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DC United's Dwayne De Rosario keeps his eye on the ball. DeRo's hat trick against his former team saved United from another loss at RFK. Photo: Tony Quinn.

Late penalty, hat trick from De Rosario save United in controversal 3-3 draw with Toronto FC

DC United's Dwayne De Rosario keeps his eye on the ball. DeRo's hat trick against his former team saved United from another loss at RFK. Photo: Tony Quinn.

DC United’s Dwayne De Rosario keeps his eye on the ball. DeRo’s hat trick against his former team saved United from another loss at RFK. Photo: Tony Quinn.

Dwayne De Rosario scored three times for D.C. United, including an 88th minute penalty conversion just a minute after falling behind,  in their controversial 3-3 draw last night against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium. United’s quest to win back-to-back league matches now stands at 26 months and counting. With Toronto and fellow bottom of the table strugglers Vancouver Whitecaps coming to town in back-to-back weeks, it seemed the right time to finally string together wins.

A couple of red cards, poor attentiveness from the lead match official and a few goalkeeping blunders later, United stands frustrated with their 3-3 draw. De Rosario gave United the lead in the 19th minute when he laced a shot from 25 yards that seemed to skip off the wet gloves of  TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei and into the net. United had taken the lead after their young goalkeeper Bill Hamid was sent off for a reckless and unnecessary challenge in just the 7th minute. It seemed that United defender Brandon McDonald had things under control in attempting to defend TFC midfielder Eric Avila. However, Hamid inexplicably charged out of the penalty area and upended Avila and was rightfully sent off, leaving United shorthanded for the next 83 minutes.

After United struggled to keep the clean sheet until halftime, TFC started pouring the pressure on and got their equalizer in the 52nd minute due to sheer luck. A cross from the left side of the field came into the box and Hamid’s backup goalkeeper Steve Cronin attempted to punch the ball clear but sent it off the back of McDonald into the path of the very willing TFC substitute Peri Marosevic who only had to poke it into the empty net. United soon took the lead back with their own bit of fortune in the 64th minute when Chris Pontius’ pass seemed destined to be cleared by TFC defender Andy Iro only to see it somehow wiggle through his legs and into the path of De Rosario who faked a shot and rounded Frei and deposited the ball into the empty net to give the home side the 2-1 lead.

However, in the 69th minute all Hell broke loose on the field. Ethan White was at midfield awaiting to be brought on for the injured Brandon McDonald. Referee Jason Anno waved White onto the field but only allowed him a few steps before telling TFC to move the play along. TFC quickly took the throw-in and a pass made it to the feet of Julian De Guzman and his 22 yard shot somehow got past Cronin’s hands and into the goal. United head coach Ben Olsen exploded off the bench and immediately wanted to know why White was not allowed to assume his position on the field.

D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen shows his displeasure towards the officiating staff, Unitde's Santino Quaranto also chimes in. Photo: Tony Quinn.

D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen shows his displeasure towards the officiating staff, Unitde’s Santino Quaranto also chimes in. Photo: Tony Quinn.”

Anno did not hesitate to send Olsen off and had to fight off questions from essentially the entire United team in how he could overlook such a routine situation. One train of thought that coursed through the halls and in the media after the match was that Anno mistook White for McDonald and was waiving him onto the field and thus the reason for not blowing the whistle to restart play, which is a requirement of the Laws of the Game when bringing a substitute into a match.

Controversy aside, twenty minutes still remained in the match and all seemed lost for the Black-and-Red when another goalkeeping misplay gave the visitors a 3-2 lead in the 87th minute. A poor clearance from a clearly tiring United defense saw the ball land at the feet of TFC’s newest Designated Player Danny Koevermans. The Dutchman’s shot was right at Cronin who again seemed to misjudge the shot and it squeaked over the goal line for what surely seemed the winning goal.

However, on a night when United seemingly were against the wall in all matters, they struck again thanks to some aggressive play from substitute Austin Da Luz. Right from the kickoff, Da Luz made his way down the left flank and before he knew it, he was alone against only Frei with the goal at his mercy. Frei made the initial save and was scrambling to get back into the goal when the rebound came right to Da Luz again. This time though, Andy Iro clumsily clattered into the back of Da Luz and Anno made his one right call of the night in awarding United a penalty. De Rosario stepped up and nailed the shot for a 3-3 scoreline.

United nearly won the match just a minute later when Chris Pontius, savaged with constant cramping the final 20 minutes, made a big run towards the TFC goal only to see him tackled off the ball just inside the box. The ball rebounded right into the stride of De Rosario who had Frei one-v-one and his fourth goal and the game-winning goal on his foot only to see his rushed shot trickle wide of the right post. Ethan White had a free header 6 minutes into stoppage time but his shot was easily saved by Frei to end one of the most unforgettable nights in RFK and United history.

United Notes

  • Referee Jason Anno has been known to throw around some red cards in his brief MLS career. After tonight’s two red cards handed out, Anno has issued an astonishing 19 red cards in 29 matches
  • Because of the early red card to Bill Hamid, Stephen King drew the short straw and has his night end after only 7 minutes. Also because of that move, Ben Olsen was down to two moves to make and Charlie Davies never made it off the bench
  • Santino Quaranta was a surprise starter in the lineup this evening after being out for over two months with concussion symptoms. Quaranta said he felt just fine, if not a bit tired after the match. He was not expected to go the full 90 minutes but with the early red card, he had to suck it up for the team

Heartbreak for United as stoppage time penalty draws match with Kansas City at 2-2; United now needs major help for playoffs

D.C. United was four stoppage time minutes away from going back to the MLS playoffs. By virtue of Toronto’s awful gag job (5-0 loss to Red Bull) and Real Salt Lake’s comprehensive 3-0 win over Colorado, United was in position to advance to the postseason with a win. Julius James, hobbled with an injured hamstring, leaped over a Kansas City defender in the 82nd minute and headed home a weak clearance from Kevin Hartman and gave United brief hope that they pulled off the improbable come from behind win.

However, a stoppage time red card issued to Fred for intentionally keeping a goal bound ball out of the net with his right elbow set the stage for Claudio Lopez’ penalty conversion in the 2-2 draw tonight at Comerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kansas this evening. Rodney Wallace had a right-footed effort sting the inside of the post after the equalizer from Lopez that would have certainly seen the Black-and-Red through to the playoffs. As it stands now, United will need one scenario and one scenario only to advance to the playoffs. A Dallas draw in Seattle and a New England loss in Columbus. While both results are not out of the realm of possibility, as of this publishing, FC Dallas had a 1-0 lead in Seattle late in the first half of their match.

United came out of the game playing the obviously more attentive soccer as the Wizards had been eliminated last weekend. Julius James had a header go off the far post and Christian Gomez, later subbed out in the first half after suffering a clash of heads, missed narrowly wide. The Wizards then stepped up and got the games first goal in the 30th minute. Graham Zuisi (from Maryland) sent in a free kick that Kei Kamara got a diving header to and glanced it past United goalkeeper Steve Cronin for a 1-0 lead that held up through halftime.

After the restart, United obviously were in dire straights and got the game leveled on a rather dodgy penalty call mid-way through the second half. Fred was patrolling the right sideline and cut into the box and seemed to go down without much contact. The referee bought the move and MLS’ all-time leader in both penalty conversions and goal scoring, Jaime Moreno,  stepped up and was fortunate to beat Hartman as he got a glove on the shot but it still trickled past and the match was level at 1-1.

Later in the match, United defender Julius James suffered a hamstring injury when tracking back to defend a Wizards counter attack. The Trinidadian defender was out of the match for a few minutes and with United having used all their subs was forced to move James up top as not to have an injured player on their 3-man back line. United was awarded a free kick in the 82nd minute and when Hartman mishit his clearance, the injured but clearly athletic James rose way above the ground and easily nodded the ball into the empty net to set off a raucous celebration as it seemed United just might have pulled the rabbit out of the hat.

It was not to be however as the Wizards clawed their way back. In the 90th minute the Wizards had a corner kick and United struggled to clear the ball out and with a shot heading for the empty net, Fred stuck out his elbow and left referee Jair Marrufo no choice in showing the red card and pointing to the spot. United’s season started out on a dodgy penalty call against them and most likely also ended on a penalty called against them. Quite a turnaround considering United didn’t give up a penalty all of last season.

Now it’s a waiting game for United.

United remains alive in playoff chase with 1-0 win over Columbus

On a night when a loss would have eliminated D.C. United from the postseason playoff race, the Black and Red scratched and clawed their way to a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew last night before an announced crowd of 16,274 fans at cold and rainy RFK Stadium. In the 17th minute Luciano Emilio took Boyzzz Khumalo’s through pass and touched the ball over the onrushing Columbus goalkeeper Will Hesmer and watched it trickle over the goal line before Danny O’Rourke cleared it out to no avail. United held on as the visitors had most of the play for the remainder of the evening and defended in numbers and often times looked very much disinterested in going for a second goal to finish off the match. United had a total of 3 shots for the entire 90 minutes with no shots at all coming in the second half.

Steve Cronin made his debut in goal for United and looked the part throughout the 90 minutes. He made a number of saves, his best of which was stopping a 25th minute screamer from Robbie Rogers. Cronin was called on to make a few more saves in the first half but rarely had anything to do in the second half aside from snagging a few wayward crosses or aggressively coming off his line and punching out potentially dangerous crosses. For all the possession the visitors had in the second half, they could only manage one shot themselves in conditions that started off poorly and got progressively worse as the game wore on. By games end the hardest rain of the day was falling but United somehow escaped and now in combination with other results across MLS, United is in a 4-way tie for the last playoff spot on 39 points. As it stands at the moment, United would be out of the playoffs due to the tie-breaking procedures of MLS. However, oddly enough, even though they are closer to elimination than making the playoffs, they can still actually gain the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference. United would need first of all for Chicago to lose their last match at home to Chivas USA on Thursday night. Not exactly an impossible request seeing as Chicago has already lost four times at Toyota Park this season. United would then have to win their match in Kansas City and then would hope for a Toronto FC loss in New York (not likely) and a New England loss in Columbus (pretty likely). If that combination of games comes to fruition, United will incredibly be the #2 seed in the East and would play away to Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

Needless to say, it will be an unbelievable weekend next week and United still has very much to play for. United however still has a midweek trip to Toluca in Mexico for their final CONCACAF Champions League match. An unlikely win at Toluca would advance United into the knockout round of the tournament beginning next February. If United loses or draws, they have to hope that they match at best Marathon’s result at winless San Juan Jabloteh.