Nick De Leon

United and Sounders battle to a 0-0 draw

D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders battled to a hard-fought 0-0 draw tonight at RFK Stadium in front of 15, 651 fans. United’s only real chance at goal came in the 23rd minute thanks to some great work from in-form Nick DeLeon. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders battled to a hard-fought 0-0 draw tonight at RFK Stadium in front of 15, 651 fans. United now has a three game unbeaten streak after dropping the first two matches to start the season. Joe Willis recorded his second shutout of the season and saved the match with a diving save of an Osvaldo Alonzo  blast in stoppage time only to see the rebound from former United player Marc Burch rocket off the crossbar to everyone’s relief at RFK, including head coach Ben Olsen who jokingly muttered, “That son of a bitch”, after the match when he realized it was the much scrutinized left-back who nearly laid a second devastating injury-time loss on United this season (Sporting Kansas City scored in stoppage time of the season opener).

United’s defense, much maligned from last season, came out with it’s third consecutive solid effort limiting the visitors to only two shots on goal through the rough and tumble match. Both sides were very physical, especially in the opening forty-five minutes with United being very fortunate not to have forward Maicon Santos sent off. After a deserved yellow card tackle in the 12th minute, Santos was nearly sent off late in the first half if not for the level-headed thinking of referee Edwin Jurasevic. Santos had made a seemingly legal tackle on Sounder forward Fredy Montero but was whistled for the foul. The Brazilian grabbed the ball and slammed it down right in front of the referee who, to his credit, realized the situation and probably didn’t want to send a player off in this game due to an fleeting act of petulance.

United’s only real chance at goal came in the 23rd minute thanks to some great work from in-form Nick DeLeon. The winger from Louisville blazed past Seattle defender Zach Scott and sent in a low hard cross that met the sliding left foot of Hamdi Salihi. The Albanian’s shot slammed off the convergence of the near side crossbar and post much to the relief of the Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning who would have had no time to even get his hands up had the shot been on target.

After the break, the Black-and-Red picked up the tempo and had the Western visitors on their heels for most of the second half. United came close on several occasions, the best being rookie Nick DeLeon’s 22-yard blast in the 68th minute forcing an awkward punch-out save from Gspurning.  Second-half substitute Chris Pontius should have given United the lead just five minutes later when sent in by Santos on a lovely back heel pass. Pontius glided into the box and his shot from the left side of the goal area skittered harmlessly through the goal mouth and wide of the far post. United’s last effort to grab a game-winner came from a Dwayne De Rosario free kick in the 88th minute but the effort was just over the bar.

That last opportunity set up a rare chance by the Sounders in the 3rd minute of stoppage time that would have stolen three points had it come to fruition. Alonso got a hold of a ball out in front of the penalty area and sidestepped a United defender before unleashing a wicked 24-yard shot headed for the far side netting. Joe Willis extended fully to his right and parried the shot  into the path of onrushing Seattle defender Marc Burch. Burch’s reaction header rocketed off the crossbar and was eventually cleared by the United defense and nearly gave Burch a storybook return to the Nation’s Capitol.  Burch subbed into the match in the last five minutes and was met with a full-throated booing from the RFK faithful upon his entrance into the match. It was Burch during the course of the week who had a lot to say about why he was no longer with United and it would have been very cruel for United had that goal gone in.

United Notes

  • Brandon McDonald was suspended for this match during the week after a weekly video evidence hearing brought about his one-game ban for his tackle on Blas Perez last week versus FC Dallas
  • Andy Najar did not make the 18-man roster due to his midweek illness and him playing 5 matches in 11 days with the Honduran U-23 team that did qualify for the London Olympics later this summer
  • While United got their second shutout of the season, they have failed to score in 3 of the 5 matches played so far this season. It could be argued that United has had the toughest 5-game stretch to open the season in MLS
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