March 4, 2021

D.C. United Game 10 Recap: Progress, but no points for United in Dallas

FC Dallas midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson scored for FC Dallas in the 77th minute off a corner kick to give his side a 2-1 win over D.C. United in a Major League Soccer (MLS) match at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, tonight. The loss extended United’s winless streak to eight matches (including seven losses), and dropped the club’s record to 1-8-1 (4 points) on the season. FC Dallas improved to a league-best 7-1-3 (24 points).

The 2-1 final was closer than some of United’s recent losses, and deservedly so to some extent, as United were better tonight than they had been in recent weeks. There were decent ideas in the attack, a bit better work on defense, and there was an energy that hadn’t been there in the last few games. But it was all for naught on this night in terms of getting a good result as Watson found himself almost more lucky than good on the winning goal, though had it been United in the same position, they gladly would have taken it.

After a few minutes of sustained pressure by FC Dallas in an 1-1 game, Dallas earned a corner kick, which was taken to the left of new United starting goalkeeper Joe Willis. The corner was low and just outside the 6-yard box, but no one met it in the air. The ball was allowed to bounce across the face of goal, where Watson chested it in for his first goal of the season. Watson had gotten around United defender James Riley. Riley, along with Willis, Ethan White (defense), and Casey Townsend (forward) were newcomers to the starting 11. Previously injured midfielder Nick DeLeon also started, but was replaced to start the second half.

It was a cruel turn for Willis, who had been superb in the minutes leading up to the goal, making a couple key saves to keep United level. The start was Willis’ first of the season, after Bill Hamid had been in goal for each of United’s first 9 league matches of the campaign. Entering tonight, United had conceded 12 goals in its last four matches – though Hamid could hardly be blamed for all of them given the defensive miscues in front of him in various situations. Willis was confident coming off his line to deal with crosses and shots and despite the two goals, showed well for himself.

In a results driven business, however, United again failed to get anything from this road, despite scoring their first road goal of the season thanks to Dwayne De Rosario’s blast from a free kick in the 44th minute that drew D.C. level. With just four points through 10 matches, and only five goals, United are 11 points behind the Philadelphia Union for 5th place and the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. This also marks the fifth consecutive match in which United gave up at least two goals. United’s 19 goals conceded this season are an MLS worst.

As has been the trend of late, United fell behind early. Tonight, it took 11 minutes for FC Dallas to take the lead on a goal by Jackson. Eric Hassli started the move, getting past United center back Dejan Jakovic and dribbling toward the United penalty area. Before he could be accounted for, Hassli delivered a pass to his left and ahead for Jackson, who was alone in the penalty area. No United player could get to him before Jackson lofted a shot into the upper corner past Willis. It was Jackson’s third goal of the season and Hassli’s first assist.

But unlike prior games, United responded. Following a corner kick late in the first half, Jackson fouled De Rosario just outside the Dallas penalty area. After the ensuing free kick, from about 22 yards out to Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz’s right, De Rosario blasted a low shot that beat Seitz to the keeper’s left and landed in the bottom corner of the net. DeLeon got an assist, his first of the year. The goal was United’s first road goal of the season, and De Rosario’s first of the season (101st of his MLS career). That goal, scored in the 44th minute, was enough to leave United level with the league leaders at halftime.

Overall, the first half was some of the best soccer United had played in quite some time. Despite the defensive errors that led to the Dallas goal, United showed a coordinated attack, held the ball confidently, and while some plays could have been created through quicker passing and decision-making, United seemed much more in control and lively than it had in previous matches, to the point that the 1-1 score at the intermission wasn’t undeserved – which was a definite change from the losses to Philadelphia, Columbus, and Houston.

Forward newcomer Townsend showed a bit of pep early, getting free for a chance on Seitz, but his shot deflected off Seitz’s shoulder and the post for what should have been a corner kick, but Dallas were given a goal kick instead. If anything, he was much more involved early than Pajoy had been through all of his time. More time in the lineup for Townsend can only help the player and probably the team, as well. Pajoy did appear as a second-half substitute, but didn’t factor, and as a team, United did little toward equalizing late.

United are in action next on Sunday, May 19, at RFK Stadium against Sporting Kansas City, in a 5 p.m. kickoff. Sporting Kansas City beat visiting United, 1-0, earlier this season.

NOTES:  White and De Rosario received cautions for United. … Attendance at Pizza Hut Park was announced as 14,322. … Dallas outshot D.C., 14-9, including a 5-3 advantage in shots on goal. Raphael Augusto’s second-half shot on goal broke a string of five consecutive United shots on goal that were by De Rosario over the course of two matches. … Brandon McDonald, one of the former defensive starters who was dropped from tonight’s lineup, came on as a substitute and played the final 20 minutes.

Ed Morgans is a Contributor to District Sports Page, covering D.C. United. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

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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