March 30, 2015

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…]

D.C. United Game 34 Recap: Rainy draw in Montreal brings regular season to close

ESPINDOLA SCORES LATE TO EARN D.C. A POINT

In this massive turnaround season for D.C. United, a 1-1 draw in Montreal on the final day leaves D.C. with a club-record 59 points for the season and first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference heading into the MLS Cup playoffs. Fabian Espindola scored his 11th goal of the season in the 86th minute to bring United level. D.C. finished the regular season 17-9-8 and will win the East by at least four points. Montreal finishes where United did a season ago, dead last in the East, with 27 points (6-18-9).

The game meant vastly different things to each team. Thanks to the L.A. Galaxy’s loss at Seattle earlier in the day, a win in Montreal would have given D.C. the second overall seed in the playoffs, allowing D.C. to host the MLS Cup final (should it get that far) against any team other than Seattle. The 1-1 draw, however, leaves United two points behind the Galaxy. For Montreal, it was a showcase for retiring forward Marco Di Vaio, who is calling it a career at age 38. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 33 Recap: United clinches top seed in East by beating Fire

GOALS BY PONTIUS, JOHNSON CAP UNITED’S SURGE FROM WORST TO FIRST

Last season at this time, some wondered if D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen was about to be fired. This year, Olsen, his team, and 20,162 fans spent the minutes after United’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire Saturday night watching fireworks high above RFK Stadium. Now 17-9-7, United’s 58 points clinch the top seed in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference playoffs a year after United went 3-24-7 in its worst season ever.

Given the club’s roster reformation in the offseason, improvement isn’t a surprise. There was never any way United was going to be that bad again given the players who were brought in. They could win more than three games by accident. But D.C.’s success this season has been far from accidental, as fans who had to suffer a year ago watching Lionard Pajoy wander into previously unexplored frontiers of offside while Own Goal led the team in scoring, last night watched United go unbeaten in five straight games and dispatch the Fire (5-10-18, 33 points), who were playing out the string. [Read more…]

D.C. United News: Luis Silva’s career year interrupted by injury

D.C. United announced via its Twitter feed this morning that midfielder/forward Luis Silva suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Houston, one that will keep him out for “4-6 weeks.” Silva is United’s leading scorer with 11 goals and is having by far the best season of his Major League Soccer career. Silva’s work combining with Fabian Espindola and until recently, Chris Rolfe (who is also out injured), has revitalized United’s attack and been one of the key factors in the team going from last place a year ago to within one point of clinching home-field advantage throughout this season’s Eastern Conference playoffs.

Silva left Sunday’s match in the 30th minute and was replaced by Eddie Johnson. The substitution came a few minutes after play had resumed following a long weather delay.

Beyond just the loss of Silva, who has produced 11 goals and four assists in 27 appearances (22 starts) this season, the absence of both Silva and Rolfe creates a lineup headache for United head coach Ben Olsen. Olsen had found solid roles for players like Silva, Espindola, Rolfe, and Johnson, and all seemed to be doing well in those spots. Johnson’s work as a substitute to help United keep control of games and sometimes extend leads was seen again on Sunday, when he and Espindola keyed a late attack that eventually led to Johnson’s goal that put the game away, giving United its first-ever win in Houston. [Read more…]

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