August 20, 2014

D.C. United Game 23 Recap: Silva double sparks triumph over Colorado

UNITED BREAKS LOSING STREAK WITH FOUR-GOAL OUTBURST AGAINST RAPIDS

D.C. United capped off a Major League Soccer weekend filled with goals by putting on a show of its own Sunday night at RFK Stadium, as United downed the Colorado Rapids, 4-2. Luis Silva scored twice to push his season total to seven, while Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola also tallied for United. D.C. improved to 12-7-4 (40 points) with the win, while the Rapids fells to 8-10-6 (30 points) and remain three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

United has no such concerns about climbing the playoff ladder now and now sit just two points behind Sporting Kansas City atop the East. D.C. shrugged off a two-game losing streak and a ridiculous 52nd-minute equalizer from Colorado’s Dillon Serna to score three of the game’s final four goals to right the ship. Espindola started and went the full 90 for the first time since a knee injury caused him to miss several games. Only the crossbar kept Espindola from scoring twice himself last night, though he still leads the team with eight goals and eight assists. [Read more...]

D.C. United Game 22 Recap: Real Salt Lake buries listless United right away

The return of Nick DeLeon, Chris Korb, and even Fabian Espindola as a substitute couldn’t save D.C. United from a 3-0 drubbing Saturday night at Real Salt Lake. The listless and stomach-turning performance dropped United to 11-7-4 (37 points) on the season. RSL took over first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference at 10-4-9, 39 points.

United were neatly and surgically put away within a half-hour, thanks to an 11th-minute goal from Joao Plata and then two goals by defender Chris Schuler, who had a grand total of two career goals prior to Saturday night’s match. He had two in this match by the time 24 minutes were gone. United’s defending was non-existent at times and the attack managed just two shots on goal – eight total – and were flattered by the end to have 45 percent of possession. [Read more...]

D.C. United: Trio shines in peppy MLS All-Star victory over Bayern Munich

In a match that was full of Pep (Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, that is), the three D.C. United players who were named to the MLS All-Star team played the entire second half. That 45 minutes saw the MLS All-Stars erase a 1-0 deficit to beat the German champions, 2-1, thanks to goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls) and Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy). Defenders Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell, as well as goalkeeper Bill Hamid (who earned the win), were part of 11 new MLS players who started the second half.

Boswell got the second assist on the All-Stars’ opening goal in the 51st minute. The United defender played a long ball forward up the middle of the field that was flicked on by Erick Torres (Chivas USA). That touch carried it about 25 yards from the Bayern Munich goal, where Wright-Phillips ran on to it, took one touch, then blasted a left-footed shot to the upper far corner past goalkeeper Tom Starke. [Read more...]

D.C. United Game 21 Recap: One mistake costs United big in loss at Houston

One split-second of indecision, one small moment where a player didn’t do the right thing, one little bit of miscommunication – that was all it took Sunday night for D.C. United to give away a point in Houston, as the club lost, 1-0, to the Dynamo. Will Bruin scored the winner after a back header by stand-in D.C. defender Taylor Kemp was mishandled by rookie center back Steve Birnbaum, causing goalkeeper Bill Hamid to leave his line. When neither of them collected the ball, Omar Cumming centered to Bruin, he had an open net to drop United to 11-6-4 (37 points) on the season. Houston won for the first time in nine matches and improved to 6-11-4 (22 points).

United, as so often happens in Houston, where the club has never won, didn’t get much of the ball and was chasing the game all evening. Houston put up 20 shot attempts to United’s seven, played 21 crosses to D.C.’s 10, and had eight corners to just two for United. Statistically, the game was a blowout. [Read more...]

D.C. United Game 20 Recap: United romp past Toronto to continue streak

D.C. United improved to 4-1 without injured leading scorer Fabian Espindola, and 11-5-4 (37 points) overall with a resounding 3-0 thumping of Toronto FC (7-7-5, 29) before 16,171 at RFK Stadium. United, second place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and winners of four straight, brushed aside the conference’s third-place team with ease thanks to goals from Eddie Johnson and Chris Rolfe, then a TFC own goal set up by some terrific work by D.C. midfielder Nick DeLeon.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make a couple quality saves among the eight he totaled, but for the most part, D.C. were better on the ball, did more advanced work off the ball, and United’s defense were somewhat of a brick wall compared to that of TFC. With space open on all sides of the field, it was only a matter of time before United, even without the seven goals and eight assists from Espindola in the lineup, made Toronto pay.

The onslaught began in the eighth minute, when for the first time this season, Johnson scored from open play, crashing home a header from the middle of the penalty area off a perfect Perry Kitchen cross. Johnson has now scored in three straight games, but the other two came from penalty kicks and Johnson’s opening goal of the campaign was a header from a corner kick.

Kitchen, meanwhile, was the best American midfielder on the field, even with U.S. National Team stalwart Michael Bradley in the 11 for Toronto. The assist was his second of the season to go with three goals, and his defensive work was on point as always.

Chris Rolfe made it 2-0 in the 59th minute, converting on a 1-0n-1 chance with Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik after DeLeon was felled in the penalty area. Referee Chris Penso played advantage and Rolfe finished the chance neatly.

DeLeon was also involved in the third goal, opening up space for himself in the box after first eluding Justin Morrow, then dispensing of would-be defender Nick Hagglund. His shot was saved by Bendik, but then it was knocked into the net by a recovering Hagglund.

Since losing Espindola, United have outscored its opponents, 10-4. United looks to continue the surge Sunday at the Houston Dynamo (8 p.m., CSN).

THE GOOD: A lot to choose from. But DeLeon’s moves both on his goal and in the midfield to create space and hold possession were of high quality.

THE BAD: Johnson, Davy Arnaud, and Chris Korb were all cautioned. But really, that’s being picky. Nothing to complain about over tonight’s performance.

THE UGLY: This was Hagglund’s second straight game vs. United that went really poorly. Good for United, but given TFC’s appetite for success by bringing in guys like Bradley and Jermain Defoe, the defense (28 goals allowed) has to be shored up for the Reds to be a serious MLS Cup contender.

  • The club announced the acquisition of defender Kofi Opare, via trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy. According to the club, the Galaxy also sent United its second-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The Galaxy move up to United’s spot in the allocation order. Opare will provide defensive depth which is needed since center back Jeff Parke remains out injured, though rookie Steve Birnbaum (90 minutes tonight) is doing well in his absence.Opare is a 23-year-old Canadian defender. He had five starts in his six appearances for the Galaxy this season. Opare made six appearances (all starts) for Los Angeles in 2013, his rookie season. Opare played his college soccer at the University of Michigan.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. He covered United for The Journal Newspapers from 1997-2002. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

D.C. United Game 19 Recap: United within a point of first place

JOHNSON CONVERTS ANOTHER PK IN 3-1 D.C. VICTORY OVER CHIVAS USA

D.C. United won its third straight match and moved within one point of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City with a 3-1 win Sunday night over Chivas USA before 13,732 at RFK Stadium. United improved to 10-5-4 on the season (34 points), while Chivas USA failed to help its playoff chances and sit 6-8-5 (23 points), four points out of a playoff spot in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.

United were both boosted and burned by the penalty spot, as Eddie Johnson scored from 12 yards in the 25th minute for the opening goal of the match, and the lone Chivas USA strike also came from the spot, converted by Erick Torres in the 84th minute, but by that time the match was well in hand. [Read more...]

D.C. United Game 18 Recap: Hamid saves, saves, and saves again in win at San Jose

Ideally, D.C. United shouldn’t need goalkeeper Bill Hamid to stand on his head or make 10-bell saves, or play as if he is a super goalkeeping being from another planet. There should be enough done defensively and with possession in the attack such that Hamid isn’t a team-saving behemoth with all the work to himself to do.

However, on nights such as Friday and in times such as the second half of United’s 2-1 win at San Jose, it’s nice to know that if Hamid indeed has to be all those things, he can. Hamid made seven saves (according to MLS, he was credited with nine during the NBCSN broadcast), many of the spectacular variety, as D.C. built a 2-0 first-half lead, saw it sliced to one before halftime, then hung on for dear life for most of the final 45 minutes. The away win was United’s third straight, and leaves the club 9-5-4 (31 points) in the standings and still alone in first place atop Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. [Read more...]

D.C. United Game 17 Recap: United hit halfway point in first place after win at Toronto

Road wins are rarely pretty, but they are so very important. D.C. United got three vital away points Saturday night, winning at Eastern Conference rival Toronto FC, 2-1, before 22,591 at BMO Field. Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen scored the goals for United, while Luke Moore got on the scoresheet for Toronto. With the win, United improved to 8-5-4 (28 points), leaving D.C. alone in first place in the East halfway through its season (pending Sporting Kansas City’s result Sunday vs. Chicago).

Road wins were non-existent in the league for United last season, one when winning anywhere was a true rarity. There was a school of thought that such troubled times would befall the black-and-red again now, with leading scorer (and assist man) Fabian Espindola out with a knee injury for several weeks. Where would the offense come from? [Read more...]

D.C. United Game 16 Recap: Team sputters in 1-0 loss to Seattle

On Saturday night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. United showed an attack replete with excellent ideas but confounded with how to execute them. Excellent runs were unrewarded, crosses were wayward, shots either hit the frame or sailed high or wide into warm Washington night. It all added up to a 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders before 16,922. The defeat drops United to 7-5-4 (25 points) on the season and a first-place tie with Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.

The only goal of the game came in the 39th minute, via Seattle forward Chad Barrett. After United cleared a Sounders corner kick, the attack restarted and midfielder Gonzalo Pineda found himself with space on the right flank. He whipped in a left-footed cross that United seemed to be prepared for, in terms of the number of defenders there to deal with it. [Read more...]

Espindola injury a major setback for D.C. United

D.C. United announced on its website Tuesday morning that forward Fabian Espindola, the offensive revelation that has allowed the club to go from worst to first early this Major League Soccer season, will miss approximately six weeks with a knee injury suffered against Montreal on June 11.

The club stated that Espindola suffered a strained MCL from a tackle. Espindola, who had three assists in the 4-2 win at Montreal, led the club with seven goals and eight assists. The eight assists were already a career high, and Espindola was on pace to smash his career high in goals (10), as well.

[Read more...]

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