United, Dynamo settle for 1-1 draw at RFK

Washington, D.C., April 18, 2015 – Chris Rolfe’s first-half wonder strike was cancelled out by a second-half Ricardo Clark goal as D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo battled to a 1-1 draw tonight at RFK Stadium in front of 13,047 fans.

United (3-1-2, 11 points) jumped into a tie at the top of the Eastern Conference with rivals New York Red Bull with the result while the Dynamo (2-2-3, 9 points) remain in the middle of a wide-open Western Conference. The draw also extend’s the Black-and-Red’s current run to four games unbeaten (two wins and two draws) ahead of a very nasty 3,000 mile trip to Vancouver next weekend to play against arguably the leagues fastest team and their concrete Field Turf surface.

United struggled right out of the gate and had trouble dealing with the Dynamo’s physical style. It was the visitors in fact who had the lions share of opportunities in the first half hour if not for a pair of Andrew Dykstra saves in net for United.  Dykstra, subbing in for the injured Bill Hamid, was last seen for United giving up more than his share of the five goals allowed in their 5-2 loss to Alajuelense in Costa Rica in late February.

Dykstra kept United in the game and they finally broke through to take the lead in the 36th minute. Jairo Arrieta did well to control a pass and turn his Dynamo defender as he was heading towards goal in the middle of the field. Arrieta was then bulled over just outside the penalty area and Chris Rolfe stepped up to take the ensuing free kick. Rolfe hit a 22-yard curling rocket around the Dynamo wall and into the far corner of the net for his first goal of the year. Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric did well to get a slight touch on the shot before it ricocheted off the far post and in.

After the break, Dynamo coach Owen Coyle finally realized he had a bona fide United killer among his substitutes and called on Will Bruin to the field. The burly striker has scored 9 career goals against United and true to form he instantly started creating havoc for the Dynamo. While United did manage to keep Bruin off the score sheet, he was instrumental in the Dynamo creating numerous opportunities to level the match. Just minutes after a Giles Barnes shot careened off the post, the Dynamo did finally tie the match in the 65th minute.

Brad Davis’ cross from the left flank met Bruin’s near post run and his flash header forced a tremendous reflex save from Dykstra only to see the rebound carom right in front of goal where United’s defense once again were slow to react as Ricardo Clark beat Taylor Kemp to the rebound and slammed the ball into the empty net. The goal was a cruel reminder of last weekend’s rebound from a Bill Hamid botched attempt to save a goal bound shot only to see another United killer Lloyd Sam pounce and take three points away from United.

United wasn’t without their opportunities to re-take the lead but most of their efforts were long range shots or hopeful crosses that just couldn’t be met with the appropriate accuracy. United struggled all night long to put the finishing touches on any of their offensive moves and on another night Chris Pontius may have gotten that game-winner but he seemed to make the wrong decision at the critical moment on several occasions that killed United attacks. Davy Arnaud just mistimed his leap on a Taylor Kemp cross only to see it go inches over his head as he was alone inside the six-yard box. Kemp once again was the provider on a ball that DeLeon volleyed over the bar from the same distance just a few minutes later.

United’s last chance however came in stoppage time when Deric palmed over a looping header from Bobby Boswell from a corner kick and that ended any threat from both sides as they shared the spoils.

United now turn their attention to the Vancouver Whitecaps and a meeting at B.C. Place next Saturday night. United will finally welcome back striker Fabian Espindola to the squad after serving his six-game suspension from the beginning of the season. United only lost one of their six games without their leading scorer and will look to gain their first ever win in Vancouver.


United Notes

  • Hamid was left out of the squad for precautionary measures. Interestingly enough, it was confirmed after the match by head coach Ben Olsen that his thigh contusion was suffered in the Red Bull match last weekend. If this was the case, why did United allow him to train and travel with the U.S. National Team for their 2-0 victory over Mexico earlier this week? Hmmmm…
  • Miguel Aguilar finally made an appearance for United coming on for the final 15 minutes. Aguilar had played in the opener against Montreal but has not played since.
  • Olsen did bemoan the fact that back-to-back draws were “frustrating” in the midst of a 5-out-of-6 game stretch of games at RFK, beginning with last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Red Bull

DC and the Dynamo

Fresh off giving up another late goal to NY, DC United hosts a team they are not sad at all to only play once a year in the Houston Dynamo at RFK tomorrow night.

A thorn in their side ever since their inception in 2006, DC is definitely not sorry to see Houston moved to Western Conference this year meaning they now only face each other once a year. Nice for this one to be in RFK to boot as DC won in Houston for only the first time ever last year. Since their inception in 2006, Houston’s ascendency has roughly mirrored United’s demise. Aside from last year’s glimmer of possibility, United’s last run of league success was back to back Supporter’s Shield’s in ’06 and ’07, but Houston won the MLS Cups both of those years, and knocked DC from the playoffs in 2012 enroute to the Dynamo’s fourth trip to the MLS Cup final in six years as DC wallowed.

However, defending Eastern Conference champion United sits at 3-1-1 riding a three game unbeaten streak and hasn’t lost at home in their last 14 matches, but suffice it say it hasn’t all been rosy in RFK of late despite the results. DC defeated a listless Montreal and a depleted Galaxy with pretty unconvincing play and somewhat miraculous 1-0 scorelines, then looked good going 2-0 up on NY before Olsen got outcoached allowing NY to come back and tie it up 2-2 after being over matched in NY losing that one handily 0-2. Still, DC is leading the East while Houston is barely hanging on to sixth in the West at 2-2-2.

Both teams have shown the ability to keep it tight in the back, but also a pretty shaky touch in front of goal. Houston’s defense has been absolutely stunning however. Outside of an own goal, they have only allowed defending league MVP Robbie Keane and MVP runner up Obafemi Martin to notch one goal each against them in 6 games. A year removed from their worst defensive performance ever, Houston appears to have re-discovered how to lock it down under new coach Owen Coyle.

A big key for both has been the play of their goalkeepers. United pretty much relies on Hamid and hope, but Houston is absolutely beholding to Deric and the dominoes falling their way. Tyler Deric has been sick this season with save of the week three weeks running at one point, highest save percentage in the league at 91.3 (for you hockey fans tuning in because of Caps angst) and .5 goals against average that would be even better than that if he hadn’t sportingly slapped one into his own net to throw a bone to the other net-minders in the league.

A former forward himself, Coyle has shown no inclination to jazz up Houston’s offense, perhaps merely waiting out the arrival of Cubo Torres, preferring instead to park the bus playing essentially a 4-6-0 and rely on set pieces and the odd mistake for offense. Not too dissimilar to United’s approach under Olsen I might add. Doesn’t exactly make for a mouth-watering matchup in RFK for sure, but both teams do have an ace or two in their sleeve. Giles Barnes, who has 3 goals in his last 5 games against DC and the winner last week against Montreal, has been the point of the spear for Houston as Ramblin’ Ray would say, and they have a trump card in Will Bruin who has killed United with 9 of his 35 career goals coming against DC. United on the other hand has last year’s second leading scorer Luis Silva virtually all the way back to starting and both Chris Rolfe and Chris Pontius who were a big part of DC’s sweep of Houston last season.

Looking at the lineups is a bit tricky. Silva should be ready to start and go 60, but Houston is so good defensively, it might be better to go with Silva off the bench against a tired defense and keep the continuity the team has built over the first 5 games. Also, Nick DeLeon has been an Olsen favorite and he might be back from his hamstring troubles, but Michael Farfan was a more than solid replacement. He doesn’t have the flashes of brilliance, but Farfan does bring intelligence, more defensive effectiveness, and a heck of a lot less turnovers. In my opinion, Farfan should start and DeLeon settle into his likely career role as a spark off the bench. Houston has a couple likely out as well, Oscar Boniek-Garcia with a balky knee from the Montreal win and probably new defender Raul Rodriguez who got clocked in the head by Deric in the Seattle loss a couple weeks ago.

So, considering the styles of play and looking into my crystal ball, I think Olsen goes with Pontius, Arrieta, Rolfe, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, and Farfan across the midfield from left to right. Then Taylor Kemp, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, and Sean Franklin going from left to right in front of Bill Hamid.  Houston will almost certainly go with Barnes as their only “forward” with Brad Davis, Nathan Sturgis, and Rob Lovejoy, who had a goal and assist in the dismantling of Montreal last week, in front of hard men Luis Garrido and Ricardo Clark sweeping up in front of a back four of the ageless DaMarcus Beasly, David Horst, Jermaine Taylor, and Kofi Sarkodie going left to right in front of Deric.

Looking at the matchups is a bit deceiving, of far more importance is how United handles that amorphous attack coming from Davis, Sturgis, and Lovejoy in support of Barnes. DC had serious trouble with a similar overload in central attack in NY and lost handily. Olsen compensated to take the 2-0 lead against NY last game, but it took NY coach Jesse March 45 minutes to realize he could pull Dax McCarty, the hero in the first NY game, and change his tactics to a 4-3-3 and pretty much dominate the rest of the way, and Olsen’s answer was Conor Doyle and grasping at straws as NY stormed back to tie. It’s true I am hard on Olsen, but the defending coach of the year is getting outsmarted pretty regularly and always seems to be a game behind in the evolution of his thinking.

Starting Farfan was huge in terms of allowing Kitchen and Arnaud to stay connected in midfield and stifling NY at first, and it should work against Houston too. Farfan will go a long way to handling Davis especially as long as DC stays away from too many FK’s allowing Kitchen and Arnaud to throttle the center of the field defensively and even get forward turning Houston’s strength against them as their attackers will have to defend more than they’d like. Kemp also showed remarkable improvement in his defense against NY so he should be able to contain Lovejoy well enough leaving Boswell and Barnes to trade off on chasing Barnes and Ricardo Clark coming from making the run from a deep position.

However, if Coyle is any kind of fantasy fan, he knows the rule of thumb is to have Bruin on your team whenever he plays DC. When he brings in the Bear to shift more towards a true 4-5-1 with a center forward how DC handle’s that is the question. Boswell is key here. How he communicates with Opare is crucial to keeping DC’s lines intact and connected. If DC gets pulled apart by width, Bruin will have room and could cause havoc.

In the attack, DC simply has to get balls into the box from Rolfe, Kemp and god willing Franklin from wide play, as well as the odd ball over the top to Arrieta and Pontius behind Taylor and Horst. They will find no joy attacking down the center against Garrido and Clark. Their only chance down the middle is when those teeth-rattlers give up a freekick and sorry to say, but outside of a Silva being gifted a hideous wall, DC’s freekick plays have been abysmal. Barely even going forward much less being threatening. Crosses won’t work either, but they should at least open space in the middle for DC to quick pass into a chance here and there. Hopefully they put one in as Houston won’t give up much.

Looking at the intangibles, DC is coming off a home tie that should feel like a loss and Houston of a rousing home win. Interestingly, both teams have faced Montreal going paws up after an emotional midweek CCL travel game, but Houston won easily, while DC barely scraped by the Impact. DC is 2-0-1 at home and Houston is 0-1-1 on the road albeit against LA and Seattle. Overall records head to head show Houston up handily 13-6-2 against United outscoring DC 37-21 all time, but DC has managed a slight advantage at RFK going 5-4-1, albeit grimly outscored 14-16 by the Orange Crush in RFK. But DC did win the last one in DC against the Dynamo 2-0 as long as you studiously forget the 0-4 and 1-2 losses in the previous two at RFK.

On paper, this match has all the makings of a 0-0 snoozer, maybe 1-0 zero either way depending on a mistake or a brilliant play here or there. I think a tie is most likely but barring something surreal, it will ultimately come down to Hamid or Deric outplaying the other.

Houston hex is kaput as United take 3-1 win in Texas

D.C. United all but assured their Eastern Conference title with their first-ever win in Houston, 3-1 this afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Taylor Kemp’s first half rocket gave United it’s first-ever lead in the state of Texas against the Dynamo and the Black-and-Red also added goals from Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson in the second half to finally end an 8-year drought in Houston.

With the win, United only needs a draw themselves in their two remaining matches (at home vs Chicago and away to Montreal) or have second-place teams Sporting Kansas City or New England not win either or their two remaining matches to complete a highly unlikely worst-to-first situation.

Although the result was fantastic for United some bad news did come their way when forward Luis Silva, arguably United’s most effective player this season, appeared to have pulled a hamstring just minutes after the match was restarted after a first-half weather delay that lasted over an hour. Eddie Johnson subbed in for Silva and then played a major role in their historic win.

After the match was stopped in the 23rd minute due to a lightning thunderstorm, United pressed the issue and took the lead in the 41st minute. Fabian Espindola split the Houston defense and found Chris Pontius bearing down on goal. Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric’s sliding save kept Pontius off the score sheet but the rebound came to Kemp. The second-year defender from the University of Maryland took a steadying touch and unleashed an angled left-footed rocket from 18 yards through a thicket of Dynamo players and ripped the far side netting for his first-ever goal in MLS.

United continued to push forward and doubled their lead in lightning fashion in the 64th minute. United was defending a Houston free kick in their defensive half and before you could look up, United had taken a 2-0 lead. Brad Davis’ free kick flicked off of Espindola and redirected into the penalty area. Sean Franklin quickly cleared the ball up field to Espindola who was in acres of empty space. United’s talisman took off unopposed towards the Dynamo goal and scooped his shot over the hard-charging Deric just as Davis was trying to arrive on the scene. The ball easily slipped into the goal for Espindola’s tenth goal on the season to goal along with his nine assists.

However, after United had multiple chances to extend the lead to 3-0, Houston got back into the game in the 83rd minute when they were awarded a penalty when Franklin had taken down Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark. Englishman Giles Barnes stepped up and sent Bill Hamid the wrong way to cut the lead in half with just about seven minutes left in the match.

With nerves jangling knowing United’s putrid history in Houston (0-11-1 all time in all competitions heading into the match), the Black-and-Red have done what they’ve done virtually all season long – bounce back in a big way. With Houston pushing numbers forward, United caught the home side uneven on numbers as David Estrada starting the game-clinching sequence in the 87th minute. The substitute’s cross field pass from the left flank hit Franklin perfectly in stride as he arrived in the penalty area. Immediately Franklin settled the pass and pushed a delicate pass to Johnson at the penalty spot. The much-maligned striker took a touch and calmly slotted the ball past Deric to give United’s arguably it’s most important goal of the season. The goal was Johnson’s sixth of the season.

United fought off repeated challenges from the pesky Dynamo to scrape back into the game and salted it away officially when Hamid denied Clark from 20 yards out and at that point United finally had beaten the Houston Dynamo in Houston.

United will now turn their attention to their last home game of the season on Saturday night at RFK against the Chicago Fire, again needing only a draw to secure home-field advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs, and more importantly a spot into the 2015-2016 version of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage next summer.

Back-to-back losses to start busy August foreshadows potential trouble ahead

On the heels of a perfect July for D.C. United (4 wins, no losses)  and seemingly impossible thoughts of challenging for the Supporters Shield , United has come back down to Earth with a mighty thud after poor back-to-back performances on the road in Houston and Sandy, Utah.

United has yet to win in either Houston (Robertson Stadium or BBVA Compass Stadium) or in Sandy (Rio Tinto Stadium) in league play, although United did pull off an improbable 1-0 U.S. Open Cup final last October at Rio Tinto.

Point being is that the optimism that had been building all season for United’s incredible turnaround from the single-worst MLS season in the history of MLS last year seems to have taken a bit of a hit after this tough two-week trip out West.

First off was the stoppage-time goal allowed by United in Houston to deny United a badly needed point. That disappointment was followed by a thorough 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Real Salt Lake this past Saturday night. Bill Hamid had three goals fly by him before he could even register a save for crying out loud.

Granted, flat performances like the one this past weekend have been few and far between this season, especially when they seemed to occur on a week-to-week basis just 12 months ago. However the wounds are still fresh from that craptacular season in 2013 and with it follows some worry about the rest of the month for United.

Before we take a look at the murderers row of matches still awaiting United in August, we have to objectively look back at first 20 games prior to these last two losses.

Home Cooking – 12 of United’s first 20 matches this season came at RFK Stadium. For a team coming off a disastrous 2013, this was certainly welcome news to Ben Olsen and his staff when the 2014 schedule was announced.

Full credit goes to United for taking 24 out of 36 available points in that span (7 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws) but it only leaves United with 5 of their remaining 14 matches at RFK

Road Good/Road Bad – To be fair, United and Sporting KC were the only teams in MLS with winning road records before the two recent road losses. A closer look at the schedule see’s only one win against a team on the road in a current playoff position (2-1 win in Toronto on July 5th) and overall (including home games) only 5 wins out of their 11 have come from teams currently in a playoff position.

The Future – United does have a rare home game in August up next against  the reeling Colorado Rapids this Sunday night at RFK. This is a MUST WIN considering what is coming down the pike.

Now the tough part –  After hosting Waterhouse FC on Wednesday, August 20th at RFK to open United’s CONCACAF Champions league group play, the Black-and-Red’s next two road matches are trips to Sporting KC on August 23rd and the Los Angeles Galaxy on August 27th  (- that’s about as hard a Saturday-Wednesday road trip any team can take – not exactly places teams go to break road losing streaks)

To wrap up an almost impossible month of play with an admittedly thin squad, United will host bitter rivals New York Red Bulls on national television on Sunday, July 31st at 3pm.

How will United look after August is done? – Tough to say. I think it’s important to remember that all teams in MLS struggle at times and United are no different in that regard. In combination with a thin squad and logging a ton or road miles to places where this team traditionally does not fare well, it’s hard to imagine United being very competitive in those matches.

However, the well-earned gift of 37 points in the table currently affords them some losses. I can only really see Toronto FC overtaking United by months end, maybe New York too, but they too have a tough upcoming month, as do most teams in MLS.

It just seems looking in from the outside that United has a bit too much on their plate and getting off to a terrible start with those two losses have not helped the collective psyche of the team. Sunday’s match against Colorado at home is critical in trying to alleviate the pressure of  the upcoming  games. If United can manage a win against Colorado and a win against Waterhouse FC (not a given considering they went to Panama and  beat Tauro FC 2-1 last week), then maybe they can go into that road trap of KC/LA with more confidence than I am currently willing to afford them.

If they lose/draw to Colorado, then I gather it will be a brutal few weeks for D.C. United and their faithful following..


Defensive blunder in stoppage time gifts Houston 1-0 win over United

D.C. United’s horrific history in Houston just got even more outrageous. Houston Dynamo the games only goal in stoppage time thanks mostly to a pair of defensive blunders by D.C. United to secure their first win since early May and to extend their ridiculous ruin of United in Houston to 11 wins and a draw in 12 lifetime matches.

Taylor Kemp’s decision to head back toward goal instead of a routine up field clearance set of a sequence of events that ultimately ended up being the game-winning goal from none other than United-killer Will Bruin. Bruin has now scored 10 goals in 9 career matches against United.

The loss ended United’s four-game winning streak and three-game streak on the road. United didn’t lose much ground however as Sporting Kansas City could only manage a 1-1 draw at home on Friday night against the Philadelphia Union.

United though were second-best to the home side all night long being dominated in corner kicks, shots and shots on goal. United managed to carve out a few half-chances but it was the Dynamo that were pushing forward most of the night.

Bruin had two golden opportunities in the first half to put Houston in front but his two headers didn’t connect. Giles Barnes had the best chance of the night when a turnover at midfield fueled a 3-on-2 counter attack but his angled shot was kick-saved by Bill Hamid, again in fine form.

The domination continued into the second half but the chances were becoming fewer and further between for the Dynamo and it looked like United were all set to take only their second point ever from city of Houston.

But in the 91st minute that all went out the window.

Taylor Kemp, staring for the injured Chris Korb, had a bead on a long ball and inexplicably tried to play it backwards and centrally to Steve Birnbaum. The pass caught the rookie off guard but he got back in time to shield off Bruin from the loose ball. However, as Birnbaum was tracking back, Hamid was coming off his line and he hesitated in the middle of penalty area to see what Birnbaum would do. That hesitation cost United as he inadvertently tripped Birnbaum and the loose ball spilled gratefully to Brian Ownby who centered to Bruin in front of the empty net.

United tried to muster and attack at the end but the mistake was too much to overcome. One would have to think that even the 96′-99′ United teams couldn’t manage to win a game in Houston. The season was as good a chance since Houston came into MLS in 2006 for United to get a win but the song remains the same in Houston.

Episode 142 – The Talent is Back

Join the guys on this special edition of the podcast. The boys talk about DC United’s past three matches, including the draw vs Montreal, the win against Houston, and the road loss to the New England Revolution. The guys also touch base on the US Men’s National Team and the noted omissions from the 23 man roster.

Fabian Espindola , Chris Rolfe

United bounces back with solid 2-0 win over Houston

After a disappointing draw over the weekend against cellar-dwellers Montreal, D.C. United rebounded with their most impressive 90-minute performance of the season in their 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo this evening at RFK Stadium.

Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola (above; Photo: Tony Quinn) had a goal and assist each to help vault United (5-3-3  18 points) into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. Houston was coming into the match on the heels of win over the Los Angeles Galaxy over the weekend but ran into a United team anxious to make up for a perceived lackluster performance in their 1-1 draw against Montreal.

United took control of the match almost immediately by gaining control of possession and tempo. Despite the territorial advantage the Black-and-Red were having trouble breaking down the tough Houston defense.

All that changed in the 29th minute thanks to some quick thinking from coach Ben Olsen and Lewis Neal. Olsen hustled to grab the ball that went out for a United throw and tossed it to Neal who quickly chucked the ball towards midfield. Fabian Espindola easily out-muscled Houston defender Jermaine Taylor and set off towards goal.

As Espindola was starting to pull away, his no-look pass to the left hit Chis Rolfe in stride. Rolfe easily sucked in defender David Horst with a sick cutback move onto his left foot as he entered the penalty area and unleashed a low left-footed blast past goalkeeper Tally Hall for his third goal of the season.

With United in full command, all Bill Hamid had to do was stop a semi-dangerous chance from Giles Barnes just outside the penalty area as halftime approached.

After the break the visitors predictably pushed the tempo, no doubt being verbally victimized by coach Dom Kinnear during the intermission for their poor first half showing.

United’s rock-solid defense was more than enough to handle the pressure and it was a near game-tying goal by Houston that actually set the stage for the games final goal in the 63rd minute.

Will Bruin, he of the eight goals in nine career matches against United, toe-poked a ball around Bill Hamid but United’s scrambling defense easily recovered. As the ball was sent out of the penalty area, Rolfe recognized the man-on-man advantage that Espindola had upfield against Horst.

Rolfe cleanly volleyed the ball to Espindola who immediately turned towards goal with only Horst in his way. The Argentine striker forced the hulking defender into a quick back-pedal before unleashing a low left-footed daisy cutter that gave Hall no chance.

Espindola’s goal was his team-leading fifth of the season and was doubly important as United was forced to play without Eddie Johnson who was suspended for his admittedly light challenge on Troy Perkins last Saturday.

United managed to deal with the late suspension with aplomb as Olsen shifted Rolfe into the strikers spot vacated by Johnson’s absence and bringing Neal into Rolfe’s normal midfield role.

United now will have to play their third game in a week when they travel to red-hot New England on Saturday night. New England is on a bona fide heater scoring 10 goals in their past two league matches.

The match will be at 7:30pm on Saturday night and will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

United tops Houston 2-0 in Carolina Challenge Cup opener

D.C. United got their first win of the preseason tonight, a 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo in Charleston, South Carolina in the first game of the Carolina Challenge Cup. An own-goal in the 22nd minute and a Micheal Seaton goal in the 88th minute clinched the result for a United team desperate to score goals after going scoreless during their first three preseason matches in Bradenton, Florida just over a week ago.

Head coach Ben Olsen could care less how their first goal came about as the Black-and-Red gladly accepted their 22nd minute gift. Nick DeLeon, looking sharp and in much better condition than a year ago, was a handful for the Dynamo down the left flank in the first half. His cross into traffic deep in the penalty area was deflected off the head of Dynamo defender David Horst to give United their first goal and lead of the preseason.

United created a number of opportunities but could not capitalize on the lead for the remainder of the first half. Defensively there were a few nervy moments as United had to defend a number of corner kicks from one of MLS’ most potent dead-ball teams in the Dynamo. United came out of the half unscathed and in the Glass Hall Full category for United so far this preseason, the starters have yet to concede a goal.

After the break United continued their fine play and nearly scored to double the lead on a few occasions. United were most effective on the counter and in particular Fabian Espindola in combination with Eddie Johnson. The pair nearly combined for a few chances only to be snuffed out by the Dynamo defense. The best chance for the starting X1 for United in the second stanza came off the left-foot of Davy Arnaud but his shot was saved by Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric.

Ben Olsen left his starters in the match until around the 75th minute when wholesale changes were made and United sealed the match in 88th minute with quick strike accuracy. Midfielder Jared Jeffrey spotted a run by Kyle Porter and his pass over the Dynamo defense was inch-perfect. Porter tried to slide the ball under the onrushing Deric who made the save. Seaton was quick to pounce on the rebound and after taking a touch, he slotted the ball between two Dynamo defenders into the empty net for the final nail in the coffin.

United will now face the host Charleston Battery on Wednesday evening at 7:30pm. The match will be streamed live on the team’s website at



MLS announces new club on the eve of conference Semifinal matches

On the eve of the second leg of the MLS Cup Semi-finals Major League Soccer announced that Orlando City SC will become the newest member of the “club.” Orlando will join the league as the 21st MLS franchise and is set to debut, under a “purple banner,” in 2015.

Orlando will join the league’s 20th franchise, New York City FC, in league play at the same time. This is the first time since 1998 that MLS has added two clubs in one year. Back then the league added the Chicago Fire and the now defunct, Miami Fusion.

The excitement of the addition of MLS’s 21st franchise comes at a time when four teams remain in the hunt for the 2013 MLS Cup. Still in play are Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers in the West, and Sporting KC and the Houston Dynamo in the East.

Heading into their second legs respectively each team still is capable of advancing to the League’s premier event, but in my opinion, Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC hold the edge in their respective series.

Houston and Sporting will face off on Saturday November 23rd at 7:30 pm in Sporting Park to conclude their series. The teams have played to consecutive scoreless draws, including a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal series and Kansas City has only won once against the dynamo in the last five meetings at Sporting Park. Coincidentally the win came in the second leg of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals – Houston would prevail 2-1 by virtue of their 2-0 win in the first leg.

The teams are obviously no strangers to each other and Kansas City looks poised to avenge their Semifinal loss from last year to advance to this year’s MLS Cup.

In the West, Real Salt Lake holds a slight advantage over the Portland Timbers as they head into the “confines” of Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon on Sunday November 24th at 9:00 pm. Real leads the series by virtue of their opening leg 4-2 win at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT.

All Kreis’ guys need to do is not loose by more than 1 goal (to avoid extra time) to a Portland team that has not lost a competitive match in their home field since March 9, when they fell 2-1 to the visiting Montreal Impact. For Portland, overturning a 2 goal deficit is by no means impossible, but they will have to accomplish something that has not been done since 2004 when the then Kansas City Wizards came back to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes 3-2 on aggregate to win the series.

Real holds the advantage by virtue of their 2 goal lead and the fact that Kreis’ squad is ready to forget this year’s Open Cup debacle.

If I were to place a bet on the official William hill website my money would be on a Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup Final, with Sporting edging the boys from UT to win their Second MLS Cup, their first since becoming Sporting KC. A prediction I mad earlier this season on the Podcast.