December 10, 2019

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.

Initially at least, the two sides looked to be suffering slightly from their exertions during the week, as the game started slowly and lacked a certain sharpness in passing and opportunities created.

United’s pairing up front of 2015 newcomer Arrieta and stalwart Chris Pontius — in for the suspended Fabian Espindola — had some good moments initially as they looked to keep growing their understanding, while Steven Birnbaum also looked an aerial threat at times from set pieces. Meanwhile, Impact midfielder Dilly Duka looked to be a nuisance in attack with his pace and trickery, but lone striker Jack McInerney looked well shackled.

The best early opportunity fell to Pontius, who was played in well by Arrieta after the Costa Rican pressured Laurent Ciman into a mistake in defense. Unfortunately, Pontius’ shot was well blocked, but it gave the home side and their fans some much-needed confidence in the opening 20 minutes.

The Impact’s best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute, as defender Donny Toia came rampaging forward and had a shot from range that was parried away for a corner by United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, seemingly fully recovered from a shoulder problem that has dogged him throughout the offseason.

On the left-hand side, Chris Rolfe was showing a good turn of pace and desire to get involved in the attack, and he had a couple of good chances towards the end of the first period, the earlier of which stemmed from some delicious interchange passing with Nick DeLeon.

Sandwiched between those chances was another for Pontius, as he showed off some trickery of his own to cut in from the right of the penalty area and leave Ciman sprawling. However, the 27-year-old saw his shot blocked away by another Impact defender covering in behind.

The second half began much as the first, with both sides feeling their way into the game, but it came to life around the hour mark as Hamid blocked away a long range shot from Justin Mapp, then Arrieta put United ahead 1-0.

It was a fairly straightforward move in the end, as Davy Arnaud played a long ball forward to Rolfe in a central position. Rolfe then lifted another long ball forward into the path of Arrieta, who used the pace of the ball to tap it past the oncoming Evan Bush and into the back of the net.

Bush’s decision to come charging out to meet Arrieta was questionable given he had defenders around him, but one of United’s offseason acquisitions did not care as he slotted home for his first league goal in the Black-and-Red.

Pontius hit the crossbar almost immediately after the goal was scored, and in the 76th minute Montreal thought they had a shout for a penalty.

Hamid failed to punch a corner away effectively enough, and after the ball was played back into the box, Hassoun Camara had a shot blocked on the line by substitute Conor Doyle by what appeared to be his arm. However, replays showed that Doyle’s arm was not extended away from his body, while referee Mark Geiger was unmoved despite some vigorous Impact appeals.

Then, Hamid came up big for his side with just over eight minutes to go. A long ball was played forward into Mapp’s path, but as he bore down on goal United’s goalkeeper was out quickly to smother the danger and ensure that the hosts’ lead remained intact.

That turned out to be a crucial play, as despite some desperate attacking in the closing minutes from the visitors, United held on well to start the season with a 1-0 win on their home turf.

Goals
DCU — Jairo Arrieta (Davy Arnaud, Chris Rolfe) 58’

Disciplinary
None

Attendance: 11,549

D.C. United XI: Hamid; Korb, Boswell, Birnbaum, Franklin; Rolfe (Aguilar 77’), Kitchen, Arnaud, DeLeon; Arrieta (Farfan, 90’), Pontius (Doyle 66’).
Subs not used: Dykstra, Jeffrey, Opare, Mishu.

Montreal Impact XI: Bush; Toia, Soumare, Ciman, Camara; Mapp (Oduro 86’), Reo-Coker, Piatti (Alexander 76’), Mallace, Duka; McInerney (Porter 71’).
Subs not used: Kronberg, Cabrera, Tissot, Bernier.

About Chris Teale

Chris Teale is D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. He has been credentialed to cover the team since 2014, having previously interned in their Communications department for part of the 2013 season. Chris also covers high school sports for the Alexandria Times, cricket for Bleacher Report and soccer at various levels for SoccerWire. He has worked in the past for College Soccer News, Goal.com and other outlets in England, where he grew up and cut his teeth on all things sporting. You can follow Chris on Twitter @chris_teale.

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