October 15, 2019

D.C. UNITED GAME 1 RECAP: Dynamo continue home dominance vs. D.C. United

A new Major League Soccer season began Saturday night in Houston, Texas, but for D.C. United, the song remained the same. United fell, 2-0, to the Houston Dynamo before 20,019 at BBVA Compass Stadium, thanks to an own goal scored by United defender James Riley, and a late insurance goal by Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark.

United (0-1, 0 points) has played at Houston nine times and have just one draw and eight losses to show for it. On Saturday night, United survived a dodgy penalty call in the first half, then two Houston shots from point blank range in the half’s final minutes, to emerge scoreless at halftime.

But after carrying a bit more possession and generating a couple chances in the second half, United fell behind when, on a Dynamo corner kick, Clark got goal-side position on Riley and went up to head the ball toward goal from close range. Clark missed, but Riley made contact, sending a hard header past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to give Houston the 1-0 advantage in the 80th minute.

United never really threatened a comeback from there, but any thought of drawing level late to steal a point vanished nine minutes later. From a throw-in, Houston substitute Warren Creavalle managed to keep the ball in play near the end line to Hamid’s left, then passed to a wide-open Clark in the penalty area. Clark blasted a well-taken shot to the upper corner at Hamid’s far post, giving Houston its final 2-0 margin of victory.

At halftime, it appeared as if United were on their way toward capturing at least a point. Hamid dove right to save a Brad Davis penalty kick after D.C. defender Chris Korb was cautioned for a foul on Clark in the 40th minute. Replays showed the foul actually occurred outside the penalty area, despite head referee Baldomero Toledo’s insistence to the contrary. No matter, however, as Davis’ penalty kick was not well struck and Hamid saved easily. He then doubled his effort by collecting a rebound shot, ending the threat.

Moments later, United nearly took the lead themselves, but Chris Pontius’ free kick banged off the crossbar above Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall. United then again avoided going down a goal when, on a corner kick, a shot by Houston defender Bobby Boswell was cleared off the line by Korb at Hamid’s left post. Giles Barnes followed up from only a few feet away, but Hamid saved that effort, allowing for the scoreless deadlock at halftime.

United’s defense couldn’t hold out past 80 minutes, however, and D.C. will entertain Real Salt Lake on Saturday, March 9, at RFK Stadium in the home opener looking for its first standings points of the 2013 season.

Coming Monday:  A preview of D.C. United’s 18th season in Major League Soccer. On Tuesday, a more detailed analysis of how United dropped its season opener in Houston.

Notes:  D.C. United defender Daniel Woolard received the only other caution, for a foul in the 15th minute. Woolard was replaced by Riley to start the second half. … There was no debut for new United forward Carlos Ruiz, who started the game on the subs’ bench but was not inserted into the game by D.C. head coach Ben Olsen. … Elsewhere on Opening Day Saturday, Sporting Kansas City rallied from a goal down to beat the Philadelphia Union, 3-1; the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated Toronto FC, 1-0; FC Dallas blanked the Colorado Rapids, 1-0; the Montreal Impact scored an upset win at the Seattle Sounders, 1-0; and the Columbus Crew crushed Chivas USA, 3-0. … There are three matches Sunday, including Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls, televised by ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. The other two matches feature Los Angeles Galaxy-Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes-Real Salt Lake.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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