that takes advantage of any opportunity, including set pieces.

With Kitchen possibly out of the line-up for at least this match, Olsen will have to rely on Stephen King or Branko Boskovic in the middle. My guess is that Olsen will call upon the Black-and-Red’s designated player for the effort, especially with back-to-back home games in four days. This is perhaps the best opportunity that Boskovic will have to assert himself back into the line-up and prove his worth.

Undoubtedly, we will see DeRo wreak havoc against Colorado. United’s MVP will be called upon to regain the form that allowed him to become one of the most decorated and successful players in MLS history. With winger Andy Najar returning to form, and Danny Cruz’s solid and consistent play on the opposite side, the trio should be able to manage the middle and flanks effectively.

The front line will likely undergo a shuffle much like the back line. Although Maicon Santos and Chris Pontius have been extremely effective, both players have minor knocks that may force Olsen to be cautious once again. I suspect we’ll see United’s other DP, Hamdi Salihi, in the starting line-up along side Chris Pontius, or DC’s Player/Coach Josh Wolff if Pontius is ruled out as well.

United is not “desperate” for a result, but the Black-and-Red would be well served if they gain the three points, especially since Wednesday’s match is the first of a three-game home-stand. United will then Play Toronto FC, the only winless team in the league obviously desperate for a result on Saturday, and long-time bitter rival, New England a week later.

Deja Vu`all over again as United lets in late equalizer in 2-2 draw with Philadelphia

For the second consecutive weekend, D.C. United allows a late equalizing goal to deny themselves another opportunity to climb the table in the weak Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer. This week’s generous recipient were the Philadelphia Union who leveled the match at 2-2 in the 84th minute thanks in part to some lazy defending and the opportunistic killer instinct of Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz easily beat United rookie defender Ethan White to a centered ball from defender Sheanon Williams who also easily shed his defensive marker Chris Pontius down the right sideline.

Josh Wolff and Andy Najar scored the goals for United while Philadelphia’s first goal was an own-goal courtesy of more shoddy defending from rookie right-back Perry Kitchen. United got on the board first in this back-and-forth affair in the 44th minute thanks to newcomer Dwayne DeRosario and Najar. Najar received a ball from Ethan White along the left side line and the Honduran spotted DeRosario making a run into the left side of the penalty area. The crafty veteran froze defender Sheanon Williams and sent a low ball through traffic where Josh Wolff easily redirected the ball into the empty net for the 1-0 lead.

After the break, it was the visitors who struck first through some careless defending from United in the 49th minute. After a minute of sustained Union pressure deep in United territory, Chris Pontius chested a ball down right into the path of Union midfielder Veljko Paunovic. The Macedonian moved to the edge of the area and sent a ball to the far post that Kitchen seemed to have an easy bead on. However, token pressure from Sebastian Le Toux forced Kitchen into an awkward jumping clearance that hit off the inside of his knee and past a stunned Bill Hamid to level the match at 1-1.

It didn’t take long though for the 13,365 fans in attendance to erupt when in the 58th minute Andy Najar pulled off a bit of magic. Najar was fortunate that his cut-back move at midfield deflected through the legs Union midfielder Keon Daniel and bounded into open space. Najar took off towards the Union goal with no defender in sight and unleashed a wicked 35-yard blast that beat Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon to his right and ripped into the side-netting to give the Black-and-Red the lead once again at 2-1.

After that point however it seemed United pulled back and stopped being aggressive and fell into a defensive shell. Carlos Ruiz nearly equalized just two minutes after Najar’s wonder goal when he beat Ethan White to the penalty spot to meet a cross from Justin Mapp and his header was stopped point blank by Hamid. Philadelphia continued their pressure for the remainder of the match and just like last week’s disappointing 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo, lightning struck twice as the Union leveled the match in the 84th minute.

Sebastian Le Toux started the sequence by threading a ball in between Daniel Woolard and Chris Pontius to Williams and his one-time cross was clipped in by Ruiz as White was slow to get ball side to defend the play. Bill Hamid was left with no chance to save the play and United were left licking their wounds for a second consecutive weekend.

United now must embark on a two-game road trip to New York and Dallas before heading home to play the New England Revolution on July 20th.


United Notes

– Fred made his final appearance at RFK for United this evening. Fred is going to be transferred to the Melbourne Heart of the A-League in Australia when the International Transfer Window opens on July 15th. Fred will be with United for their two-game road trip starting next Saturday night at Red Bull Arena

– Jed Zayner will have surgery on his knee and most likely be out for the remainder of the season. United are frightfully thin on the back line these days and are bringing in players on trial to help stem the tide


United wheeling and dealing continues as they trade for DeRosario

Just a few hours after announcing the acquisition of Brandon McDonald from San Jose, D.C. United showed they were not done with remaking the squad by acquiring 4-time MLS Cup Champion midfielder Dwayne DeRosario from the New York Red Bulls for midfielder and former captain Dax McCarty.

“Today we signed one of the best players MLS has ever seen in Dwayne De Rosario,” said Head Coach Ben Olsen. “In order to gain a quality piece we gave up a quality player in Dax McCarty, but we feel that De Rosario is a game-changer that will help us in our push for playoffs.”

United has struggled all season long to create offense from it’s central midfield and the acquisition of DeRosario should go a long way towards helping improve that area of attack. McCarty, who started the season as captain of United, only lasted a dozen games before being shipped off to New York. United had started a combination of McCarty, Clyde Simms, Stephen King, Kurt Morsink and Fred in central midfield this season with precious few results as none of the above have actually scored this season. DeRosario hopes to change that in a big way.

Although the team got much older with DeRo in tow, it gains in experience and big game ability. DeRosario has scored some of the most important goals in MLS history as he has nabbed two game-winning goals in his 4 MLS Cup final appearances. He’s also a healthy 4-0 in those matches winning titles with San Jose and Houston.

Dax McCarty was acquired in the preseason in a trade with Portland that shipped Rodney Wallace to the NorthWest.

United wins Carolina Challenge Cup with 2-2 draw with Toronto FC

Charlie Davies is congratulated by teammates Chris Pontius (13), Joseph Ngwenya (11), and Dax Macarthy(10) after scoring against TFC in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Photo Tony Quinn

United were out on the front foot early and should have led 1-0 in the third minute. Chris Pontius picked up a loose ball and sent Charlie Davies in on goal. Davies rounded goalkeeper Stephan Frei easily but retreating defender Nana Atta-Kora forced Davies into a rushed attempt at the open goal and it dribbled wide left of the goal. Davies didn’t have to wait long for redemption as he put United up 1-0 in the 12th minute. Pontius again got hold of a loose ball and sent Davies into the box on the right side. His 15-yard blast shot over the hand of Frei and just under the bar.

United continued their dominance but was falling prey to a number of counter attacks that was catching the United back line playing a bit too high. In the 19th minute they paid for their aggression as Dwayne DeRosario easily got behind defender Daniel Woolard and centered a ball that was initially bumbled by Toronto midfielder Gianluca Zavarise. As he was about to compose himself for a straight look on goal, United midfielder Dax McCarty clattered into the trialist and the referee correctly awarded TFC a penalty kick. Dwayne DeRosario easily beat Pat Onstad to level the match at 1-1.

Toronto was not done by any stretch and in the 28th minute a rookie mistake by defender Perry Kitchen gifted TFC the lead. Goalkeeper Stephan Frei sent a booming kick over the United back line, again playing too high, that Kitchen was in good position to clear. However, he hesitated in his clearance and allowed the veteran Brazilian striker Maicon Santos to muscle the rookie off the ball and clumsily slot the ball into the side netting.

United, trailing for the first time in the entire preseason, became a bit unraveled and their usual clean passing and switching of the ball became poor touches and rushed balls over the top. However, late in the first half  Toronto gave United a lifeline when trialist defender Mikael Yourassowsky picked up back-t0-back yellow cards and was sent off. Andy Najar easily beat the defender and was grabbed around the waist for the first yellow and two minutes later Chris Pontius pulled off the same move resulting in the same punishment and United was up a man for the remainder of the match.

Unlike Wednesday nights match against the Chicago Fire when United was one-man up in the first match also, United took advantage of the situation and created a number of opportunities to tie the match. Kurt Morsink’s 30-yard bomb was tipped over the bar by Frei in the 52nd minute and Joseph Ngwenya’s 8-yard header scorched just over the bar just a minute later. In the 62nd minute, United would finally cash in on their pressure with a well-worked goal against Toronto’s bunker defense. Branko Boskovic sent a diagonal ball from the left flank over the defense hitting Santino Quaranta in stride. The Baltimore native easily chested the ball down and got behind the defense. With Frei coming out to challenge Quaranta, a simple square pass to a wide-open Ngwenya was deposited in the net to draw the match level at 2-2. With the draw in hand, United played out the rest of the match with little threat from Toronto and claimed their second consecutive Carolina Challenge Cup.

Carolina Challenge Cup Wionners. Photo: Tony Quinn.

D.C. United players celebarte their second consecutive Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Tony Quinn.

United Notes

  • United’s starting X1 for this match seems to be an indicator of what coach Ben Olsen’s lineup might look like next weekend against Columbus – Onstad, Woolard, Kitchen, Jakovic, Zayner, McCarty (C), Boskovic, Pontius, Najar, Ngwenya and Charlie Davies
  • United made 8 changes at the start of the second half bringing on Quaranta, Brettschneider, Morsink, King, Korb, White, Bresesco and Burch. Barklage and Shanosky made late appearances with only Onstad playing the whole 90 minutes