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

United vs Houston: New season, same old story as Houston prevails 2-0

D.C. United fought hard but two goals in the final ten minutes were the difference in the Houston Dynamo’s 2-0 win tonight at BBVA Compass Stadium. United now is win less in nine matches all-time in Houston and has been shut out in six of those games.

For nearly the entire match, United seemed like they would buck their usual trend of losing in Houston when Bill Hamid had a penalty kick save in the first half and then he and Chris Korb made back-to-back saves on the goal line to keep the match scoreless heading to the break in the 43rd minute. Korb was fortunate to still be on the field as he appeared to take down Clark on a breakaway which usually comes with a complimentary red card. Korb stayed on and Hamid easily saved the weak penalty kick attempt from Brad Davis. Chris Pontius was the only United player to generate any offense in the first forty five minutes as his 30th minute drive just went wide of the post and his 44th minute free kick took a coat of paint off the top of the crossbar.

United conceded much of the field in the first half but came out with a bit more purpose after the intermission and nearly took the lead when a Pontius header sailed over the crossbar in the 60th minute. That essentially was the end of United’s offensive contributions as Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall didn’t even officially register a save on the night.

Just as it looked like United might be able to tough out a hard earned point on the road, Riley inadvertently headed into his own goal while trying to fend off Clark inside the six-yard box in the 80th minute. United gave up the second goal in the 89th minute thanks to a bit of luck as Warren Creavale somehow managed to keep a ball in play along the end line and found Clark at the edge of the six-yard box. The former U.S. international took one touch and rifled a shot past Brandon McDonald and Bill Hamid for the final nail in United’s coffin.

United now was the very small comfort of knowing they don’t have to go back to Houston for the remainder of the season. United now will turn their attention to their home opener next weekend against Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening.


United Notes

– Riley made his United debut as a halftime substitute for Daniel Woolard. No reason was given for Woolard leaving the match

– Marcos Sanchez and Kyle Porter also made their United debuts as second half subs late in the match