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Fabian Espindola was;t happy during DC United's 3-0 loss to depleted FC Dallas.

United struggles continue after 3-0 loss to FC Dallas

Washington, D.C. – Frustration continues to mount for D.C. United as Michael Barrios scored twice in the first half to lead the visiting FC Dallas to a comfortable 3-0 win at RFK Stadium last night.

United continued their struggle on both ends of the pitch by giving up two goals through defensive mistakes and also failing to hit the net for the second time in four league matches so far during this early part of the season. United (0-2-2, 2 points) have now dropped to ninth place in the Eastern Conference after their ineffective start to 2016. If you include United’s two CONCACAF matches, the team is winless through six matches and have managed to only score three times in that span.

United were missing their stalwart central defender Steve Birnbaum (away with the US National Team) and it showed today as Kofi Opare took his place in the lineup. While Opare was far from blame on most defensive issues on the day, he was a chief conspirator in the games opening goal just 14 minutes into the game. A seemingly routine clearance from either Opari or Taylor Kemp would have done the trick as they both were retreating towards United’s goal tracking down a wayward header from midfield. However, at the critical time to make a decision, both players hesitated in clearing the ball and it bungled into the path of FC Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios. The diminutive Barrios gladly picked up the loose ball and expertly curled a left-footed shot around Travis Worra who had no chance to save the shot.

United up until that point had established the tempo to their liking and had threatened the FC Dallas goal numerous times but as would be the case for the entire day the final moment of magic never came for the Black-and-Red and were left angry and frustrated after giving up the opening goal so comically.

FC Dallas doubled their lead in the 28th minute when Barrios exploited a huge patch of field right through the heart of United’s defense and toe-poked a shot over the onrushing Worra to continue United’s misery.

After the break things didn’t get any easier as Maxi Urruti put the visitors up 3-0 in the 52nd minute. FC Dallas were missing seven of their players due to international duty, but none of them were their regular starters in the offensive half of the field. That trademark speed that FC Dallas is known for carved United up as just two passes unlocked United and sent Fabian Castillo out alone on the left flank. His first time cross hit Max Urruti perfectly in stride in the penalty area and despite pressure from Taylor Kemp he settled the cross and pushed it past Worra for the games final goal.

The drama would not stop there and United’s frustration would continue to grow. United were given a penalty in the 66th minute which appeared to be a classic make up call from referee Jose Carlos Rivero who had waived off a penalty claim from Patrick Nyarko just two minutes prior. The foul on Nyarko was as plain as the nose on your face but Rivero made a motion that the FC Dallas defender got the ball, which he clearly didn’t.

Two minutes later Sean Franklin was hardly touched in the area and actually kept on running towards the loose ball when the whistle inexplicably went against FC Dallas. Up stepped Fabian Espindola to take the penalty shot and his shot was weak and right into the diving arms of former Maryland Terrapin goalkeeper Chris Seitz. United now has missed it’s last four penalty kicks going back to Chris Rolfe’s miss against the New England Revolution during last seasons MLS playoff win at RFK.  As Seitz outletted the save, Marcelo Sarvas caught up with Barrios and then all of sudden Barrios went down like he was shot. Rivero followed closely behind with a straight red card that sent Sarvas into a rage. Replays showed no contact through the player except for a wayward hand that barely brushed Barrios’ face.

With United a man down, the outcome was all but certain and now United will have to gather themselves and get ready for a cross-country flight and their first ever match at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California next Saturday night at 10:30 pm EST.

United fall in stoppage-time 2-1 in Dallas

Frisco, Texas, July 18, 2015 – Fabian Castillo’s goal in the 93rd minute was the game-winner as FC Dallas defeated D.C. United 2-1 tonight at Toyota Stadium in steamy Frisco, Texas.

Playing in hazy and humid conditions, United struggled all night long in dealing with FC Dallas’ seemingly endless attacking and were fortunate not to suffer a heavier scoreline loss if not for some wayward shooting and good goalkeeping from Andrew Dykstra. The home side were on the front foot from the very beginning and dominated nearly every aspect of the game. This was rather disappointing for United as they were just coming off a well-needed 15 day break, but in many ways this may have been the worse team to come back to league play against as the home side were riding a three-game winning streak while United had gone scoreless in their previous two league matches before their break.

Once again head coach Ben Olsen was forced to shuffle his lineup with the suspension of Fabian Espindola and the surgery to Bill Hamid’s knee and wrist. Starting his 21st different lineup in 22 games, United had a tall task ahead of them and those who were expecting a struggle from the Black-and-Red tonight certainly got it. FC Dallas with rapid fire attack led by Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz had United on their heels all night long.

However, it was seldom marked defensive midfielder Kellyn Acosta who proved the biggest thorn in United’s side. Three times the midfielder unleashed shots from outside the area that nearly gave FC Dallas the lead. As the game wore on and the missed chances continued to mount for the home side, the more likely it would seem United could walk out of Dallas with a point. All that seemed to end in the 73rd minute when Acosta got on the end of a scrambling play in the penalty area and converted from two yards out right in front of Dykstra.

It was certainly deserved from FC Dallas as they had unleashed an attacking onslaught rarely seen against United this season. However, in almost typical never-say-die fashion for United this season, they equalized just four minutes later with an own-goal. Left back Taylor Kemp sent a wicked bending cross into the heart of the goalmouth in the direction of Jairo Arrieta. The Costa Rican forward lunged for the ball and missed it but it did ricochet off the knee of FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges and flew past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to level the match at 1-1.

United thought they had escaped with a brutally hard-fought point. They were mistaken as Fabian Castillo broke their spirit with a goal in the 93rd minute. Facundo Coria, a very late substitute, unwisely tried to attach through the FC Dallas defense late in the stoppage time when a more prudent approach would have been to maintain possession. The resulting turnover sparked a counter attack for FC Dallas and put United on their heels. The ball got to the right side of the penalty area when it was centered to the awaiting Victor Ulloa. The homegrown product appeared to scuff his shot and in the process United defender Taylor Kemp, in an attempt to block the shot, redirected the ball right into the path of Castillo who blasted the shot past the helpless Dykstra for the game-winner.

On the balance of things, it was a deserved three points for Dallas, just as the previous league match (and game-winning goal in the 89th minute) in Seattle went down. The back-to-back losses for United ended their longest road trip of the season and garnered them 4 out of a possible 12 points. United still remain firmly in first place in the Eastern Conference but they’ve also played more matches than most of the teams chasing them from behind. As of now, only Toronto FC and New York Red Bull have an opportunity to catch United on points based on games played.

United now will turn their attention to next Sunday’s home game at RFK Stadium against the Philadelphia Union. The Union were 2-1 losers in Toronto earlier in the day.

 

Mistakes, missed opportunities abound as United drop final preseason match in Dallas by 3-1 score

Not exactly the way Ben Olsen wanted this one to go.

With the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League beckoning just a week away, Olsen was looking for a solid effort to take down to Costa Rica. Well, that didn’t exactly pan out as D.C. United dropped a 3-1 decision to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas tonight. United made numerous defensive blunders to help the home side to the rather flattering lopsided scoreline. United actually played up a man for 65 minutes after FC Dallas midfielder Michel was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Sean Franklin in the 24th minute. Franklin would be subbed out at halftime of the match, no doubt for precautionary reasons. Olsen begged the referee and the FC Dallas staff to allow another player onto the field so it wouldn’t be 11-v-10. It hardly mattered at the end of the day.

Even so, with the man advantage it was FC Dallas that took the lead in the 27th minute thanks to some slack marking from United. Franklin applied very little pressure to left-back Moses Hernandez who was allowed to float a ball to the far post inside the area. Taylor Kemp was equally lax in the marking of Blas Perez who easily leaped to meet the cross and send it back towards the goal where Ryan Hollingshead tapped in his 3rd goal of the preseason.

United continued to seem flustered by the man-up situation but settled in towards the end of the half but did not generate any meaningful chances to close out the first stanza. After the break United continued their pressure and finally broke through in the 62nd minute. Jairo Arrieta, subbing in for the ineffective Chris Pontius just before the hour mark, hit the far post with a header just seconds into his appearance but would find the net just a few minutes later when he volleyed in a cross from Fabian Espindola from the right flank.

United seemed poised to take control of the match and should have doubled or even tripled their lead but not for two missed chances by Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen. DeLeon stumbled as he came into the area in the 70th minute allowing the defense and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to snuff out his chance. Perhaps an even more glaring miss was Kitchen’s attempt in the 75th minute. After United’s most attractive buildup of one-touch passes and clever movement of the preseason, Taylor Kemp found himself alone deep in the penalty area. His cross to the far post was headed back across the face of goal, not unlike the sequence that led to FC Dallas’ first goal of the game, where Kitchen simply whiffed on an easy tap-in.

United would rue that missed opportunity as FC Dallas caught United pushing players too far upfield in the 79th minute. A seemingly harmless through ball was shielded by defender Bobby Boswell who seemed to expect goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to clear out of danger. Dykstra hesitated and that was all it took for the league’s quickest player in Fabian Castillo to ghost in and easily round the goalkeeper for the game-winning tally.

United’s misery was compounded further when FC Dallas substitute Tesho Akindele was brought down in the area by Steve Birnbaum in the 88th minute. United again were caught with too many people moving forward and the quick FC Dallas counter caught them out of position. Akindele, last season’s Rookie of the Year winner over Birnbaum ironically, easily beat Dykstra to his right for the final goal of the game.

Olsen can not be happy with the number of critical mistakes and more so the lengthy man-advantage they had for the majority of the game. For a team that prides itself on their defending, to give up three goals with a man advantage can not bode well heading into their match on Thursday night against Alajuelense in Costa Rica.

Let’s hope this performance was just a mirage and United can learn from this harsh lesson.

United captures The Dillo with 1-0 win over FC Dallas

D.C. United captured the vaunted Dillo trophy with their 1-0 win this afternoon over FC Dallas in the final of the ATX Pro Challenge in Austin, Texas.

Chris Rolfe’s sensational goal in the 54th minute was the game-winner for the Black-and-Red as they have taken back-to-back preseason tournaments coupled with last years Charleston Challenge Cup in Charleston, South Carolina.

Ben Olsen put out a lineup that most likely will take the field in their first-leg match against Alejuelense in 11 days time in Costa Rica. Bill Hamid enjoyed another fine match with making a pair of nice saves on either side of halftime to help United’s cause. With Steve Birnbaum most likely not available to start in Costa Rica, Olsen pulled Markus Halsti into central defense with Bobby Boswell and the Finnish star played flawlessly against FC Dallas’ brutal combination of physical play and equally devastating team speed. Halsti’s positioning and composure on the ball were second-to-none in the match and so far has been as good as advertised since coming over on his transfer from FC Malmo in Sweden in January.

Coming out of the gate United may have regretted some missed opportunities as Nick DeLeon missed a seemingly easy chip over onrushing FC Dallas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy just two minutes into the match.  A few minutes later DeLeon muscled off a challenge from the FC Dallas defense and appeared to have Chris Pontius alone at the penalty spot but for some reason he hesitated and the move was lost.

Fabian Espindola was next up on the regret list in the 26th minute when he picked up a loose ball just inside FC Dallas’ half of the field. With FC Dallas scrambling to get back defensively due to their error, Espindola took off towards goal with Pontius on his left and DeLeon on his right. Both players were achingly wide open but Espindola unwisely decided to shoot with this off-right foot at the top of the penalty area and the promising move fizzled out.

After the break it was more of United controlling the tempo of the match. FC Dallas’ physical nature caught up to them in the 54th minute when a free kick was awarded to United along the right flank. After an initial soft clearance from FC Dallas, the ball found it’s way to the foot of Rolfe about 30 yards out from goal. Two severe cut back moves later, Rolfe was bending a wicked 23-yard upper 90 shot into the far side netting with Kennedy having no chance to save it.

United then decided to remove their starters, albeit Hamid, from the match around the 70th minute and FC Dallas finally started gaining some traction in the match. However, there were few and far between. Hamid made a sensational save with about six minutes to go in the match to keep United in front and then FC Dallas’ last chance was a questionable free kick given just outside the penalty area in stoppage time. The resulting free kick was blasted straight into the United wall and the match was easily seen out from there.

After the match, United will now fly to Dallas to train through the remainder of next week culminating in an already scheduled rematch with FC Dallas in Frisco, TX on Friday, February 20th. This will be United’s last match of preparation before heading down to Costa Rica to take on Alejuelense on Thursday, February 26th in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal knockout round. The return leg of this match will be back at RFK Stadium on Wednesday, March 4th, just three days ahead of the open of the MLS season on March 7th.

Episode 141 – Struggling Without the Talent

Join the guys, sans Mike Martin, as they look back at United’s past few matches. Including the win over FC Dallas, the heartbreaking loss at Portland, and the road win vs the Philadelphia Union. The boys also talk about Eddie Johnson’s controversial comments and introduce Stone Giant, a Boston Band with a close connection to the show.

United crush league-leaders FC Dallas 4-1

Fabian Espindola scored twice and set up another goal in D.C. United’s 4-1 dismantling of league-leading FC Dallas tonight at RFK Stadium. Photo: Tony Quinn.

Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin also scored for United as they put their collective foot on the pedal and rolled past the visitors from Texas. The win helps United jump into a temporary tie at the top of the Eastern Conference with Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City. Toronto FC has the weekend off while Sporting is on the road in New England. United is also on a five-game unbeaten run since losing their first two matches of the season.

FC Dallas opened the scoring against the run of play in the 13th minute with a beautiful combination play that left the Black-and-Red helpless. Striker Fabian Castillo cut in from the left flank and found Blas Perez just inside the area. The big Panamanian one-timed his pass to the onrushing Mauro Diaz and his fake at the top of the area cleared his path towards goal and left Bill Hamid with no chance and FC Dallas was ahead 1-0.

However, the tone of the match completely changed when FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card after his studs up challenge on Davy Arnaud in the 39th minute. Unlike last week when United went up a man in the 81st minute with the lead against Columbus, United made the opposition pay with a beautiful equalizer in first-half stoppage time. Nick DeLeon (team-leading 3 assists so far this season) slipped a pass to Eddie Johnson on the right wing and his inch-perfect whipped cross met Espindola at the back post and his header leveled the match at 1-1 just as the half came to a close.

After the restart, it was all United as they held a 68-32% possession advantage. Already down a man, FC Dallas was forced to bunker in and try to keep United at bay. Defending is not exactly the forte of FC Dallas and United made them pay in a big way. Eddie Johnson came off with a slight hamstring twinge but it did not slow down the Black-and-Red. United took the lead in the 60th minute after some good work along the end line by Espindola. His cross was met by a wicked side volley from substitute Conor Doyle but former University of Maryland goalkeeper Chris Seitz did well to save the blast but it landed right into the path of Boswell and his left-footed shot ripped the net to give United the 2-1 lead.

Not done just yet with their barrage United increased the lead to 3-1 in the 64th minute on one of the prettiest plays by United at RFK in a long long time. Espindola managed to somehow juke his way through two FC Dallas defenders and made his way towards goal along the end line. His chipped cross into the goal mouth was met with a perfectly timed left-footed side foot finish by Franklin and the game for all intents and purposes was over.

United were not done however and added a fourth goal in the 69th minute. Chris Rolfe’s hard work along the left flank opened up a sliver of space in the penalty area for Espindola. The Argentine received the pass with his favored left foot and popped it forward in the air. Without hesitation Espindola laced the ball before it hit the ground and past the diving Seitz for the last goal of the game.

United, incidentally enough, beat FC Dallas 4-1 two years ago at RFK to help jump start their season. United will now have to take their new found confidence on the road to Portland next weekend when they face the desperate yet struggling Timbers. That match will be at 10:30 EST on Comcast SportsNet

United vs FC Dallas: Losing streak reaches record seven games as United fall 2-1 in Dallas

While the effort was better for D.C. United the result was the same. Another loss, this time to 2-1 to FC Dallas at FC Dallas Stadium tonight in Frisco, Texas.

The loss for United, their seventh straight, has now established a new team record in a season that is now quickly evaporating. Je-Vaughn Watsons chested ball in the 77th minute was the game-winner for FC Dallas as United once again gives up a goal on a set piece. United (1-8-1) has given up a set piece goal in seven of their ten matches played so far. In a season that has seen everything go wrong, the set piece defending is probably the #1 culprit to United’s current malaise.

After United’s abysmal effort on Wednesday night in their 4-0 home loss to Houston, Ben Olsen made five changes to the lineup including Joe Willis in goal for Bill Hamid and a first ever start up top for Casey Townsend. While the energy and effort was there, the familiar scene of falling behind happened yet again. In just the 11th minute, just two minutes after Townsend rang the post for United, FC Dallas took the lead after carving apart United’s defense. Defender Ethan White, making his first start since the 2011 season, was caught in no mans land and let Jackson slip by him and his left-footed rocket easily beat Willis from eight yards out.

United didn’t wilt and leveled the match in the 44th minute from a Dwayne De Rosario free kick. The goal was the first scored for United on the road this season and gave the Black-and-Red some much needed confidence heading into the break.

After the intermission however, it was the home side that was creating all the chances and the damn finally broke in the 77th minute. Under pressure for at least ten minutes by this point, you could feel the goal coming and fittingly it came on a set piece. Joe Willis was blocked from coming out to punch out Michel’s in swinging corner and it bounced off the chest of Watson at the far post and bundled into the empty net.

United tried to push the pace for the equalizer but never really threatened the FC Dallas goal and United was resigned to their club-record fate of a seventh consecutive loss.

United will now attempt to avoid an eight straight loss and fifth straight home loss when they entertain Sporting Kansas City on Sunday evening May 19th at RFK Stadium.

United hammers FC Dallas 4-1 to gain first win of the season

Maicon Santos had two goals and an assist in D.C. United’s first win of the season, a 4-1 win over visiting FC Dallas last night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.  Rookie Nick De Leon pitched in a goal and an assist with Danny Cruz rounding out the goalscoring in United’s impressive offensive display.

United’s offense had been a question mark heading into this the fourth match of the season with only one goal from their previous three matches to start the season. I think it’s safe to say that United and their new acquisitions from the off season came out in a big way in the match that was nationally televised on new league partner the NBC Sports Network. However, it could have been a complete disaster for the home side if not for the heroics of United goalkeeper Joe Willis in the first ten minutes of the match.

United’s defense was playing “too aggressively”, according to head coach Ben Olsen in the first few minutes that saw FC Dallas get behind United’s back line twice, only to see Willis make stunning one-v-one saves to keep the match at 0-0. Dwayne De Rosario nearly gave United the lead in the 13th minute when his volley hit off the crossbar from 30 yards out. De Rosario and Willis would play a crucial role in giving the Black-and-Red the lead in the 28th minute. De Rosario won Willis’ goal kick and spotted Maicon Santos. The Brazilian fought off FC Dallas midfield pressure just long enough to get two touches towards goal before unleashing a left-footed 30-yard rocket that handcuffed FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, leaving him no chance to make the save.

FC Dallas would equalize in the 41st minute on a bizarre mistake by United’s defense. Willis hurriedly cleared a ball under pressure from FC Dallas forward Blas Perez. The ball caromed off the shoulder of Daniel Hernandez and was heading straight at United defender Emiliano Dudar. Dudar’s casual mis-trap kept the previously offside Perez in play and the Panamanian striker walked in on goal and slotted the ball past Willis to draw the match level at 1-1.

After the break it was all D.C. United as they unleashed a barrage of chances upon the FC Dallas goal. One flurry in the 58th minute saw Nick De Leon’s shot saved by Hartman but the rebound fell right into the path of United forward Hamdi Salihi. The Albanian was poised to rifle the ball into the empty net only to see his plant foot slip out from under him just as he was shooting. The weak effort was cleared for a corner. On the ensuing corner kick, De Leon was once again stoned by Hartman as his 18-yard blast was parried off the crossbar and out of danger.

However, just a minute later United got the go-ahead goal thanks to some beautiful passing from United. Fullback Robbie Russell pushed up the right flank and spotted Santos in the middle of the field. Santos took one touch and curled a left-footed cross into the path of De Leon on the weak side of the penalty area. De Leon allowed the ball to bounce before settling it off his chest and then hammering a left-footed volley over Hartman and into the roof of the net.

The rookie from Louisville would play a crucial role in United’s third goal in the 66th minute. De Leon and De Rosario both applied heavy pressure on FC Dallas fullback Zach Loyd along the left touchline. De Leon stripped him of the ball and headed towards goal. Danny Cruz was making a weak side run through the penalty area and De Leon spotted him and slotted a perfect pass to Cruz who sent it past Hartman for the 3-1 lead. Mercifully United ended the scoring in the 73rd minute with Santos’ second goal of the night. De Rosario sent a perfectly bending ball around FC Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu to the noggin of Santos and he easily headed to the far post for the final goal in United’s emphatic 4-1 win.

United now will face another tough Western Conference foe when they welcome the Seattle Sounders to RFK Stadium next Saturday evening at 7:30 pm. United will have an opportunity to win back-t0-back league matches for the first time since the middle of the 2009 season, a streak that has reached 84 matches.

United Notes

  • Goalkeeper Bill Hamid will be out 1-3 weeks after injuring his ankle during the US’ failed bid to qualify for the London Olympic Games this Summer.
  • Santos and Cruz scored their debut goals for United tonight
  • Hamdi Salihi was the tough luck player on the night for United with slipping on one chance and not converting on a breakaway in the second half. “I’m thrilled with the job he is doing right now. He does so many things off the ball that most people don’t notice. To see him work as hard as he works off the ball is impressive”, said Ben Olsen after the match when asked to assess Salihi’s performance

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