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Alvaro Saborio

Terrible start, Fantastic finish as D.C. United top Philadelphia at RFK

Washington, D.C., July 26, 2015 – The bad news – United has waited over a month to play a home game and they fell behind the Philadelphia Union 2-0 inside of four minutes. The good news – there were still eighty-six minutes to go and United used every one of them to their advantage in a stunning 3-2 come-from-behind win at sticky RFK Stadium this afternoon.

Alvaro Saborio, above (Phot0: Martin Fernandez), marked his debut with United with the opening goal of the comeback and Nick DeLeon ended it with his first goal in MLS in over a year as a season-high 19,125 fans were put through the emotional ringer once again. The victory for United (11-7-5, 38 points) pushed their lead in the Eastern Conference to seven points over second place Columbus. It was also the sixth time this season that the Black-and-Red had won after conceding the opening goal of the game. Even more mind blowing than that is that United has only led at halftime of 3 of 22 games this season.

While United will ultimately take a deep breath and enjoy the win, things started out in horrific fashion as defensive lapses led directly to both of the Union’s opening goals. In just the first ten seconds of the match, right back Chris Korb sent a lazy pass that was easily intercepted and eventually channeled to C.J. Sapong just inside the penalty area. Sapong easily brushed off Steve Birnbaum and surprisingly found himself at the penalty spot all alone and beat Andrew Dykstra to his right for a 1-0 lead.

With RFK still reeling from the early deficit, the Union doubled their lead to the disbelief of everyone on and off the field. Chaco Maidana sent a harmless ball to Sebastien Le Toux on United’s right flank. Korb gave the Frenchman a bit too much room as he centered a ball into the heart of the goalmouth. Somehow the ball managed to elude both Sapong and Birnbaum and sleepily tucked into the far post netting for an unthinkable 2-0 lead just four minutes into the game.

Although United were understandably rocked, they soon regained their composure enough to start threatening the Union goal. United got their best opportunity midway through the half when Saborio’s give-and-go with Davy Arnaud ended up with Arnaud being chopped down in the penalty area. Fabian Espindola stepped up to take the PK despite the fact that Chris Rolfe had converted his last two spot kicks. Almost predictably, Espindola sent his shot well over the crossbar to further deflate the crowd.

All was not lost however as Saborio cut the deficit in half in the 37th minute when his volleyed shot from a Korb cross beat Union goalkeeper Brian Slyvestre just inside the near post. Buoyed by that goal United took over the match after the break and it seemed like only a matter of time until they nabbed the equalizer. With the Union pinned down in their own end, United created a number of chances to equalize but were coming just a bit short.

That all changed in the 66th minute when a mountain-sized gorilla was finally lifted off the back of Nick DeLeon. It had been over a year since NDL scored on July 4th of last year and today’s goal couldn’t have come at a better time. Espindola, who had been wreaking havoc on the left flank all half long, made a rare foray into the center of the field and found himself on the ball outside the top of the penalty area. Espindola juked and jived his way into some space to unleash his patented left-footed blast. Slyvestre could only parry the ball away a few feet and that is all DeLeon needed as he slipped the rebound under Sylvestre to level the match at 2-2.

And as has been the case five times at RFK alone this season, United completed the comeback in the 79th minute when Espindola headed down a beautiful cross from Korb for the game-winner. Just seconds earlier, the Union were inches away from taking the lead when Sapong beat Dykstra to a loose ball in the box and his chipped attempt crashed down off the crossbar to set up the sequence that saw United to another head-scratching win.

After that emotional and physical roller coaster ride, United will welcome in Saborio’s old team Real Salt Lake into town next Saturday night at RFK Stadium.

 

Nick DeLeon

U.S. Open Cup: Late goals push United past Pittsburgh in extra time

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 17th, 2015 – D.C. United left it late but eventually overcame the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 3-1 this evening at jam-packed Highmark Stadium behind  goals from Kofi Opare and Nick DeLeon in the first extra time period.

With an important Eastern Conference match against New England on Sunday night, United head coach Ben Olsen decided to play every eligible (and non-injured) reserve player tonight and a few first-team regulars and it seemed to work initially as United pounced early for a 1-0 lead.

Luis Silva’s corner kick in the 8th minute was flicked on at the near post by Conor Doyle to the back post where Facundo Coria had the easiest of tap-ins to stake United to a 1-0 lead.

However the lead did not last long and it was a mistake from Kofi Opare in the 24th minute that gifted the third-division USL side a penalty kick. Opare badly misplayed a routine clearance and allowed Kevin Kerr to cut in front of him just inside the penalty area and took him down.

Rob Vincent, the USL’s leading goal scorer, easily beat Andrew Dykstra to level the match at 1-1 from the spot. Although United were dangerous on set pieces their run of play was fractured and unbalanced. Having particularly bad evenings were Luis Silva and Jared Jeffrey as they both coughed the ball up routinely while not even under heavy pressure.

Their mistakes essentially fueled the Riverhounds and all of their close chances at goal but Dykstra was up to the task.

After the break it was the Black-and-Red who started to stamp their authority on the match but could not come up with the key pass or shot to push them past their pesky counterparts.

All that changed however once the teams got to the first of two 15-minute extra time periods. Desperately wanting to avoid penalty kicks, United wasted no time jumping back into the lead as they scored two minutes after the restart. Jared Jeffrey’s corner kick was powered home by Opare and then United pushed it to a two-goal lead when Jairo Arietta’s floated cross met Nick DeLeon’s head for a perfect finish into the corner of the goal and a finish to the match.

United will now wait until tomorrow afternoon to learn their 5th Round opponent in the Round-of-16 and where the game will be played.

United will return to action this Sunday afternoon when the welcome the New England Revolution to town at 5pm. The match will be shown on ESPN2.

DC United's Chris Pontius battles for possession with LA's Omar Gonzales during their team's match at RFK Stadium in Washington DC on March 28, 2015. United would go on to defeat the Galaxy 1-0 with a stoppage time from Chris Pontius. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Pontius nets dramatic late game-winner in 1-0 victory over the Galaxy

Chris Pontius’ 93rd-minute header was the difference in D.C. United’s dramatic 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy tonight at frigid RFK Stadium. The win over the Galaxy was United’s first in ten league matches against their West coast rivals and first since a 4-1 win at RFK in June of 2008.

Both teams were playing shorthanded but for very different reasons. United (2-1-0, 6 points) was once again without their top player Fabian Espindola who is in the midst of his six-game suspension to start the season as well as Eddie Johnson, Luis Silva and Markus Halsti. Silva was deemed fit enough to play by head coach Ben Olsen after the match but felt holding him back in the brutally cold conditions was more sensible. To make matters worse for United, defender Steve Birnbaum injured his ankle just 90 seconds into the match and was forced off. Former Galaxy defender Kofi Opare replaced Birnbaum.

The Galaxy (1-1-2, 5 points) were without three of their top players in Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes and Jaime Penedo, all of whom were missing for international duty.

None the less a very scrappy match unfolded between the two most successful teams in MLS history as they share 9 of the 19 MLS Cup titles between them. United were closest to drawing first blood midway through the first half when Davy Arnaud’s diagonal ball over the weak side of the Galaxy defense hit Nick DeLeon in stride. DeLeon beat onrushing Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk to the ball but his first touch took him too far away from the open net and and the ensuing cross from DeLeon found teamate Jairo Arrieta but the Galaxy did well to scramble back into position to deny United a solid chance on goal.

As the first half wound down, the visitors started carving out some chances. The best of which was an Alan Gordon header from about eight yards out that would have beaten United goalkeeper Bill Hamid had it been either side of him. A few other half chances were easily dealt with by Hamid but it was the Galaxy who had the momentum heading into halftime.

After the break it was essentially more of what was on display in the first forty-five minutes with both sides taking turns attempting to wrestle the flow of the game from each other. United’s best chance up to this point in the match came off the head of Chris Pontius midway through the stanza as his point-blank chance was well saved by Perk to keep the game at 0-0.

As the match seemed destined for a final score of 0-0, a bit of magic happened late in stoppage time. In the last minute of stoppage time, Davy Arnaud chipped a ball deep into the Galaxy’s defensive half and DeLeon did well to out-hustle Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers and beat him to the ball. Once he got there DeLeon used a deft touch to elude Rogers and turned towards goal. DeLeon then lofted a ball to the far post where Pontius met the pass with a diving header with Galaxy defender Dan Gargan draped all over him. The ball settled into the near post and sent RFK Stadium into delirium as teammates mobbed DeLeon and Pontius and turned a draw into a win.

With the win United vaulted from 7th place into the top spot in the East (at least temporarily until all games are completed tonight) and now have six points from three matches. With the win, United now will turn their attention to the expansion Orlando City SC this Friday night in Orlando, Florida. Orlando City SC (1-1-2, 5 points) are coming off a 2-2 draw in Montreal earlier in the day.

 

United Notes

  • Midfielder Miguel Aguilar was cleared by the U.S. Government this week and received a renewal of his work permit and was available to play but did not make it off the bench
  • Steve Birnbaum suffered a left-ankle sprain in the 2nd minute and was carted off the field. The severity of the injury is unknown at the moment. Don’t expect him back in the lineup anytime soon
  • Silva is expected to be in the 18-man squad for the trip to Florida later this week
  • No timetable has been given for the extended injuries to Eddie Johnson (heart ailment) and Markus Halsti (knee). Halsti was interviewed before the match on CSN Washington’s D.C. United pregame show and said his knee was getting better and hopes to be available soon

United win game, but lose series to rivals Red Bull

D.C. United may have won the battle today, but they lost the war against their most bitter rivals in New York Red Bull.

D.C.’s 2-1 win this afternoon was not enough to overturn a two-goal deficit from their encounter last weekend at Red Bull Arena and the Red Bulls advance to the Eastern Conference final with their 3-2 aggregate win over United.

It was not without some discomfort however as United took the lead in the 37th minute when Nick DeLeon met Taylor Kemp’s sublime cross from the left flank to give the Black-and-Red the 1-0 lead. The aggregate was now down to 2-1 in favor of the visitors and United were looking to complete the comeback. With a season-high crowd of 20,187 on hand at RFK, United nearly leveled the series in the 53rd minute when Fabian Espindola’s diving header went inches wide of the far post.

The game, and essentially the series was over just a few minutes later when Peguy Luyindula poked home an equally impressive cross from Thierry Henry to level the score at 1-1. With that valuable away goal, it now forced United to score three more times to win the series outright due to the newly-added playoff scenario. With United failing to score a road goal in their 2-0 loss last weekend, any goal from Red Bull would eliminate any extra-time scenarios and would force United to win the aggregate series.

With that knowledge in mind, United threw everything at Red Bull and thought they did get the game-winning goal from Sean Franklin in stoppage time, it was not nearly enough as United’s magical run from worst-to-first came to frustrating end.

The frustration boiled over for United as Espindola was shown a red card after the final whistle for a clear shove of the assistant referee, the same assistant referee who was in the middle of the controversy surrounding Red Bull’s game-tying goal. A ball along the sideline right in front of the Red Bull bench appeared to have crossed the line but the assistant waved play on. Just a few seconds later United were pulling the ball out of their own net and were staring at the end of their season. Espindola, about as emotional a player can be in this league, lashed out at the assistant referee and was shown a yellow card by the matches referee Ismail Elfath for his badgering of the linesmen.

Espindola made a beeline towards the same referee as the final whistle blew and he lost his composure and shoved the linesmen before team officials could pull him away. Not only will Espindola be suspended for United’s season opener in 2015, one can expect a multiple game suspension for his actions as well.

That incident alone however can not tarnish the job Ben Olsen and his staff did in helping turnaround the single-worst season by an MLS club in league history in 2013. United defied the odds and finished at the top of the Eastern Conference as well as advance to the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League next February as well as gain entry into the 2015-2016 version of that same tournament which will begin in July of 2015.

The question now is what will this team look like in 2015? No doubt United will lose a player or two in the upcoming Expansion Draft, but they will also need to fill some holes in and around the squad and will need to look at reopening the pocketbook to bring in more expensive and effective players that can get this squad to the next level.

Kudos to D.C. United for an unexpected and exhilarating 2014 season. We are all looking forward to 2015.

Eddie Johnson

If I Had the Wings of an Eagle

DC United’s “worst to first” story is over. After 34 games, it’s time for second season. That’s right, playoffs.

During the dog days of the season, the major question for the Black and Red heading into playoff time was the striker position. Would it be an in-form Luis Silva, or the designated player Eddie Johnson starting alongside Fabian Espindola? Due to an ill-timed injury in Houston, it is Eddie Johnson that will lead the line on Sunday next to Fabi. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

Now, the major question in DC’s lineup comes from a position that has been locked down for the majority of the season: out wide on the wings. For most of the 2014 season, Chris Rolfe on the left and Nick Deleon on the right was the go-to pairing for DCU. However, Rolfe’s broken arm and the emergence of several other contenders for the wide position raise an interesting selection dilemma for Ben Olsen.

Heading into Sunday’s game against either Sporting Kansas City or the New York Red Bulls, Olsen can choose between Chris Pontius, Chris Rolfe, Nick Deleon, Sean Franklin, or Samuel Inkoom to provide width in DC’s attack. This depth could be key to a long postseason run, especially if they continue to deal with nagging injuries. Let’s narrow down the field to the two players that give DC the best option of winning over a two game series.

Chris Rolfe

Rolfe has been a lynchpin of DC’s chance creation this season, a revelation that arrived three games into the regular season. From his favored position on the left, Rolfe has 6 goals and 6 assists in 21 appearances. His linkup play and decision making, especially on the counter attack, has been crucial for DCU.

However, the selection of the Magic Headband is not guaranteed. Coming back off of a broken arm, it is unclear whether Rolfe is ready to jump back into the starting lineup, and a playoff matchup may not be the best time to test the waters.

Chris Pontius

The return of CP13 from a series of devastating injuries feels like a new late season signing for DC. Since his return to fitness, Pontius continues to impress, especially as he continues to regain match form, fitness, and confidence- crucial for a goal-scoring player. Pontius looked shades of his old 2012 form at home against Chicago, heading home an inch perfect cross from Eddie Johnson for his first league goal of the season.

Should Rolfe not be 100% ready to go out on the left, it is very possible that Pontius will get the nod. However, should Rolfe be ready to play, it is hard to ignore his form in the 2014 campaign. Rolfe and Pontius have yet to see the field together in 2014, or ever, so it is hard to say which player would play on the left, and which on the right.

Nick Deleon

In 2014, Deleon has at times looked similar to his outstanding rookie form, and at others has been a bit frustrating. The right midfield spot belonged to DeLeon pretty much all season, and it may be harsh to drop him heading into the playoffs. So far this season, DeLeon has 2 goals and 5 assists playing out on the right.

Compared to Rolfe and Pontius, DeLeon looks a far less menacing player to opposing defenses. However, NLD also has a history of crucial postseason goals, as everyone will remember from his 2012 strike at Red Bull Arena that propelled the Black and Red past their biggest rivals and into the conference finals.

Sean Franklin

All-star right back Sean Franklin shut down Bayern Munich (along with Bill Hamid and Bobby Boswell) in this year’s MLS All Star Game. Franklin has been outstanding at the right back position this season, but Ben Olsen has been pushing him up to right midfield and slotting Chris Korb or Samuel Inkoom into the right back slot on several occasions.

The switch to right back has mostly occurred when either Perry Kitchen or Davy Arnaud is unavailable in the middle of the field and Nick Deleon is pushed into the center. While Franklin has filled in fine out wide, he has yet to look particularly menacing in the final third. With both Kitchen and Arnaud healthy and ready to go for Sunday, we should see Franklin return to his preferred spot at right back.

Samuel Inkoom

DC United’s late summer acquisition is a curious case. A young right back and right mid that saw action in two World Cups for the Black Stars of Ghana, as well as Champions League experience with Swiss powerhouse FC Basel. Olsen appears intent on playing Inkoom out on the right, and he has looked dangerous with his speed and crossing abilities. These crosses could come in handy with Eddie Johnson lurking in the box.

Despite Inkoom’s impressive CV, he hasn’t appeared to feature regularly as of yet in Olsen’s plans. As many a player will tell you, adjusting to the MLS can be difficult, and Inkoom is probably not ready to be thrown into a playoff matchup as a starting player.

It’s Down to Olsen

Ben Olsen is one of the clear frontrunners for the Coach of the Year award, and has hardly put a wrong foot forward this season with his decision-making. In the end, whoever we see on Sunday in the wide positions will come down to the man who just recently signed a new long term contract.

The enticing option would be to throw Rolfe and Pontius out for the first time and see if they can both hit a run of form at the right time. However, as previously mentioned, Rolfe and Pontius have yet to play together for DC. On top of that, they have both been used out on the left. In order to play together, one of these attacking players would have to shift over to the right, where Nick Deleon has seen the majority of the action this season.

On Sunday, I expect to see either Rolfe or Pontius in their usual left midfield position. Due to recent form, I would give Pontius the nod on Sunday- with Rolfe likely to be used as an impact substitute. On the right, expect to see Franklin back at the right back position with Nick Deleon playing in front of him.

This is a good problem to have, and none of these players are bad options. But this is playoff time, and Olsen has to go with what is currently working. There is very little time to experiment in this phase of the season. Should a new experiment go wrong, DC could find their worst to first run ending in an early playoff exit.

Hamid comes up big as United take 2-1 win in Toronto

Bill Hamid’s last-second reflex save on Daniel Lovitz’ angled shot helped preserve a huge 2-1 win for D.C. United over Toronto FC tonight in Toronto, Ontario.

The win for United (8-5-4, 28 points) is their third road win of the season and more importantly it puts United back in first place in the Eastern Conference as they await Sporting Kansas City’s result tomorrow afternoon when they host the cellar-dwelling Chicago Fire.

Nick DeLeon’s second goal of the season opened the scoring in the 54th minute against the run of play as United had been second-best all night long. After the first forty-five minutes saw United defending in numbers and turning the ball over too easily, they decided to take a more aggressive approach and apply high pressure and it paid off for the Black-and-Red.

United’s high pressure forced a turnover and Luis Silva’s toe-poke set DeLeon off towards goal. DeLeon did well to keep TFC defender Nick Hagglund on his outside shoulder as he barreled towards goal with the ball. As he entered the penalty area, DeLeon spun TFC defender Collen Warren into the ground and unleashed a left-footed shot that squeezed between TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik and defender Steven Caldwell.

Up to that point DeLeon was more of a hindrance to United’s play rather than a factor, mirroring many of the issues that plagued United through the first fifty minutes of the match.

United’s lead did not last long however as the home side equalized in the 60th minute. With United under heavy pressure, a shot from TFC midfielder Jackson was on goal and Hamid made the save but couldn’t handle it cleanly as United were very slow to react to the rebound and Luke Moore tucked the ball for his third goal of the season.

Undaunted though, United struck back in the 69th minute and got the game-winner thanks to a Perry Kitchen header off of a corner kick. Kitchen was unmarked in the middle of the goal box and simply headed the ball down after very accurate service from substitute Lewis Neal.

With the new found lead, United pulled back and defended well over the final twenty minutes and actually went ahead a man when Hagglund was red-carded for his pulling down of Eddie Johnson on a breakaway. Initially referee Jeff Gantar only issued a yellow card to Hagglund but after consultation with the fourth official and his far sideline assistant, Gantar “upgraded” the foul to a red card offense.

United seemed relatively comfortable playing out the final minutes but not without one more heart-pounding moment at the death of the match. In the 95th minute Kitchen made a routine clearance that resulted in a TFC throw-in at midfield. With only seconds remaining a last ditch ball was curled over everyone to the far post where TFC defender Daniel Lovitz was crashing in on goal. Lovitz’ one-time shot was struck goal bound with venom but Hamid seemed to come from out of nowhere to make a dazzling save to preserve the win for United.

United now will savor this rather unexpected result and prepare for a match in San Jose next Friday night at 11pm EST. This match will be shown nationally on the NBCSportsNetwork.

Silva hat trick propels United into first place at World Cup break

Luis Silva’s first-half hat trick pushed D.C. United to a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Impact at  soggy Stade De Saputo tonight in Montreal, Canada. The win for United (7-4-4 25 points) vaulted them past the idle New England Revolution and into first place heading into a two-week break for the World Cup which starts tomorrow afternoon in Brazil.

Silva, starting in place of injured Designated Player Eddie Johnson, got United off to a quick start in the 6th minute after receiving a nice through ball from Fabian Espindola and putting the ball between the legs of former United goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Espindola, who had three assists on the night, almost didn’t make it past the opening kickoff when he was inexplicably chopped down by Impact midfielder Felipe Martins literally three seconds into the match.

United’s talisman limped to the sidelines but shook off the nasty challenge and led United on a four-goal outburst that matched their season-high for goals in a game (4-1 win over FC Dallas on April 26th). More importantly it was a key road win for the Black-and-Red as they face a road-heavy league schedule after league play starts back up at the end of June.

After the great start for United, the Impact drew level in the 12th minute through Jack McInerney. McInerney has feasted on United in his short MLS career and added his second goal against them this season when United defender Bobby Boswell was a bit too lax in closing him down and his angled shot beat goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to the far post. Dykstra was a replacement for Bill Hamid who suffered a slight knock in United’s less than enthralling 0-0 draw against Columbus this past Saturday night at FedEx Field.

United then fell behind in the 21st minute when some sloppy defending allowed the home side to take the 2-1 lead. Andres Romero did a good job weaving his way through a number of United players but his run through heavy traffic seemed destined to fall short when a toe-poke from Perry Kitchen sent the ball to United defender Sean Franklin. Franklin however displayed an uncharacteristic heavy touch which allowed Romero to swoop in and reclaim the ball and after a deke to his left, his near-post shot got by Dykstra.

Undaunted, United equalized just two minutes later when Espindola’s pass from the left flank curled perfectly into the path of Nick DeLeon to side foot into the goal for his first tally of the season.

After that point it was the Luis Silva show. United reclaimed the lead in the 39th minute when an errant pass was picked off by Espindola and his bungled touch fortunately fell into the path of Silva. Silva took off towards goal and the Montreal defense was most likely thinking that he would pass the ball to Espindola who was making his way towards the penalty area to Silva’s right. However, the now-confident Silva smoothly curled a shot from 25-yards out that Perkins could only get a finger to before it settled into the net.

Silva punctuated his performance with a stoppage-time penalty kick conversion after rookie defender Steve Birnbaum was hauled down in the area by Hassoun Camara during a corner kick. Silva stepped up and blasted his shot to Perkin’s right to give United what would be the final goal in a wet and wild 4-2 first-half.

After the break head coach Ben Olsen made the precautionary and smart move of subbing off Espindola who has easily been United’s best player through the first 15 games of the MLS season. Conor Doyle came on and encapsulated the all-out team effort to press the ball and not allow the Impact to dictate the second-half tempo.

United seemed to have stemmed the tide but a penalty called against Davy Arnaud in the 75th minute for a hand ball sent the nerves jangling a bit. However, a bit of fortune was with United on this night as Patrice Bernier’s penalty rang off the post and then the shoulder of Dykstra and somehow managed to roll over the end line for a corner. With that disaster averted the final 15 minutes was an exercise in patience and keep-away for United as they frustrated the Impact and walked out with a well deserved win.

United now will take a little time off before they play an Open Cup match in Rochester on Tuesday, June 17th against the Rhinos. If United advances against the third-division USL side, they will host a home match at the Soccerplex in Boyds, Maryland most likely against the New England Revolution in July.

United will return to league action on Saturday, June 28th when they host MLS’ other division leaders – the Seattle Sounders at RFK Stadium at 7pm EST.

Late goal costs United a win in 1-1 draw in Columbus

D.C. United was five minutes of stoppage time away from a rare three-game winning streak and tying the Columbus Crew atop the Eastern Conference standings. Hector Jimenez had other ideas when his bending shot in the 90th minute tied the match and left United crestfallen after their best 90-minute performance to date in the young season. United, seeking a bit of payback after suffering a tough 3-0 defeat to the Crew to open the season, were determined to keep their winning streak alive. They will have to settle for a now modes four-game unbeaten run.

Fabian Espindola scored his second goal of the season to put United on top in the 31st minute and despite allowing the home side Crew plenty of possession, it was United who were generating most of the dangerous chances.

Nick DeLeon’s high pressure forced a tough touch from the normally reliable Federico Higuain and DeLeon was off to the races. DeLeon allowed Eddie Johnson to run underneath him on his right which opened up room for Espindola who took one touch and rifled the ball over the shoulder of Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark.

Espindola could have and should have doubled United’s lead just two minutes into the second half. Chris Rolfe blew through an attempted tackle by Michael Parkhurst at midfield and United had a two-on-one break. Rolfe’s pass easily beat Giancarlo Gonzalez and hit Espindola in stride but the Argentine striker failed to control the ball on his less preferred right foot. United continued to allow the Crew most of the possession, but unlike last weeks match against Red Bull, United counter punched effectively. It was in the 71st minute that controversy reared it’s ugly head.

Eddie Johnson did well to poke a ball loose and was off towards the Crew goal with Parkhurst and Gonzalez frantically chasing him down. Gonzalez caught up to Johnson at the edge of the penalty area and wrestled him to the ground. Amazingly however, Gonzalez was only shown a yellow card when a red card for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity should have been the call. However just ten minutes later some sort of justice was served when Bernardo Anor was shown a straight red card for a violent studs-up tackle on Perry Kitchen.

None the less United continued to forge ahead and should have doubled the lead once again when their three-on-two break was poorly played by Espindola in the 89th minute. The resulting turnover led a fast and desperate counter from the Crew. Midfielder Will Trapp hit Hector Jimenez in stride and his bending effort from 18-yards out tucked just inside the far post for an unlikely equalizer.

United, clearly frustrated with their lack of killer instinct throughout the match, pushed forward for the game-winner but to no avail and walked away from Columbus with a valuable but hardly inspiring road point.

United now will turn their attention to the other league leader when they host FC Dallas next Saturday night at RFK Stadium. Game time is at 7pm EST