April 26, 2015

D.C. United Game 6 Recap: Chris Rolfe scores spectacular free kick in Houston Dynamo tie

D.C. United played out a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo in front of 13,047 fans at RFK Stadium in their latest MLS match, with the hosts unable to capitalise on Chris Rolfe’s spectacular free kick in the first half to put them in the lead.

It was a night of some historical significance for United, who celebrated their 300th regular season MLS game at RFK Stadium, and with a win the Black-and-Red would have equalled their club record for the most points through six games in their history.

Rolfe’s free kick got the hosts off to the best possible start, as Jairo Arrieta showed some trickery on the edge of the penalty area and was brought down by a Dynamo defender. Rolfe stepped up and buried the resulting free kick into the top corner for his first goal of the season, with Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric able to get a fingertip on the ball, but it was not quite enough to prevent it.

However, the away side became more and more attacking as the game grew on and were rewarded for their endeavors with an equalizer midway through the second half. Substitute Will Bruin saw an effort saved brilliantly at point-blank range by Andrew Dykstra, deputising in United’s goal for Bill Hamid, but Ricardo Clark was on hand to bury the rebound and level the scores.

The draw was probably the right result in an even game on a humid evening in the nation’s capital, with both sides enjoying plenty of possession and chances but neither able to take advantage.

In the first half, the Dynamo had the better of the early chances as both Giles Barnes and Clark forced saves from Dykstra, with United unable to make any of their possession pay in the early stages. However, the hosts grew into the period as time went on, and had some good moments before the break.

Their best spells came courtesy of Chris Pontius and Michael Farfan, who both looked lively in attack and keen to run at the Houston defense. Pontius almost scored a spectacular diving header from a Taylor Kemp corner, while Farfan continued to look dangerous on the right and almost forged a chance for himself through sheer strength of will in the penalty area only to see it be cleared.

The visitors continued to have good moments, and almost took the lead on the stroke of halftime as Kofi Sarkodie’s low cross almost found Clark’s foot as he slid in but just evaded the midfielder. United were by far the happier of the two teams as they headed for the break, and in the second half Houston managed to have some more sustained spells of pressure.

In the second period, it was the home side who had the best early opportunity as Perry Kitchen, fresh off his second appearance for the United States Men’s National Team in their 2-0 win over Mexico, saw a first-time shot from outside the penalty area be tipped wide by Deric.

That seemed to sting the visitors back into life, and they came agonisingly close to an equalizer as Nathan Sturgis had a first-time shot of his own cannon back off the post with Dykstra beaten. Just five minutes later, Clark finally found the net and drew the sides level once more.

The hosts brought on both Nick DeLeon and Luis Silva as their recoveries from injuries gather pace, and DeLeon in particular looked impressive as he drifted relatively freely from his preferred right-wing position into the middle. He had a great opportunity for D.C. with just 14 minutes left on the clock with a flying volley from a Kemp cross, but it sailed over the bar as DeLeon was unable to control his shot.

United continued to push forward in the closing minutes in search of yet another late goal — a hallmark of their 2015 season thus far — and thought they had one as Bobby Boswell headed over from a corner on the stroke of 90 minutes. However, it was not to be as both sides were forced to settle for a point.

Goals
DCU — Chris Rolfe 36’
HOU — Ricardo Clark 65’

Disciplinary
HOU — Ricardo Clark (caution, foul, 9’)
DCU — Perry Kitchen (caution, foul, 50’)

Attendance: 13,047

D.C. United XI: Dykstra; Franklin, Boswell, Opare, Kemp; Farfan (Silva 71’), Kitchen, Arnaud, Rolfe (Aguilar 80’); Arrieta (DeLeon 58’), Pontius.
Subs not used: Worra, Korb, Jeffrey, Doyle.

Houston Dynamo XI: Deric; Sarkodie, Taylor, Rodriguez, Beasley; Lopez (Lovejoy 80’), Garrido (Bruin HT, Hoffman 90’+2’), Sturgis, Clark, Davis; Barnes.
Subs not used: Willis, Horst, Miranda, Alex.

D.C. United Game 5 Recap: New York Red Bulls take 2-2 tie after Hamid error

A poor error from goalkeeper Bill Hamid in the last minute of the game handed the New York Red Bulls a point at RFK Stadium as they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with D.C. United.

Sacha Kljestan hit a free kick into the box that Hamid could not palm away to safety, as he instead deflected it into the path of Lloyd Sam, who was following up and made no mistake from close range. It was a disappointing end for United’s goalkeeper, who had been arguably his team’s biggest star so far this season.

The hosts were 2-0 up with just over 20 minutes to go thanks to a goal in each half from Perry Kitchen. His first was a header in the 26th minute from a corner by Taylor Kemp, while his second was a low shot from outside the area that was set up by Chris Rolfe, who pushed forward well on the left.

However, things began to unravel for United just a minute after Kitchen’s second, as Felipe’s corner was headed home by defender Damien Perrinelle, with Sam’s equalizer following just 22 minutes later as the clock wound down.

It was a disappointing end for the D.C. midfielder in particular, who looked in very good form both offensively and defensively, having started the season in slightly poor form. He began the game with some physical play along with the likes of Davy Arnaud and Sean Franklin, who all clearly came into the game keen to make a statement against United’s biggest rivals.

The first half was an even affair, as both sides were keen to come forward and attack from the outset. Bradley Wright-Phillips looked lively up front for the Red Bulls and almost forced Kofi Opare to deflect the ball into his own net, but the replacement for Steven Birnbaum was relieved to see it go just past the post with Hamid beaten.

At the other end, Rolfe had a good chance as he was let in behind by a defensive lapse, but Luis Robles managed to deflect his shot behind and keep the game scoreless. Jairo Arrieta also had an opportunity of his own at the end of the first half after Kitchen had given the home side the lead, but his first-time shot from a Franklin cross was skewed well wide.

At halftime, D.C. United would have been the happier of the two teams by far with a 1-0 lead, and in the second period the game continued to be end to end as the Red Bulls pushed for an equalizer and the hosts looked to find another goal.

After Kitchen’s second and Perrinelle pulled one back for New York, the away side tried to push forward but saw Rolfe and Arrieta both fail to take advantage of further chances that could have put the game away for D.C.

Luis Silva then almost repeated his heroics from last week in Orlando, as the substitute saw a direct free kick headed clear having been well on target. It was yet another encouraging cameo from Silva, whose rehabilitation from injury continues apace, as he almost set up Bobby Boswell for a goal with a good cross.

Wright-Phillips saw a long-range shot saved well by Hamid, and with less than 10 minutes to go, the Red Bulls poured forward as the home side bunkered down to try and preserve all three points and their winning streak.

However, Sam’s timely intervention in the final minutes made sure that New York would escape with a share of the spoils as they drew 2-2. It was a disappointing end for United’s defense, who conceded twice in just 22 minutes in the second half and saw the normally reliable Hamid show his fallibility for the first time this season.

In spite of the tough scoreline, United are now unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions at RFK Stadium, 10 of which come in league play. They also remain top of the Eastern Conference, while the Red Bulls are just behind them in second place with a game in hand, so D.C. will not be totally disheartened by their night’s work.

Goals
DCU — Perry Kitchen (Taylor Kemp) 26’
DCU — Perry Kitchen (Chris Rolfe) 67’
NYRB — Damien Perrinelle (Felipe) 68’
NYRB — Lloyd Sam 90’

Disciplinary
DCU — Taylor Kemp (caution, foul) 36’
NYRB — Mike Grella (caution, foul) 45’
NYRB — Damien Perrinelle (caution, foul) 58’

Attendance: 16,304

D.C. United XI: Hamid; Franklin, Opare, Boswell, Kemp; Farfan (Doyle 65’), Arnaud, Kitchen, Rolfe; Pontius (Jeffrey 89’), Arrieta (Silva 75’).
Subs not used: Dykstra, Korb, Aguilar.

New York Red Bulls XI: Robles; Duvall, Miazga, Perrinelle, Lawrence; McCarty (Richards 77’), Felipe, Sam, Kljestan, Grella (Zizzo 65’), Wright-Phillips
Subs not used: Reynish, Ouimette, Davis, Abang, Lade.

D.C. United Game 4 Recap: United snatch 1-0 win away to Orlando City SC

It was yet another late show from D.C. United, as a goal in second-half stoppage time secured them all three points away to Orlando City at the Citrus Bowl in Florida with a 1-0 win.

In the first half, United owed their clean sheet to goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who kept them in the game with several incredible saves to continue the form that saw him named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year for 2014. However, in the second period it was the visitors who arguably had the best of the game, and missed a couple of glorious chances having been largely stale in attack in the opening 45 minutes.

Then, in the first minute of second-half stoppage time, the crucial goal came. Luis Silva had been brought on as a substitute for his first action of the 2015 season after injury, and had a free kick from about 20 yards out. The United forward curled one around the wall that Donovan Ricketts could not keep out of the Orlando goal, and secured the visitors all three points. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 3 Recap: Late goal seals United victory over Los Angeles Galaxy

In a battle between two teams with players absent for a variety of reasons, D.C. United triumphed 1-0 over the Los Angeles Galaxy at RFK Stadium in their latest MLS fixture thanks to a goal in second-half stoppage time from Chris Pontius.

The Black-and-Red faced an opponent they had not beaten since 2009, but the visitors had some depth issues with Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane and Jaime Penedo all away on international duty. Meanwhile, the hosts had injury and unavailability problems of their own, although with Miguel Aguilar’s work permit now secured he was eligible for selection again.

The home side’s goal when it came was a product of some good teamwork, with the ball finding the net with just over 30 seconds remaining before the final whistle. Nick DeLeon broke down the right and was fed by a deliciously weighted pass from Davy Arnaud that left the Galaxy defense flat-footed. After some trickery, DeLeon lofted a ball into the six-yard box that Pontius managed to get his head on and steer home to secure a vital victory. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 2 Recap: United 2-0 losers again away to New York Red Bulls

At the same venue where they went down to a 2-0 defeat in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinal first leg, D.C. United once again slipped to a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, this time in the early stages of their 2015 MLS regular season.

Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam proved to be United’s torturers once again as they scored in each half, with the visitors offering only brief moments in response as Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch secured his first victory having taken charge in the offseason.

The home side’s opener was straightforward, as Dax McCarty’s lofted ball forward in the 25th minute took advantage of some poor communication between United defenders Bobby Boswell and Steven Birnbaum to find Wright-Phillips lurking. The Englishman made no mistake with a low finish past Bill Hamid to score his first of the 2015 season. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 1 Recap: Jairo Arrieta scores only goal in win over Montreal Impact

D.C. United’s nightmare run of three straight losses in their opening games of the MLS season came to an end at RFK Stadium in front of 11,549 fans as they overcame the Montreal Impact 1-0 thanks to a goal from Jairo Arrieta midway through the second half.

The start to the 2015 league season came hot on the heels of a new collective bargaining agreement being finalized on Wednesday between MLS and the MLS Players Union, while on the same night both United and the Impact were in the midst of the second legs of their respective CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Both enjoyed wildly different fortunes, as D.C. went out 6-4 on aggregate to L.D. Alajuelense of Costa Rica, while Montreal tied 1-1 with Mexican side Pachuca on a late goal from forward Cameron Porter to go through on away goals after a 3-3 draw on aggregate.

[Read more…]

D.C. United: Club achieves greatest victory as City Council approves stadium bill

UNANIMOUS PASSAGE CLEARS WAY FOR SOCCER STADIUM AT BUZZARD POINT

For years, ghostly buzzards circled around D.C. United, waiting for the day when all hope of a new stadium was finally lost, and the team would either move away or disappear from Major League Soccer entirely. But on Wednesday, the D.C. City Council sent United’s future in the entirely opposite direction, passing a soccer stadium bill for the Buzzard Point site that should keep the club in Washington for decades to come.

The bill, in a three-vote process to include funding amendments, passed after a short bit of discussion among Council members, who raised some individual concerns but in the end didn’t waver from their support. [Read more…]

D.C. United: Club loses Neal, McNamara in MLS Expansion Draft

All things considered, the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday could have gone far worse for D.C. United. With players like Eddie Johnson and Davy Arnaud left unprotected, the club was at risk of losing a starter or two, or at least a player who logged significant minutes in the highly successful 2014 season.

Instead, United suffered a loss in the midfield as Lewis Neal was taken by Orlando City SC in the fifth round of the draft, which also included selections by New York City FC. The latter club took midfielder Thomas McNamara from United in the eighth round, a player D.C. had only recently acquired from Chivas USA. McNamara never appeared as a United player. Each new club, which will begin play in 2015 as members of the Eastern Conference, selected 10 players. No MLS club could lose more than two players in the draft, and by rule, United pulled Arnaud off the list of available players once Neal was selected. [Read more…]

D.C. United Playoff Game 2 Recap: Despite victory, United’s dream season ends

A season unlike any other for D.C. United ended in a fashion also unlike any other for the Major League Soccer club. A 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday afternoon before 20,187 at RFK Stadium wasn’t enough to overcome a 2-0 disadvantage from the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Beaten 3-2 on aggregate, United were eliminated by the rival Red Bulls for the first time in history.

There was hope for United after a first half that saw the hosts bag the only goal, a header by Nick DeLeon that came on the end of a perfect Taylor Kemp cross from the attacking left. Another half like that would have left the series level at 2-2, and forced extra time and perhaps later, penalties. But walking a razor-thin tightrope due to the lack of an away goal in the loss at Red Bull Arena last week, United’s pending doom was confirmed when Peguy Luyindula got goal-side on Perry Kitchen and tapped home a Thierry Henry cross that leveled the match at 1-1. [Read more…]

D.C. United Playoff Game 1 Recap: Listless United Blanked by Red Bulls

HENRY ASSISTS BOTH GOALS AS UNITED FALL BEHIND 2-0 IN EASTERN SEMIFINAL

Lauded much of the season for improved play, a more effective attack, and better defending, D.C. United showed exactly none of that Sunday afternoon in its Major League Soccer Cup playoff opener at Red Bull Arena in a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. Thierry Henry drew assists on a first-half goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips and a second-half dagger from Peguy Luyindula. United couldn’t score an away goal that would have had a massive impact on the series, and now must either win the home leg next Saturday at RFK Stadium by a 2-0 score to force extra time, or by three goals.

Without Chris Rolfe to start and the injured Luis Silva, United looked nothing at all like the team that won the Eastern Conference in the regular season and posted a club-record 59 points. Unable to connect on longer passes and crosses, United rarely possessed the ball with any level of consistency, and the defense was asked to do far too much work against a marauding Red Bulls side that didn’t even get full value for the high level of their performance. [Read more…]

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