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.
- 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