Houston hex is kaput as United take 3-1 win in Texas

D.C. United all but assured their Eastern Conference title with their first-ever win in Houston, 3-1 this afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Taylor Kemp’s first half rocket gave United it’s first-ever lead in the state of Texas against the Dynamo and the Black-and-Red also added goals from Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson in the second half to finally end an 8-year drought in Houston.

With the win, United only needs a draw themselves in their two remaining matches (at home vs Chicago and away to Montreal) or have second-place teams Sporting Kansas City or New England not win either or their two remaining matches to complete a highly unlikely worst-to-first situation.

Although the result was fantastic for United some bad news did come their way when forward Luis Silva, arguably United’s most effective player this season, appeared to have pulled a hamstring just minutes after the match was restarted after a first-half weather delay that lasted over an hour. Eddie Johnson subbed in for Silva and then played a major role in their historic win.

After the match was stopped in the 23rd minute due to a lightning thunderstorm, United pressed the issue and took the lead in the 41st minute. Fabian Espindola split the Houston defense and found Chris Pontius bearing down on goal. Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric’s sliding save kept Pontius off the score sheet but the rebound came to Kemp. The second-year defender from the University of Maryland took a steadying touch and unleashed an angled left-footed rocket from 18 yards through a thicket of Dynamo players and ripped the far side netting for his first-ever goal in MLS.

United continued to push forward and doubled their lead in lightning fashion in the 64th minute. United was defending a Houston free kick in their defensive half and before you could look up, United had taken a 2-0 lead. Brad Davis’ free kick flicked off of Espindola and redirected into the penalty area. Sean Franklin quickly cleared the ball up field to Espindola who was in acres of empty space. United’s talisman took off unopposed towards the Dynamo goal and scooped his shot over the hard-charging Deric just as Davis was trying to arrive on the scene. The ball easily slipped into the goal for Espindola’s tenth goal on the season to goal along with his nine assists.

However, after United had multiple chances to extend the lead to 3-0, Houston got back into the game in the 83rd minute when they were awarded a penalty when Franklin had taken down Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark. Englishman Giles Barnes stepped up and sent Bill Hamid the wrong way to cut the lead in half with just about seven minutes left in the match.

With nerves jangling knowing United’s putrid history in Houston (0-11-1 all time in all competitions heading into the match), the Black-and-Red have done what they’ve done virtually all season long – bounce back in a big way. With Houston pushing numbers forward, United caught the home side uneven on numbers as David Estrada starting the game-clinching sequence in the 87th minute. The substitute’s cross field pass from the left flank hit Franklin perfectly in stride as he arrived in the penalty area. Immediately Franklin settled the pass and pushed a delicate pass to Johnson at the penalty spot. The much-maligned striker took a touch and calmly slotted the ball past Deric to give United’s arguably it’s most important goal of the season. The goal was Johnson’s sixth of the season.

United fought off repeated challenges from the pesky Dynamo to scrape back into the game and salted it away officially when Hamid denied Clark from 20 yards out and at that point United finally had beaten the Houston Dynamo in Houston.

United will now turn their attention to their last home game of the season on Saturday night at RFK against the Chicago Fire, again needing only a draw to secure home-field advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs, and more importantly a spot into the 2015-2016 version of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage next summer.

United rallies from early deficit to 3-3 draw in Chicago

For the first half hour of tonight’s match between D.C. United and the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, it wasn’t looking too good for road-weary United.

Down 2-0 to a desperate squad on a terribly re-sodded pitch, you would have given the Black-and-Red the proverbial pass considering the team was wrapping up an 8 matches out of 11 stretch on the road, including a midweek match in Jamaica.

This team however are making believers of all United fans as they rallied to a 3-3 draw and pushed their precious lead at the top of the Eastern Conference standings to three points over idle Sporting Kansas City. With United already clinching the season series over SKC (with a head-to-head match still remaining in October at RFK), the three point cushion keeps them in first place even through next weekend when they welcome the Philadelphia Union to town after their lengthy road sojourn.

Luis Silva led the comeback with a pair of goals including a dead-cinch lock for Goal of the Week with a wicked free kick stunner in the 54th minute to level the match after United had fallen behind so early. Silva’s penalty kick conversion in the 39th minute had turned around a performance that was less then stellar until that goal. Silva leads United now with 10 goals on the season, all in the last 15 matches United has played.

United had designs on stealing all three points when Perry Kitchen finished off a bizarre play in the 58th minute to give United a 3-2 lead. Taylor Kemp’s free kick was flicked on in the area by Bobby Boswell and found Kitchen in a good spot with Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson rushing out to stop him. Kitchen got a touch to the ball to poke it past Johnson as it rolled towards the empty net. Fire defender Gonzalo Segares made a lunging attempt to clear it just as it crossed over the line. Boswell was on hand however to slam the clearance into the net to remove all doubt on the play. Once the league reviews the play, no doubt Kitchen will be rewarded with his 5th goal of the season.

However, as has been the case on occasion this season, United gave up the equalizer in the 78th minute when Matt Watson’s shot from 23 yards took a fatal deflection off of defender Steve Birnbaum and flew past the helpless Bill Hamid in goal.

All of the drama wouldn’t have been necessary had United not slept-walked through the games initial start. Chicago took the lead in the 16th minute when Quincy Amerikwa took advantage of a failed clearance from Taylor Kemp and curled a left-footed shot past Hamid for the 1-0 lead. In the 32nd minute the Fire doubled their advantage when Kitchen was judged to have tripped Amerikwa in the box. Jeff Larentowicz stepped up and blasted his shot past Hamid to give the home side the 2-0 lead.

With Chicago seemingly in control of the match, United received the lifeline they were looking for when Birnbaum was shoved over in the penalty area in the 38th minute by Fire defender Baky Soumare. Silva stepped up and strangely seemed to shoot right at Johnson as he dove to his right but the burly goalkeeper couldn’t keep the full force of the shot out and United’s comeback had it’s start.

With United at the tail end of their most devastating crunch of matches all season (7 out of 9 league matches on the road in addition to the midweek trip to face Waterhouse FC in Jamaica), Ben Olsen’s squad was missing their top player in Fabian Espindola to a red card controversially given ten days ago in a last-second 1-0 loss in New York as well as Eddie Johnson for a third consecutive league match with concussion symptoms although he did return to training late in the week.

This gave young Michael Seaton his first start in MLS up top with Silva and it also saw the MLS debut of Ghanaian International Samuel Inkoom on the right side of the midfield. Seaton was a non-factor until the last minute of stoppage time in the first half when he got a flick to well struck free kick from Silva that forced a diving fumbling save from Johnson to keep Chicago ahead 2-1 at the break.

After the break Olsen subbed in both Chris Pontius and Chris Korb into the lineup and brought off the two debutants and it paid immediate dividends on both ends of the field. Pontius’ pass set up Silva with a chance in the area but his shot was well defended by Fire defender Lovel Palmer who was throwing his body all over the field.

Korb helped to stabilize what had been a shaky first half performance from United’s usually staunch defense. Even though United were missing quite a few offensive weapons, their defense for the most part had been picking the team up through the past two league matches which saw United shutout in both of those matches in Vancouver and New York.

With the big road point, United now will play three of their remaining five matches at the friendly confines of RFK Stadium to close out the season. Before that however is a tricky midweek home match against Tauro FC in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night. All United needs is a draw against the winless side to advance to the knockout stages of the competition beginning next February. Conventional wisdom will have Olsen playing mostly a reserve side to help rest for their big match next Saturday afternoon when the welcome the Union to town. That match will be live on the NBCSports Network starting at 3:30 pm EST.


United vaults to first place after stunning 3-0 win in Kansas City

For at least another 21 hours or so, one team sits alone at the top of MLS.

D.C. United.

With tons of talk in and around the league this week about Supporters Shield contenders, much has been made of surging teams FC Dallas and RSL, who are tied with the Seattle Sounders at 42 points atop the Western Conference while Sporting Kansas City, also on 42 points, have been leaders in the East for most of the season.

Very little thought has been afforded to D.C. United, aside from the predictable comments from all pundits that the team has made an incredible turnaround from a history making awful 2013 campaign.

Perhaps now people will sit up and notice the Black-and-Red. United went into Sporting Park and put a 3-0 beat down on SKC tonight to jump into first place in the East behind three goals in a seven-minute onslaught from Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe and Perry Kitchen.

The win for United (13-7-4, 43 points) was their first ever at Sporting Park in five attempts and their first against Sporting on the road since 2007. Coming off back-to-back drubbings on the road, one would hardly have expected United to put forth such an effort, particularly during the busiest stretch of the season.

United was coming off a 1-0 home win in their CONCACAF Champions League opener on Wednesday night while Sporting struggled to a 1-1 draw away in Nicaragua on Tuesday, a game in which Sporting head coach Peter Vermes called on eight of his normal starters while Ben Olsen rolled out a reserve-laden squad.

The difference in philosophies seemed to pay a huge dividend for United as they seemed the more energetic side for most of the evening. United was on the back foot for first twenty minutes or so but took the lead against the run of play in the 24th minute.

Luis Silva played a seemingly harmless ball to Espindola in the corner where he juked Aurelien Collin and made his way to the top corner of the penalty area. Using his weaker right foot, Espindola’s worm burner skipped along the grass and curled it’s way into the far side of the goal to give United the 1-0 lead. Espindola’s goal was his team-leading 9th of the season and gave tallies in two straight league games.

Just four minutes later, United would double their lead when Chris Rolfe beat Sporting’s high defensive line and went in alone and just got his shot past Sporting goalkeeper John Kempin. For Rolfe it was his sixth goal of the year, also scoring in back-to-back games, and it was Silva’s second assist of the night.

United ended all drama on the night when Perry Kitchen wrapped up the scoring just three minutes later. Again United victimized Sporting’s high line as Kitchen ghosted in behind Collin. As Collin caught up to Kitchen, the young midfielder cut back expertly on Collin and rifled his shot just inside the near post for an incredible 3-0 lead.

United was now tasked with simply seeing the remainder of the match out with staunch defending and they did just that. As a matter of fact United had numerous opportunities to extend the lead only to see the woodwork deny Nick DeLeon and substitute David Estrada.

Sporting created only a few chances throughout the match, the best coming off the foot of ex-Maryland and U.S. World Cup veteran Graham Zusi’s shot hitting the crossbar midway through the second half. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid picked up his sixth shutout of the season and second against Sporting this season.

United’s brutal schedule continues when they travel to California to play the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night at 10:30 pm EST. The match will be shown live on Comcast SportsNet.

United listless in 1-0 loss to Toronto FC

Jermain Defoe’s third goal in only his second start for Toronto FC was just enough in their 1-0 win over D.C. United today at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada.

United, who set records for futility in scoring goals in last seasons nightmare campaign, was shut out for the second time in as many games and could only bother to muster one shot on goal for the second consecutive match. Head coach Ben Olsen has preached patience with his rebuilt squad but that plea is already beginning to wear a bit thin..

United improved their performance overall from their opening match against Columbus but it was hard not to improve from that quite frankly. United stood toe-to-toe with the likewise rebuilt TFC and could have been behind if not for the heroics of Bill Hamid in goal. Hamid made three separate stunning saves on Defoe in the first forty five minutes but was undone by a poor clearance in the 60th minute.

Michael Bradley, one of the other heralded DP signings in TFC’s off-season, sent a beautiful pass over the United defense to Toronto’s third DP in Gilberto. The Brazilian took one touch and forced a great save again from Hamid. Bobby Boswell cleaned up the rebound but his clearing attempt went straight into the path of Defoe and the Englishmen scored between the legs of Sean Franklin to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

After the goal United finally started to put some passes together to attempt to breach Toronto’s defense but the shoddy condition of the field and quite honestly the poor decision making by a number of United players contributed to their listless performance as they hardly put forth any threatening opportunities.

It’s back to the drawing board for Olsen and his team as they welcome in the Chicago Fire next Saturday afternoon at 4:30pm. The match will be shown live on the NBCSports Network.


United vs Chicago: Defensive lapses costly once again in 4-1 loss in Chicago

While the offense has been the major culprit for D.C. United’s record setting futility this season in MLS, on occasion United’s defense is just as ineffective. The Chicago Fire scored twice in the first eleven minutes of the match and rolled to an easy 4-1 win over United tonight at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois

Chris Rolfe scored twice and bona fide United killer Joel Lindpere added a goal and two assists as the home side easily pushed aside an uninterested United team. United leads MLS, not surprisingly, in goals allowed in the first fifteen minutes of matches. They now have conceded eight times in that time span this season and with the team struggling just to put shots near the oppositions net, the task of scoring goals to get back into matches seems a mere impossibility.

Luis Silva’s 58th minute goal for United in his debut with the Black-and-Red was the lone bright spot on an otherwise forgetful evening. United, coming off a two-week break from league play, was not in the right frame of mind defensively and fell behind after just 90 seconds had elapsed. Lindpere was allowed a lot of time on the left flank and his pinpoint cross sailed over the head of Daniel Woolard and onto the foot of Rolfe. The striker saw United goalkeeper Joe Willis inexplicably vacating his net and his one-time touch fell neatly into the open goal.

Chicago doubled United’s misery in the 11th minute when Woolard was out run to a ball by Jeff Larentowicz deep in United territory. That is not a misprint, yes, Jeff Larentowicz. The midfielder sent a ball back through the penalty area where Lindpere took one touch past Chris Korb and ripped a left-footed blast past Willis.

United continued to misfire offensively as the team had no cohesion or confidence. The game was put to rest in stoppage time in the first half when Ethan White was caught playing too high a line at midfield and Rolfe ghosted in behind him and beat Willis to send United to the locker room down 3-0.

While United has struggled all season long to score goals, they have been mostly competitive defensively but tonight was just one of those nights. In the 56th minute Woolard was the guilty party once again as he was easily beaten for pace by Quincy Amerikwa. The pacy forward seemed to go down rather easily and after a few moments of indecision, a penalty was awarded to the Fire. Mike Magee converted easily to put the home side up 4-0.

United’s lone peace of mind came just two minutes later when debutant Luis Silva found himself with acres of space 22-yards from goal. The lanky forward curled a beautiful shot past the Chicago goalkeeper for the final tally of the match.

United will now have to turn their attention to their home matchup next weekend against the New England Revolution. The Revs scored twice in stoppage time to earn a big 2-0 road win in Columbus this evening. Game time is 7pm next Saturday night at RFK Stadium.

United Notes

  • Chris Pontius was scratched from the lineup with a hamstring twinge.
  • Dwayne De Rosario and Lionard Pajoy both stayed home in D.C. and did not make the trip to Chicago

United vs Colorado: United earn tough road point in 0-0 draw in Mile High City

Once again D.C. United offered very little offensively in the final third of the field but desperate defending and solid goalkeeping from Joe Willis earned the Black-and-Red a solid road point in their 0-0 draw last night against the home side Colorado Rapids.

United was shut out for the 8th time in 9 road matches so far this season and the 12th time overall through 19 matches this season.

Most of Colorado’s chances on the evening had a lot to do with United’s shaky performance in trying to pass out of trouble in the defense third of the field. Countless errors led to many chances, most coming from the fleet feet of Jamaican forward DaShorn Brown. The speedy rookie had an early chance tipped over the bar by Willis inside the first ten minutes of the match. Brown was easily the most dangerous player on the field and United struggled to keep up with him. United midfielder Sainey Nyassi, no slouch in the speed department himself, struggled most of the night just to keep up with Brown.

United continued theirs season-long struggle in front of goal with only a 50-yard attempted chip of the goalkeeper by Carlos Ruiz and a Drew Moor headed clearance off the goal line being United’s only threats during the first half. While the tempo of the game overall improved in the second half for both sides, the chances were mainly coming from the home side. Chris Pontius dragged a left-footed shot well wide of the goal in the 48th minute and Ruiz’ effort midway through the second half was easily handled by Colorado keeper Clint Irwin. That was the extent of United’s offense on the evening and they were left defending for the remainder of the match.

Late in the match Joe Willis made a number of key saves from close range as many of the Rapids’ chances were created either through mistakes by United’s young back line or just plain old bad bounces that seemed to land on the feet of most Rapid attackers. Be that as it may, Willis stoned all of the chances and earned his first shutout of the season for United.

United’s next league game won’t be for another 13 days when they travel to Chicago to face the Fire on Saturday, July 20th. In the meantime, United will host Mexican icons Chivas De Guadalajara in an international friendly on Friday night at RFK Stadium. The match will be televised on ESPN2 starting at 8pm EST

United Notes

  • Taylor Kemp made his first start for United at left back in league play and was most impressive. In particular were the handful of crosses that just missed forwards Ruiz and Chris Pontius in the box
  • Dwayne De Rosario and Nick DeLeon both stayed in Washington as expected considering the two-week layoff ahead of their next league match


United vs Seattle: Depleted United fall to Sounders 2-0

Obafemi Martins scored both goals tonight as the Seattle Sounders took care of business in their 2-0 win over D.C. United at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington.

Once again United were powerless on offense getting shut out for the 11th time in 18th matches this season and the 7th time in 8 road matches. Chris Pontius seemed to be the only player capable of generating any offense by forcing a pair of saves from Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning late in the second half but the damage was already done for the Black-and-Red. With four starters out of the lineup due to injury, fatigue and International call ups, United were forced to put out a watered down version of their already timid lineup and Seattle wasted no time taking advantage

In the 20th minute, Sounders midfielder Brad Evans collected a ball at midfield and spotted a run straight at goal by Martins. United were playing a very high line defensively and the speedy Designated Player made United pay with his team-leading fifth goal of the season. United seemed to equalize just three minutes later but a very close offside call on Lionard Pajoy negated his classy finish and United were down 1-0 at the half once again.

In the second half United seemed the side more likely to score as they were pushing the attack to the Sounders. However, an endless string of poor decisions from United’s frustrated attackers killed nearly every possible opportunity to equalize. The reasons were many and varied tonight for United’s futility in attack. Numerous offside calls, poor crosses and bad decisions on simple passes out of pressure were once again the death knell for United.

Just when it seemed that United might squeak out a deserved equalizer, that pesky defensive blunder that has been omnipresent all season long cropped up in stoppage time. James Riley did his duty and helped out Ethan White in closing down a pass for Martins heading towards goal. However, instead of clearing the ball out of danger on his first touch, Riley inexplicably tried to push the ball past Martins but only managed to push the ball right into his path and the Nigerian striker easily beat Joe Willis from eight yards out for the final nail in United’s coffin.

A very tired and broken United will now travel to Colorado to play the Rapids on Sunday night ending a stretch of matches that has seen United play 5 matches in 16 days. After that match, United will be off for nearly two weeks before resuming league play in Chicago on July 20th.

United vs Red Bull: Hamid, crossbar crucial in helping United escape with 0-0 draw in New Jersey

D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid came up with a number of tremendous saves to help United earn a point in a 0-0 draw this afternoon against rivals New York Red Bull. United (1-1-1  4 points) had to scramble defensively at times and were on the back foot for the majority of the match against Red Bull (0-1-2  2 points) in their home opener at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. United were also beneficiaries of some help from the crossbar as Red Bull forward Fabian Espindola twice was denied by the woodwork.

United again struggled to put together any semblance of attack and only had a handful of chances at goal, the best being Chris Pontius’ 60th minute bid that was well saved by Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles. Captain Dwayne De Rosario made his season debut after serving a two-game ban for a preseason head-butting incident but was rendered ineffective by Red Bull’s constant pressure. United did manage to go t0e-to-toe with Red Bull for the first forty-five minutes but after the break it was all Red Bull.

Hamid came up with a brilliant save on a Tim Cahill effort deep into the box and then just a few seconds later defender Chris Korb saved a goal himself by beating Thierry Henry to the back post and clearing a dangerous chance. Hamid however saved his best for last when he swiped a goal bound ball out of harms way in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the match. Replays showed no conclusive evidence that it crossed the line as the ball bounded off the chest of former United midfielder Brandon Barklage. Barklage, who scored twice  in a 3-2 win against United in their only regular season meeting last season at Red Bull Arena, chested the ball towards goal and Hamid dove to his right to swat the ball out of danger.

Hamid has now gotten shutouts in his last two matches but the offense still remains a big question mark after only scoring once in three matches.

United will now turn their attention to a home match next Saturday evening against the Columbus Crew. United defender Dejan Jakovic (Canada) and midfielder Marcos Sanchez (Panama) will not be available for the Black-and-Red against the Crew as they will be on international duty.

DC Out of Miracles in Houston Loss

Just when it looked like DC’s run of improbable results was going to continue after snatching the first goal in the first match of the Eastern Conference Finals in Houston, United collapsed in the second half allowing Houston to roar back and win the match by a devastating 3-1 score-line leaving DC with a mountain to climb in the second leg in RFK next Sunday.

DC United was behind the eight ball right from the start of the match as captain Chris Pontius suffered a groin injury and was forced to come out in the 12th minute. Already without defending MVP Dwayne De Rosario, former rookie of the year, Andy Najar as well as starting keeper Bill Hamid both out through suspension, losing Pontius seemed to be the death knell for United.

However, as they have been doing for months, United rose above such adversity again and grabbed what should have been a crucial goal to take the lead in this away leg of the championship series.

In the 27th minute, DC’s rookie winger, Nick DeLeon collected a bad give-away by Houston and quickly released forward Lionard Pajoy deep down the left side behind Houston’s defense. Angling in toward goal, Pajoy cracked a shot past Dynamo keeper Tally Hall that struck the far post and rebounded directly to DeLeon following up the play. The rookie’s first time shot might have been slightly wide of goal, but it deflected off Houston center back Andrew Hainault and into the back of net to give United the lead.

DC continued to dominate the chances created in an exciting match and should have extended the lead just before halftime if not for an incredibly bad call by referee Ricardo Salazar that literally changed the course of the match.

United’s Raphael Augusto in his MLS debut after coming on for the injured Marcelo Saragosa minutes earlier, flipped a clever ball over Hainault and bolted in on goal. Hainault recovered well, but clearly hauled down Augusto to prevent a goal scoring opportunity. Salazar refused to even call a foul, much less make the obvious call to send Hainault to the showers.

If Houston heads into the locker-room at the half down a goal and down a man, it’s extremely unlikely they come back to score three in the second to take control of the series. Especially galling is Hainault scored the tying goal for Houston right after halftime and the writing was on the wall for another collapse in Houston, a place where they have never won since the Dynamo entered the league in 2006.

In the 51st minute, DC’s Brandon McDonald gifted Houston a free kick that they took quickly and caught United’s defense inexcusably unprepared, especially since it was the second time Houston had taken a quick free kick. This time it was a pass down the left side of the box to a wide open Oscar Boniek Garcia and the Honduran winger slid the ball across the face of the goal through traffic for Hainault to stuff into the open net and tie the match at 1 all.

DC had a chance to take the lead again in the 66th when DeLeon picked out Robbie Russell own the right side and he cleverly rounded Houston’s Mac Kandji and set up Pajoy for a clear shot on goal that was headed off the goal line by Bobby Boswell.

With that miss, United’s miracle run of results came to a resounding end as Houston roared back right away with the game winning goal in the 68th minute. Houston sub Giles Barnes rounded Dejan Jackovic along the end-line and whipped a low cross that DC keeper Joe Willis slapped away at the near post, but the ball unfortunately fell right to United killer Will Bruin who scuffed it into the net for a 2-1 lead for Houston.

After Willis had made a brilliant save on Houston right back Koffie Sarkodie in the 77th, Houston continued to pressure and United’s defense cracked again. A ruefully poor clear by United’s Augusto fell to Houston’s Luiz Camargo and he sent Sarkodie through again on goal. This time Willis had no chance as Sarkodie buried it far post to seal United’s fate.

United now needs to overcome a two goal deficit in the second leg at RFK to have a chance to win the Eastern Conference Championship and moving on to the MLS Cup. However, should they win by enough and manage to oust the defending Conference Champion Dynamo they will host the MLS Cup as they are the highest seed left in the playoffs.

An appearance by DeRo in the second leg seems to be a distinct possibility and United has been dynamic at home this season, unbeaten in 16 games since the season opener including 7 two or more goal victories and a 3-2 win over Houston as well.

United’s goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad was ejected at halftime presumably for verbal abuse of Salazar and will miss the second match. United was forced into three injury subs in the match and it is unclear whether Pontius, Marcelo Saragosa, or McDonald will be available for the second leg. Andy Najar will remain out serving the last game of his suspension, but Bill Hamid will be available.