Defensive blunder in stoppage time gifts Houston 1-0 win over United

D.C. United’s horrific history in Houston just got even more outrageous. Houston Dynamo the games only goal in stoppage time thanks mostly to a pair of defensive blunders by D.C. United to secure their first win since early May and to extend their ridiculous ruin of United in Houston to 11 wins and a draw in 12 lifetime matches.

Taylor Kemp’s decision to head back toward goal instead of a routine up field clearance set of a sequence of events that ultimately ended up being the game-winning goal from none other than United-killer Will Bruin. Bruin has now scored 10 goals in 9 career matches against United.

The loss ended United’s four-game winning streak and three-game streak on the road. United didn’t lose much ground however as Sporting Kansas City could only manage a 1-1 draw at home on Friday night against the Philadelphia Union.

United though were second-best to the home side all night long being dominated in corner kicks, shots and shots on goal. United managed to carve out a few half-chances but it was the Dynamo that were pushing forward most of the night.

Bruin had two golden opportunities in the first half to put Houston in front but his two headers didn’t connect. Giles Barnes had the best chance of the night when a turnover at midfield fueled a 3-on-2 counter attack but his angled shot was kick-saved by Bill Hamid, again in fine form.

The domination continued into the second half but the chances were becoming fewer and further between for the Dynamo and it looked like United were all set to take only their second point ever from city of Houston.

But in the 91st minute that all went out the window.

Taylor Kemp, staring for the injured Chris Korb, had a bead on a long ball and inexplicably tried to play it backwards and centrally to Steve Birnbaum. The pass caught the rookie off guard but he got back in time to shield off Bruin from the loose ball. However, as Birnbaum was tracking back, Hamid was coming off his line and he hesitated in the middle of penalty area to see what Birnbaum would do. That hesitation cost United as he inadvertently tripped Birnbaum and the loose ball spilled gratefully to Brian Ownby who centered to Bruin in front of the empty net.

United tried to muster and attack at the end but the mistake was too much to overcome. One would have to think that even the 96′-99′ United teams couldn’t manage to win a game in Houston. The season was as good a chance since Houston came into MLS in 2006 for United to get a win but the song remains the same in Houston.

United vs Houston: Mercifully, United’s season ends with 2-1 loss to Houston

When the final whistle blew in D.C. United’s season-ending 2-1 loss to the visiting Houston Dynamo this afternoon at RFK Stadium, you could sense the weight of the world lifting off the shoulders of head coach Ben Olsen.

“Absolutely.” was the answer Olsen gave to that particular question after the match. Olsen went on to bemoan the fact this his team yet again came up short after giving their opposition everything they had. “It’s been the story of the season,” Olsen blurted out matter of fact.

United’s loss set a number of league records for futility. United now owns the MLS record for the fewest wins (3), largest goal differential (-37) and lowest goals per game average (0.65 per game). Aside from that fact, United also ended the 2013 campaign with a 12-game winless streak.

United were under the gun from the first whistle and the Dynamo deservedly went ahead in the just 12th minute. James Riley, deputizing in central defense for the first time in his pro career, was simply overpowered by Giles Barnes and took the burly striker down for a penalty kick. Oscar Boniek Garcia powered his penalty kick just past the outsretched arms of Bill Hamid to give the visitor a 1-0 lead. A strong argument for the denying of a goal scoring opportunity presented itself to referee Armando Villareal but in only one of the few calls he got right all day, he let Riley off the hook. Interestingly enough, United was the only tema in MLS this season that did not draw a single red card throughout the season. In fact, Perry Kitchen’s accumulation of yellow cards last week was the only suspension of the year for United.

After the opening salvo, United fought their way back into the match in the 27th minute with arguably their most impressive offensive sequence of the season. United controlled the ball down the left flank through good combination work. Luis Silva received the ball at the top of the penalty area and hit Chris Pontius on an overlap. Pontius deeked his way to the end line and sent a beautiful left-footed cross to the far post where Kyle Porter easily outjumped Dynamo defender Cory Ashe and headed the ball down past goalkeeper Tally Hall to level the match at 1-1.

United should have taken the lead a few minutes later but the lack of finishing golden opportunities haunted them once again. Porter picked off a pass right at midfield and sped towards the Dynamo goal. His inch-perfect pass hit Conor Doyle in stride as he ghosted in all alone on goal. Instead of taking the guilt-edged chance, Doyle instead passed square to Dwayne De Rosario and United’s captain inexplicably tried to settle the pass instead of one-timing it into the open goal just five yards away. Perhaps kharma played a part in the play as De Ro was clearly offside on the play. But the lack of finishing the play seemed to sum up United’s season-long frustration from a goal-scoring standpoint, to wit their abysmal goal scoring rate of less than a goal a game.

As almost expected, the Dynamo got the game-winner three minutes later on yet another of United’s season-long bugaboos. The set piece. After Bill Hamid pulled off a stunning double-save on Will Bruin and Brad Davis. the subsequent corner kick was flicked into the far side netting by Giles Barnes for the last goal of the game.

United pushed forward and should have been awarded a penalty late in the half when Dynamo defender Cory Ashe batted a ball away over the end line for a corner. How Villareal and his assistant referee missed the clear touch sent Olsen and his staff into hysteria.

After the break United had another cause for a penalty shout when Chris Pontius was taken down by defender Eric Brunner in the penalty area. However Villareal waved the play off and United’s frustration continued to mount. United tried in vain to get the equalizer but a season’s worth of coming up short played it’s predictable hand and United is left wondering what went wrong during league play in 2013.

United now will turn their attention to what hopefully will be a very active offseason and an attempt to turn around what is arguably the worst single-season by a team in MLS history.

United vs Houston: Houston Hex continues as United crumble in 4-0 loss

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Coming off a week of unbridled optimism with the introduction of new owners Erik Thorir and Jason Levien into the United fold, you would think it would translate into an inspired performance in a place that has been a House of Horrors for D.C. United.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Bill Hamid’s red card take down on a breakaway by Macoumba Kandji in the 18th minute fueled another disastrous performance in Houston as the Black-and-Red fell 4-0 in Houston. The loss was their second this season to Houston at their brand new BBVA Compass Stadium. With the loss United fell into second place in the Eastern Conference and now will be without Hamid for their visit to Columbus next weekend.

United started the match well enough applying forward pressure from the opening whistle and had a number of opportunities to take the lead, the best being a semi-breakaway for Chris Pontius who’s effort was timid at best and an easy save for Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.

Then it happened.

In the 18th minute Robbie Russell was playing too high of a line and Kandji easily slipped past him down the left sideline. Hamid hesitated coming out to meet Kandji and by the time he did get to him, his scissor slide hacked Kandji down and gave referee Jason Anno no choice but to call for a penalty and send the young net minder off. Brad Davis stepped up and sent the ball past substitute goalkeeper Joe Willis for the 1-0 lead. Ironically, through 18 matches this season, United had not been called for a penalty or been given a red card at any point. It happened all in one play.

Houston continued to expose United with countless diagonal passes over the weak side of defense and it paid off in the 37th minute. Luis Camargo did well to fight off a Brandon McDonald challenge deep in the penalty area and waited long enough for Will Bruin to make a run towards the penalty spot. Dejan Jakovic was a bit lazy in recognizing the run and United were punished when Bruin scored his sixth goal against United in five matches for his career and a 2-0 lead at the half.

After the half United tried to hang on as best they can but a pair of goals from Oscar Boniek Garcia (62nd minute) and Brian Ching (89th minute penalty) put the final dagger into United and now they have to regroup and travel to Columbus to take on the Crew next Saturday evening.

United (10-6-3  33 pts) is now 0-7-1 lifetime in Houston and has been outscored 17-4 in those matches.



Maicon Santos

United vs Houston: United finally wins back-to-back matches with wild 3-2 win

Maicon Santos continues his hot start to the 2012 MLS season with a pair of goals to lead D.C. United to a wild 3-2 win last night over the Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium. The win finally puts to rest the 88-match streak of not winning back-t0-back games in league play that began in June of 2009. The win was the first over Houston in their past 6 meetings and their first since 2009 as well. Dwayne De Rosario also scored for United to keep the Black-and-Red on a seven-match unbeaten run.

United got on the board early in the 11th minute thanks in part to a big miscue from the Houston defense. Brandon McDonald launched a hopeful ball into the offensive third where Dynamo central defender Geoff Cameron badly mistimed his attempted headed clearance and Chris Pontius broke in on goal. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall came out to cut down the angle and Pontius easily skipped by him but had no angle to shoot on goal. Pontius steadied himself and curled in a cross that Santos headed into the empty net for the 1-0 lead.

The remainder of the half saw United with a few more dangerous chances at goal by Santos, Nick DeLeon and Pontius but nothing came of it for United.  United defender Emiliano Dudar pulled up with a hamstring injury just as the first half was coming to a close and was subbed out for Marcelo Saragosa. That forced a back line shuffle that saw Robbie Russell move centrally and Perry Kitchen move over to right back for the remainder of the match.

Right out the gate the visiting Dynamo took advantage of Dudar’s absence by pressuring from the jump. Their pressure resulted in a goal in the 50th minute through typical Dynamo measures. Left-back Jermaine Taylor was locked in a dual with United midfielder Danny Cruz along the left side line heading towards United’s goal when Cruz went to the ground and released Taylor to whip in a cross that was volleyed by Will Bruin past Joe Willis for a 1-1 tie.

Up to that point in the match, Willis had hardly touched the ball. United reacted quickly though and regained the lead just three minutes later. Dwayne De Rosario was on United’s left flank and whipped a ball curling towards the far post. At first it seemed that it might have grazed off the head of either Houston defender Bobby Boswell or Chris Pontius before it hit the far post and redirected into the goal. De Rosario was finally credited with the goal when replays showed that it did seem to avoid both players.

Dudar’s absence was magnified in the 59th minute when once again Houston drew level. However, it was United at fault on two fronts for the game-tying goal. Perry Kitchen was lax in moving a ball up field as Houston’s Corey Ashe deflected the pass back towards United’s goal. Will Bruin pounced on the loose ball and shot it on goal where Joe Willis seemed to have it covered. However, the wet conditions on the night perhaps played a factor as it squeezed out of his hands and into the goal. Incredibly, this was the 5th goal that Will Bruin has scored against United in only three matches. Bruin has eight total career goals in just his second year in MLS.

Once again though United answered the call and retook the lead for good in the 70th minute. Daniel Woolard got hold of a ball all alone on the left flank and whipped in a cross that Santos headed just over the fingertips of Tally Hall and off the underside of the crossbar for the match winner. United nearly scored a fourth goal on a fantastic counter attack run by De Rosario. De Ro took hold of a well-defended corner kick deep in United territory and sprinted towards Houston’s goal. On the way he maneuvered in and out of defensive pressure and was bearing down on goal. He passed to his left to a wide-open Woolard who returned the pass to De Ro who in turn flicked the ball over the approaching defender to himself only to see his volley smothered by Hall at the last second. Had the goal been scored, it would have gone down in team and league annals as one of the best goals ever scored at RFK Stadium.

As it happened, United played out the final twenty minutes without giving up a dangerous opportunity for Houston to draw and the Black-and-Red were left celebrating back-t0-back wins for the first time in nearly three calendar years.

United must now turn their attention to a very difficult three-game road stretch which begins at red hot San Jose on Wednesday night. After that is a midday match up with bottom of MLS Toronto FC before ending the trip in Houston in two weeks to open their brand new stadium. United will not return to RFK until Wednesday, May 16th.




United defense breaks down, again.. Houston rolls to easy 4-1 win

Houston rookie forward Will Bruin scored the first three goals for the Dynamo tonight and Cam Weaver capped off an embarrassing defensive performance by D.C. United with the last goal in their 4-1 thrashing of the Black-and-Red. United has now lost two MLS matches in a row by a combined 8-1 scoreline and if you add Wednesday night’s dismal 3-2 loss to the New England Revolution in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match, United has lost three straight games and clearly lost their way defensively.

No matter what combination of players that head coach Ben Olsen trots out onto the pitch, they seem to turn their duties into a comedy of errors. Poor positioning, critical giveaways and a shocking lack of concentration has turned a once promising season into a nightmare for United. United has now allowed 16 goals in their 7 league matches including 10 goals allowed in their 4 road matches to date (1 win and 3 losses). Tonight’s Keystone Cops routine began in the 4th minute when Dax McCarty’s unnecessary turnover spurred a quick Houston counter. Brad Davis slotted a pass to Will Bruin who slipped the ball past Bill Hamid to the near post for a surprise 1-0 lead.

United battled back and drew the match level in the 39th minute when Marc Burch’s free kick went under the Houston wall and past Tally Hall. United had done precious little up to that point with only a Chris Pontius header bothering Hall and questionable non-call on what looked to be a clear foul in the box on Pontius in the 31st minute. However, United’s joy in tying the match only lasted two minutes when Bruin struck again. Brad Davis got in behind right back Zed Jayner and hit one of his textbook perfect crosses to the back post where United rookie defender Perry Kitchen seemed to lose his way as the burly Ohio State forward raced inside of the confused Kitchen and hammered home a header from 6 yards to give the Dynamo a 2-1 lead.

After halftime United actually took the game to the Dynamo but once again poor defending doomed them. A free kick was awarded to the Dynamo and the left-footed out swinger from Davis met the forehead of Bruin inside the 6 yard box again and Hamid had no chance and Bruin had a natural hat trick. Bruin, who was being eyeballed buy United before the draft, certainly made United regret not picking him over the much more vaunted Perry Kitchen. While Kitchen will no doubt become a much better player in time, Bruin won this match up with relative ease.

United’s evening was finally extinguished with a piece of laughable defending. In perhaps the single worst piece of defending in United’s 15 years of playing in MLS, a throw-in from past the midfield stripe caught United’s back line asleep and Cam Weaver strode in on goal all alone and roofed a shot past a clearly flabbergasted Bill Hamid for the final scoreline of 4-1.

Confidence is very low with the Black-and-Red at the moment but they do have a 3-game home stand to try and right the ship. Up next for United is a Wednesday night match against the Seattle Sounders, who by the way have never lost in 3 meetings at RFK.

Isn’t this season turning out well?