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United falls 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC in U.S. Open Cup Final

Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque scored late on to give the visiting Seattle Sounders FC their first domestic trophy on their first attempt, via a 2-1 win over D.C. United last night before 17,329 disappointed fans at RFK Stadium. While the “WeWinTrophies.com” sales pitch did wonders in getting a US Open Cup record crowd into RFK, the soccer from the home side definitely let down the occasion. Josh Wicks was sent off after he stomped on the arm of Montero just seconds after he scored the opening goal in the 67th minute. Wicks, who was easily the player of the match to that point with a number of stunning one-v-one saves in the first half alone, was incensed at his sending off though television replays clearly showed a pure lack of class on the goalkeepers part.

Up to this point in the match thought it was the visitors who had bossed most of the games scoring opportunities. United only had a few chances that even bothered Kasey Keller and got nothing of danger inside the penalty area as the Black and Red were forced to unleash long range chances on goal. That all changed in the 67th minute when Freddie Ljunberg was sent in by Montero and his stabbed toe-poke was well saved from Wicks only to see the rebound fall right into the path of the Colombian striker. As he lay on the ground Wicks inexplicably stepped on his arm. Although the head referee Alex Prus and assistant linesman Rob Fereday missed the play, fourth official Andrew Chapin saw it clearly from midfield, as did many United fans seated just behind on the Quiet Side of RFK.

With United trailing and now down to ten men, Head coach Tom Soehn inserted backup goalkeeper Milos Kocic and subbed out the ineffective Christian Gomez. United poured forward to no avail as shot after shot was blocked by the bunkered in Sounders defense and then Seattle put the game past all doubt in the 86th minute on a counter attack. United defender Dejan Jakovic was left alone to defend Seattle forward Sebastian Le Toux down the left sideline. Le Toux seemed to get away with a foul just before they got to the end line and the Frenchman simply fed the ball across the goalmouth to waiting substitute Roger Levesque to put away for a 2-0 lead.

What little life United had remaining did conjur up a goal to halve the deficit in the 89th minute. Santino Quaranta’s free kick was deflected right into the path of Clyde Simms who easily slotted into the goal and gave United a brief albeit fading lifeline. United sent the kitchen sink forward but never really threatened to score in the resulting 5 minutes of stoppage time allowed by Prus.

Seattle Sounders FC walked into RFK Stadium with a ton of bravado and walked out with a well deserved U.S. Open Cup championship to take back to the Emerald City. United sits and waits for a rematch in 10 days at RFK.

United ends long road drought with massive effort in 1-0 win in Chicago

D.C. United got a much needed road win and snapped the team right back into a playoff position with a tough fought 1-0 win in the Windy City over the Chicago Fire. Bryan Namoff’s second headed goal of the season was all the Black and Red needed on a night that saw United pull off their second consecutive league shutout. United has been MLS’ worst defensive road team this season and perhaps their visit to Chicago was exactly what they needed to snap themselves out of a bad patch of form. United has now won three consecutive matches at Toyota Park and they have jumped back over Toronto FC help their playoff positioning. United only has two road matches remaining this season with five home matches sandwiched in between them.

United got the scoring started in the 11th minute with a rare headed free kick goal. Christian Gomez lined up a free kick from about 40 yards out on the right side of the field and the ball whipped into the box and met the head of Bryan Namoff who skimmed it easily to the far post and a 1-0 lead for United.

Chicago continued to pour forward throughout the remainder of the first half but while they presented some dangerous and nervy moments for United in their barely used 4-4-2 formation, they rarely challenged United netminder Josh Wicks. A header from CJ Brown and a wayward Cuauhtemoc Blanco free kick from 19 yards were the only serious challengers for United. United managed to hold on and get to the locker room with the 1-0 lead.

With United’s penchant to give up leads and goals throughout the MLS season, United went from their familiar 3-5-2 to a more defensive 4-4-2 to start the match. After the goal in the first half, that actually morphed into a 4-5-1 when it was clear that Ben Olsen couldn’t hack playing on the right side of midfield . As the second half progressed, it seemed United was more interested in bunkering down than settling the ball and counter attacking. It seemed obvious the goal was to frustrate the Fire and try to hold on to the lead for as long as possible. But somewhere along the way United figured their best defense could be their best offense.

United almost doubled their lead in the 63rd minute when a sustained period of possession resulted in a near goal from Ben Olsen. March Burch sent a driving ball to the far side of the penatly area where Santino Quaranta one-timed his volley to Olsen who’s toe-poke just narrowly went wide of the far post. Chicago nearly equalized a minute later but Wicks dove to his right to smother a Marco Pappa drive. Amazingly, the Black and Red came right back down to the other end of the field and Luciano Emilo forced Jon Busch off his line and he made a jumping reaction save to Emilio’s attempted chip over the diminutive goalkeeper to keep the scoreline at 1-0 for United.

United continued to gain more traction in the match and actually carved out a number of decent chances but couldn’t put anything behind Jon Busch. Marc Burch might have had the best opportunity on a rare counter attack in the 75th minute when substitute Jaime Moreno fed him down the left flank and the left-footer with a hammer for a peg hesitated when an open look on his preferred left foot was available. He instead chose to fake his oncoming defender and eventually sent in a cross that caused a few defensive problems for the Fire but was eventually cleared out of danger.

Chicago nearly got the game-tying goal in the 85th minute when a Blanco cross was met by Mike Banner who headed  it into the middle of the United goal area. Julius James and Josh Wicks nearly collided but the Jamaican defender managed to get the ball over the bar to keep the shutout intact.  Chicago nearly had another chance to tie in the 90th minute when James fouled a Chicago attacker right at the top of the box, but Blanco misfired for the third time in the match and United knew at that point that the win was in the cards. The match had a very unusual conclusion which saw Josh Wicks nearly come to blows with his own teamate Marc Burch. Wicks was complaining about the fact that Burch seemingly was lax in his defending a Chicago onslaught. Cooler heads prevailed however and United got back to finishing off the match.

 

 United now will face the Seattle Sounders FC in the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium. United will have the opportunity to win their 13th major trophy in their existence. For anyone keeping score, that’s 13 more than Metrostars/Red Bull have ever gotten, should United win the match.

 

United Notes

– Danny Szetela and new signing Ty Shipalane were left back in DC. Andrew Jacobson (ankle) was out injured and also left back in Washington.

– Big thumbs down for Fox Soccer Channel when at halftime, their 6 in 60 segment (a series of questions in one minute) included a question for Santino Quaranta about “your preferred choice of adult beverage”. Apparantly no one at FSC bothered to realize that the youngster is in the throws of substance abuse recovery. Nice job.

– Thanks to results across the league, United is still out of a playoff position in 9th place. They could drop even further if the Colorado Rapids win on Sunday afternoon.

– Dejan Jackovic is now suspended for United’s next match at Dallas next Saturday when he got a late yellow card during the Wicks/Burch bust up.

United gains rare shutout in 0-0 draw with Galaxy

D.C. United set a club record with it’s 11th draw of the season in last nights 0-0 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of a season high 22,000 plus at soggy and humid RFK Stadium. While the defensive effort was a massive improvement over performances from the last two months, the offensive now all of a sudden is missing in action. That’s not entirely the truth however as United did actually score and yet again was wrongly denied a goal by an incorrect offside decision. United has already had three apologies from league officials on separate occasions this season when decisions made by officials have gone against the Black and Red and there is no reason to believe a fourth apology is forthcoming later this week.

In the eight minute Luciano Emilio timed a run beautifully and snapped a shot past Los Angeles goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for an apparent 1-0 lead. However the far side assistant referee had his flag raised for offside. Subsequent replays showed that Emilio had at least two Galaxy defenders keeping him onside when Fred clipped the ball over the defense for his fellow Brazilian to latch onto. To United’s credit however they didn’t let it affect their play and remained resolute in their defending and allowed the Galaxy only a few dangerous chances throughout the entire match to gain the valuable shutout. United did have another bone of contention in the 67th minute when it appeared that Galaxy defender shoved Emilio to the ground in the penalty area. Referee Mark Geiger waved the play away but again replays showed no effort from the Galaxy defender to play the ball while Emilio had made a nice chest trap move to avoid the Galaxy player and he was shoved to the ground for his efforts.

At the end of the day this was a match that United sorely needed three points from and only garnering one point is hurting the squad right now. United remains just a single point out of the eighth and final playoff spot, thanks to Toronto’s 2-0 loss in Los Angeles to Chivas USA. However, a New England home victory tonight over Real Salt Lake could push United to 10th place overall. Conversely, should RSL take the points, they too would move a point above United in the playoff chase.

United will now direct their attention to their Wednesday evening CONCACAF Champions League match with Toluca of Mexico at RFK. After that United has to go on the road yet again and face the Chicago Fire. The good news there is that United actually won both of their road matches at Toyota Park last season.

United Notes

– Head coach Tom Soehn was not on the sidelines tonight and was tested for the H1N1 virus after coming to work on Friday very ill. Chad Ashton and Mark Simpson took over the coaching duties with Ashton meeting the media afterwards.

– Danny Szetela has managed to find himself in the doghouse in record time. No details were given of his indiscretion.

– David Habarugira didn’t make the final 18 last night and not suprisingly defender Greg Janicki was left off as well.

– Boyzzz Khumalo has had complications from his wrist surgery and is apparently out for another four weeks of recovery.

Late goals sink United in Champions League group play opener

Two late goals from Jerry Palacios and Mario Berrios set Marathon of Honduras on to a 3-1 victory over D.C. United last night in the opening match of the CONCACAF Champions League in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Defensive blunders were once again the undoing of the Black and Red and they left Honduras with an undeserved loss to open their group play account.

Defender Greg Janicki had a big part in all three goals allowed and it was too much to overcome for the visitors who had played very well for most of the evening. Janicki’s misplay of an otherwise routine clearance in the penalty area gifted Marathon a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute. Janicki whiffed on his left-footed clearance and the ball landed on the foot of former United target Walter Martinez who easily tapped it into goal for the lead.

Both teams got to halftime and United were the aggressors from the restart. In the 48th minute United scored on a corner kick when halftime substitute Santino Quaranta sent in the cross that met the forehead of Julius James. His shot was well saved by the Marathon goalkeeper but the rebound was nodded in by Luciano Emilio to level the score. Emilio had a clash of heads with a Marathon defender on the play and had to leave the match temporarily to attend to a gaping head wound that left him very bloody on the field.

From that point United were the much crisper and aggressive team as their midfield dominated the Honduran side who resorted to long-ball tactics to relieve the pressure. United should have taken the lead in the 64th minute when Quaranta sent in a laser presice diagonal cross to the onrushing Devon McTavish who’s diving header was once again well saved.

United would rue that missed opportunity for in the 83rd minute Jerry Palacios got inside and behind Janicki and slotted the ball past Josh Wicks for the game-winner. A late penalty was dubiously awarded to the home side a few minutes later when Janicki took down Palacios with a hard tackle in the box. Mario Berrios’ first PK attempt was saved by Wicks but the referee awarded a retake when Clyde Simms encroached into the box. Berrios made the subsequent shot and the final was 3-1 to Marathon, a flattering scoreline for sure considering how well United had played on the evening.

 

United Notes

– Not a banner day for the FSC announcing team of Christian Miles and Christopher Sullivan. Both men made numerous mistakes through the evening, the most aggregious of which was Sullivan’s constant pointing out of United’s “return match at RFK”. It wasn’t until the 92nd minute when Sullivan had realized that this was a group phase and not a two-leg aggregate series. Miles, a person I have slagged on more than one occasion both on the air and in print, was a complete nightmare. In talking about debutant David Habarugira – “it’s his MLS debut tonight”. I love the commitment to soccer that FSC provides, but the sometimes cable access feel of the network is a bit too comical. Last night was no exception

– Danny Szetela and Bryan Namoff remained in DC to train ahead of the Galaxy match on Saturday night. Dejan Jakovic, Christian Gomez and Marc Burch did not make it off the bench. Jakovic was not on the 18-man roster

United’s road misery continues; lose 2-0 in Toronto

During United’s six-game out of seven on the road stretch, it’s been the defense that has let the side down and seen the Black and Red go from the top of the Eastern Conference to fourth place and possibly out of a playoff position depending on later results. Today however it was a slow, lethargic and ultimately predictable attack that gave little trouble to the homestanding Toronto FC as they rode a pair of goals on either side of halftime to a comfortable 2-0 win over the Black and Red.

United ended their road away from RFK without winning a single match, losing three and drawing three and giving up a mind-numbing 15 goals in the process. One would think the pressure is off but now United has a whole set of other problems including injured players and involvement in three seperate competitions that will leave United shorthanded and tired for the next month.

Dwayne De Rosario’s 30th minute header and O’Brian White’s first ever MLS goal in the 66th minute  was all Toronto needed on a day where United offered very little in attack. Toronto was on a six-game winless streak going into the match but you never would have known it as United did well to possess the ball, but rarely did anything ever come from it. Toronto keeper Stephan Frei made a sharp angle free kick save on Marc Burch midway through the second half and was beated by a Santino Quaranta left-footed blast in stoppage time only to see Amado Guevara of all people heading off the goal line.

United will now fly down to Honduras to take on Marathon in the first match of the group phase of the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday evening. Seeing as United’s league play is taking a turn for the worse, this competition couldn’t come at a worse time for United. United’s next league match is next Saturday at RFK against the red-hot Los Angeles Galaxy.

 

United Notes

– Ben Olsen was serving a yellow card suspension today. Danny Szetela was left back in Washington to rest ahead of the match in Honduras.

– Julius James made his debut late in the second half for United. David Haburagira was also signed on Friday but was not available today. Ange N’Silu was placed on the disabled list to make room for both of United’s signings. A roster move will have to be made when N’Silu comes off the six-game wait. Another roster move will also have to be made when Harrisburg midfielder Ty Shipalane joins United after the USL-2 playoffs are completed later this month.

– Bryan Namoff will not make the trip to Honduras in an effort to rest and rotate players ahead of a greuling stretch of games

United falls 3-0 to Spanish giants Real Madrid

D.C. United fought hard for just about 55 minutes before the inevitable talent of Real Madrid took over as the Black and Red fell 3-0 to the Galacticos before 72,368 fans at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. United hung tough with the Spanish giants for just over a half when Real Madrid substitutes Raul and Arjen Robben sliced and diced their way through a thoroughly exhausted United defense to finally give the visitors the lead they richly deserved. Two goals in two minutes from Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain finally did in the Black and Red. Higuain scored in the 57th and 59th minutes. Arjen Robben finished the scoring ten minutes later for the final 3-0 scoreline.

 Both teams came out and slogged their way through the first 45 minutes of the match, though it was the Galacticos who had all the play. United goalkeeper Josh Wicks made a number of good saves throughout the first half and also got help from defenders Marc Burch and Greg Janicki, both of whom made key stops to keep the planet’s most expensive team off the scoreboard in a 0-0 first half. It took 28 minutes before United could even register their only shot of the half, though United did seem to play a bit better after their lone shot by pressing higher up the field.

After halftime United suprisingly made no substitutes after seeing a number of the Black and Red players wilt in the first half heat and humidity. However, it didn’t take long before Real Madrid’s class would show. Gonzalo Higuain sent the visitors on their way to a comfortable win over a clearly overmatched and exhausted United. In the 57th minute, a Real Madrid defender snuffed out a weak corner kick attempt from United and countered brilliantly. Madrid’s all-time leading scorer Raul led the attack and fed Higuain who seemed to run past numerous United defenders and finally slipped the ball under Josh Wicks for the 1-0 lead. Just two minutes later the visitors were frightening in their counter speed as Arjen Robben split two United defenders and unselfishly fed Higuain who rounded Wicks and slotted in for a 2-0 lead.

United seemed to settle down but in the 69th minute all hope for an unlikely United comeback was snuffed out when Arjen Robben chipped substitute goalkeeper Milos Kocic. Kocic seemed to get to the ball just as it was crossing the line but the assitant linesman ruled it had crossed the line. Replays were inconclusive but it seemed that Kocic just might have made the save. United did manage a bit more threat in the second half when substitute goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek was called upon to save a Christian Gomez effort just seconds into the second half. United would only challenge one more time through a Luciano Emilio shot in the 76th minute that was easily saved by Dudek from a narrow angle.

United Notes

  • United will next play in Toronto this upcoming Saturday at 4pm EST. From there begins a grueling stretch of matches that will see the team playing 7 matches in 21 days, including two CONCACAF Champions League matches (@ Marathon 8/19; home vs Toluca 8/19) and the U.S. Open Cup Final (Sept 2nd) vs Seattle Sounders FC
  • Bryan Namoff, Santino Quaranta, Ange N’Silu, Boyzzz Khumalo and Brandon Barklage were all held out due to injury issues.
  • Ben Olsen is suspended for the upcoming match at Toronto FC due to yellow card accumilation.

United’s comeback comes up short; Lose 4-3 in Houston

If D.C. United has been known for one thing this season, it’s that no matter how far back they fall in any particular match, they have the ability to comeback. After giving up three goals in three minutes early in the first half and also falling behind 4-1 midway through the second half, United put forth a furious rally that fell just short as they lost to Houston 4-3.

While Tom Soehn can feel good in the fight that United put up when they were down big, getting down big has to be the overriding factor in this match. While United has been rock solid at the comfortable confines of RFK Stadium, the results and the play falls off dramatically away from East Capitol Street. United now has a 1-4-6 road record while giving up an astonishing 24 goals in those 11 road matches, easily the worst road defense in the league.

Brad Davis’ goal got the ball rolling in the first half. United goalkeeper Josh Wicks evidently never saw the shot as it whistled just past him into the far side netting. Just a minute later a United turnover in midfield saw Brian Ching running towards the net. United defender Bryan Namoff was there but inexplicably laid off the slow-footed Ching and decided to take away his far post angle rather than tackle him off the ball. The Hawaiian rifled his shot past Wicks and it was 2-0. While United was licking their wounds, Houston struck again a minute later. Good work on the flank between Davis and left-back Mike Chabala set Ching up in the middle of the box. His one-timer easily beat Wicks and this matched seemed to be over, especially considering United’s futile history in Houston (at the time, never even scoring at Robertson Stadium).

At the half, Soehn made two tactical changes by bring Christian Gomez and Ben Olsen off in favor of Luciano Emilio and Avery John. United ditched their traditional 3-5-2 formation to stop the bleeding in the back and went with a 4-4-2 with Marc Burch moving centrally. It seemed to work as Emilio scored within three minutes of the restart. Namoff sent a free kick into the path of the Brazilian and he sent a shot that fortunately deflected off Houston defender Julius James and past Pat Onstad to make it 3-1. United were really starting to apply the pressure on the home side but a controversial penalty call went against the Black and Red and Stuart Holden converted for a 4-1 lead. Most people would have given up at that point but this season’s United almost pulled off their greatest heist of the season. Fred scored on a beautiful curling shot to start the comeback and Emilio got on the end of a goalmouth scramble to head home his second goal of the game in the 83rd minute and thoughts of another miracle were starting to grab hold.

However it was not to be as the Dynamo killed off the rest of the match and came out winners. Although United lost this match (only their 4th loss in 20 league games), the didn’t lose ground on teams who are trying to catch them in the Eastern Conference standing. New England and Toronto played to a 1-1 draw at Foxborough leaving TFC one point behind United with the Revs now trailing United by 4 points. The other team in the East with a reasonable chance to make a run at United was Kansas City. They got absolutely hammered 6-0 at Dallas.

Next up for United is their away leg Tuesday evening  to L.A. Firpo in a CONCACAF Champions League qualifier. United and Firpo tied 1-1 last Tuesday at RFK Stadium. With away goals counting, United needs an outright win, or a multiple goal draw to go through to the group phase. If the match ends up tied at 1-1, overtime and possibly penalties will decide the winner. United is off next weekend from MLS play but will have their hands full when Real Madrid comes to FedEx field on Sunday afternoon. Their next league match will be at Toronto FC on Saturday, August 10th.

 

United Notes

– Ben Olsen’s first half yellow card will see him suspended from their match at Toronto FC. Just as well as playing on that carpet wouldn’t have been the best thing for him

– Emilio’s two-goal performance in a losing cause may be a blessing in disguise. He had been struggling most of the season and scoring a brace could be the jumpstart United needs

– Danny Szetela got the assist on Emilio’s second goal for his first point with United

– United is still mum on the potential signing of Burundi defender David Habarugira. It seems they need all the defensive help they can get as they keep on leaking goals on the road.

United loses lead again, but holds on for 2-2 draw in San Jose

There used to be a time when D.C. United got on top of their opponents and the game was essentially over. It seems, at least in 2009, those days are long gone. United got out to a 2-0 lead last night in their match at San Jose but couldn’t hold the lead and in many respects were quite fortunate not to lose the match. United held on for the 2-2 draw which now sees them all alone in 3rd place in the very crowded Eastern Conference standings. A win would have vaulted United into a first place tie with Columbus, 3-2 comeback winners over Toronto FC last night.

San Jose, buried deep in last place in the Western Conference, was a team ripe for the picking in that they have been playing very poorly for nearly two months. However, United let them up off the mat and walked out of Buck Shaw stadium with only a point and more frustration for their season-long failures on the road. Things did look promising from the start however when United was awarded a penalty in the 2nd minuted when former United defender Mike Zaher bundled into Luciano Emilio. After a brief argument between Emilio and Gomez about whom should take the spot kick, the Argentine won out and calmly beat Joe Cannon for the quick 1-0 lead.

United continued to threaten and in the 21st minute got themselves a rare two-goal lead. Andrew Jacobsen’s 30 yard blast was deflected by Zaher right into the path of Gomez, who appeared to be a few yards offside. Gomez easily beat Cannon and it was 2-0 for United. Replays showed Gomez was fractionally onside when the shot was taken. At this point the match began to tilt in San Jose’s favor. United lost control of it’s midfield and gave up the first goal when they failed to clear the ball on numerous occasions in the 36th minute. A cross from the left flank was deflected by United but still Cornell Glen outmuscled Dejan Jakovic to flick the ball to the back post where Ryan Johnson’s one-timer shot easily past Josh Wicks to halve the defecit to 2-1.

After the break it was more of the same for the home side as wave after wave of attack seemed to unerve United. The overall speed of San Jose was causing major holes in United’s 3-5-2 formation and United’s lack of composure on the ball ended up ceding the game-tying goal in the 62nd minute. Darren Huckerby sent a free kick from the left flank into the box only to see Wicks whiff and miss at the ball but it clearly slapped off the hand of Rodney Wallace, giving referee Kevin Stott no choice but to point to the spot and Glen stepped up and easily beat Wicks to his right to tie the match at 2-2. On watching replays of the hand ball, it was clearly evident that the ball would have gone straight out of bounds for a throw-in had it not been for Wallace’ inexplicable hand being above his head. Another in a long line of mental errors from the rookie that have ultimately cost United points this season. Wallace received a yellow card on the play and now is suspended for their next league match at Houston next Saturday evening.

From this point, United could only offer a weak shot over the goal by Emilio minutes after the game-tying penalty kick and a 90th minute shot from Fred directly at Joe Cannon. It was easily one of the worst halves of soccer played by United all season long and it couldn’t have come against a worst opponent or the worst time considering the crush of matches that faces United over the next two and a half months.

 

United Notes

– United faces L.A. Firpo of El Salvador on Tuesday night at 8pm at RFK Stadium in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup qualifier

– United’s next league match is away to Houston next weekend at 8:30pm. United has never scored in three matches at Houston. Houston is coming off a poor 1-0 home loss to New England and will be welcoming back Stuart Holden and Brian Ching from the Gold Cup. Translation – not much hope for United

– Clyde Simms had successful hernia surgery this week in Germany and will be out at least three weeks according to club officials. Boyzzz Khumalo will be out at least six weeks after his wrist surgery this week

– The match tonight begins a ridiculous stretch of matches for United. Including last night’s match in San Jose, that will be 5 matches in 15 days

      – 7/28 vs Firpo

      – 8/1 @ Houston

      – 8/5 @ Firpo

      – 8/9 vs Real Madrid

United defeats Red Bull 2-0; Capture yet Another Atlantic Cup

Santino Quaranta and Jaime Moreno scored on either side of halftime to give D.C. United a much needed 2-0 victory last night over New York Red Bull in front of 11, 226 drenched fans at rainy RFK Stadium. Josh Wicks sealed his second shutout in three matches with a flawless performance capped off by a stunning one-handed diving save of a goal bound Juan Pablo Angel shot in the 86th minute to help preserve the victory. Moreno scored his MLS all-time leading 126th goal in stoppage time just a few minutes later after United caught Red Bull pressing forward  in a desperate attempt to draw the match.

Karma served notice on the play in particular as it appeared that Christian Gomez did his best to drag his legs across the prone body of Red Bull goalkeeper Jon Conway. Considering United were seemingly robbed last week in stoppage time with a Taylor Twellman off-balance flop to the ground to give the Revs a game-winning penalty, United were finally repaid with the same sort of justice.

United dominated the lions share of possession for most of the match and even though the game produced much fewer goal scoring opportunities than in past United home performances, this seemed to be the most complete 90 minutes the team had played all season long. Head coach Tom Soehn disagreed with that notion in the post-game news conference saying “We didn’t get as many chances as we normally do, but that might have had something to do with the conditions.” None the less, United did get the upper hand in the 36th minute on one of the best goal sequences of the season for the Black and Red. It started with a throw-in in front of United’s bench that was headed on by Ange N’Silu to Luciano Emilio who duly headed it into the path of the overlapping Fred. Fred deked Red Bull defender Carlos Mendez to the ground and expertly rounded him and got to the endline and sent a pass back towards the penalty spot where Quaranta beat Jeremy Hall to the ball and he side-footed the ball into the net before sliding into the end boards on the wet turf.

United continued their dominant play and second half substitute Christian Gomez made an immediate impact and almost scored twice within about 20 seconds in the 48th minute. Gomez latched onto a nice backheel pass from Emilio just inside the Red Bull half and Gomez launched himself towards goal. United’s #10 unleashed a low rasping shot from 25 yards that Conway did well to parry away to his right. Emilio picked up the loose ball and then crossed back into the box only to see Gomez’ headed effort skim the top of the crossbar past a clearly beaten Conway.

More controversy developed in the 63rd minute with the substitution of Emilio out of the match for Jaime Moreno. Emilio, appearing very upset at the move, launched a rack of water bottles onto the field. The referee’s assistant got the attention of both the 4th official and lead official Terry Vaughn about the incident. Seconds later Emilio was shown a straight red card. Asked about the incident on two different occasions after the match a clearly agitated Tom Soehn said “we’ll talk about it at training tomorrow”.

As the match wore on, Red Bull got more of a foothold in United territory and nearly equalized in the 86th minute. Juan Pablo Angel got on the end of a flicked on pass from Dane Richards and the Colombian one-timed a shot headed for the right side of Josh Wicks’ goal. United’s keeper dove quickly to his right and palmed the ball out for a corner kick. Just four minutes later and with most of Red Bull in the penalty area trying to take advantage of another corner kick, United got the ball out of danger and Jaime Moreno lead a jail break to the other end of the field. Moreno sprinted with the ball for a good 50 yards before timing Christian Gomez’ overlapping run to perfection by laying the ball off in stride with the Argentine midfielder. Gomez’ first touch took him in alone on Conway and Gomez pulled off the veteran move of dragging his legs across the goalkeeper as he was rounding him. Terry Vaughn, no stranger to stoppage-time penalty decisions, pointed right to the spot.

Replays showed that Gomez was on his way down before contact was made and the bad karma from last weeks decision was wiped away as Moreno deposited his penalty kick easily past Conway for the final goal in United’s 2-0 win.

Up next for the Black and Red is a 9 day layoff before facing Conference leaders Chicago Fire on Saturday, June 13th at RFK Stadium at 7:30 pm. This game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

United Notes

  • Once again Louis Crayton was left off the 18-man roster. While no one is saying so in the front office, it appears that Crayton will no longer be a member of DC United come July 1st when his contract runs out
  • Emilio’s red card will have him miss the next match against Chicago. Emilio will eligible to return against Seattle on June 17th
  • Ben Olsen is still a few weeks away from returning to the lineup. Olsen was in good spirits as usual sitting up in the Directors Box
  • Had a chance to have a nice chat with former United coach Peter Nowak after the match. Interesting insight on his plan to build the expansion Philadelphia Union and equally good insight on his thoughts of the US’ performance in Costa Rica on Wednesday. Nowak’s main beef about the performance was the lack of preperation time the team had together prior to the match.

Controversy ends United’s seven game unbeaten streak as they fall 2-1 to the Revolution

It’s not been a good week to be a referee in MLS. The Chicago Fire defeated Chivas USA on Thursday evening on the back of a terrible penalty decision in stoppage time and tonight in Foxborough, Massachussetts the home side New England Revolution were benefactors of a similar game deciding call.  Steve Ralston converted the spot kick to give the Revs a 2-1 victory over United and halt the Black and Red’s seven match unbeaten streak.

The game changing decision was made after the ball was already on it’s way back out of the United penalty area. Taylor Twellman, making his first appearance of the season, showed he didn’t have to do his normal duty of pounding goals past United to affect the match. Twellman was backing into United defender Bryan Namoff and seemed to simply lose his balance and fall easily to the turf. The assistant referee whistled for the penalty that subsequent replays showed to be a rather terrible call. Ralston sent the ball to the left of goalkeeper Josh Wicks for the game-winner.

The game did start out however in United’s favor as their almost season long pattern of dominating play early came to fruition. United twice struck the post through Luciano Emilio and Fred only for Fred to finally convert his first goal of the season in the 36th minute to give United a deserved 1-0 lead. The play began when midfielder Clyde Simms’ shot was poorly cleared by the Revolution defense and found it’s way to Emilio. Emilio controlled the ball and layed a soft pass into the path of the onrushing Fred who curled his 18 yard shot past Matt Reis.

As has been the case for most of the season however, United allowed their opponents to stay in the match. While a second goal for United most probably would have been enough for the win, that second goal never came and the home side equalized after a very bright start to the second half. Shalrie Joseph’s header tied the match when Wicks came out of the box and whiffed on his punch clearance and Joseph simply headed into the vacated net. The Revolution continued their push forward and while they didn’t create any really dangerous chances until the late game controversy, United didn’t exactly threaten much either.

D.C. United will now look to take their frustrations out on their most hated rival New York Red Bull on Thursday night at RFK Stadium. The match will be televised nationally on ESPN2 starting at 7:30 pm. Red Bull dropped a 3-2 home match to Colorado on Saturday night and very well may have a new coach by game time as embattled Carlos Osorio is facing immense pressure.

 

United Notes

– Christian Gomez remained behing in DC with a toe injury that most likely wouldn’t have responded well to the Gillete Stadium Field Turf

– Until the Joseph second half goal, United had actually put together a nearly 190 minute scoreless stretch defensively covering their last three matches (@ Chivas USA, RSL and tonight)