September 15, 2019

D.C. United Game 10 Recap: United only manage draw vs. struggling Montreal

On the day of the Preakness Stakes, Eddie Johnson found his finishing touch just before the wire, but it was only good enough to allow D.C. United a dead heat with the Montreal Impact as the clubs shared the points in a 1-1 draw before 14,106 at RFK Stadium. United is now 4-3-3 (15 points) on the 2014 Major League Soccer season. Montreal is 1-5-4 (7 points) and in last place in the Eastern Conference.

United drew level in the 84th minute as the season-long scoreless streak for Johnson finally came to an end with a decisive header into the bottom corner of the net from a Fabian Espindola cross. Johnson’s goal was a decent end to what had been a bad week, as Johnson was left off the 30-man preliminary U.S. roster for the upcoming World Cup.

Early on, it didn’t appear Johnson was having a good night. Many early attacks ended with Johnson waving his arms at his teammates either in frustration at not getting a pass, or in being unable to help on the play. He was lucky not to be carded early in the second half, when he pressured Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who smothered the ball. Johnson then appeared to drag his boot across the top of Perkins’ face, drawing a lecture but no card from referee Sorin Stoica.

But instead of being subbed off, head coach Ben Olsen left Johnson in the game with United down to Jack McInerney’s 56th-minute goal and with the Impact threatening to win for the first time at RFK. The decision paid dividends as Johnson equalized, and he was later subbed off for Conor Doyle in the final minutes.

Espindola, who earned his team-high fourth assist (to go with his four goals for the season) on the Johnson goal (Chris Rolfe also got a helper), had a chance to win it for D.C. in stoppage time, but his low shot to the near post was saved by Perkins. Prior to Johnson’s goal, second-half sub Luis Silva blasted a shot off the crossbar.

That United was in the game at all for Johnson to tie it was thanks to United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and defender Chris Korb. Hamid made multiple stops on Impact midfielder Sanna Nyassi, who kept finding open space in the United penalty area. In the 63rd minute, Hamid denied Nyassi in spectacular fashion and from short range, diving down to get his right hand on the strike and keep it out.

The ball, however, rebounded perfectly to McInerney, who appeared to have an open net ready to welcome his second goal of the night and third of the season. But Korb dove and blocked McInerney’s shot with his back, and Hamid gathered the rebound to keep it at 1-0 to the Impact. Hamid was credited with five saves, but Korb gave him a big helping hand (or back) on a play that started with a United turnover near midfield.

Turnovers were a theme for the night on the part of United, and among those who struggled was left back Cristian Fernandez. On the Impact goal, his opportunity to clear the ball out for a throw or corner instead bounced off his knee and stayed in play for Impact midfielder Justin Mapp. Mapp then worked the end line and with Fernandez unable to close him down, Mapp was able to center for McInerney who put the ball away.

As much good work as Korb, Bobby Boswell, and Jeff Parke have done this season, and for the various quality things Fernandez sometimes brings to the attack, better defensive efforts will be needed on his part going forward in order for United to be successful. Saturday’s home match against the worst team in MLS should have been one from which an improved United squad could earn three points. Especially given D.C. finally got the breakthrough it has been waiting for from Johnson. But a defensive miscue and inability to keep the ball in several spots, plus some bad luck on the Silva shot, left United with a point that has to feel like a disappointment.

That feeling is doubled when you consider United now plays a tough stretch against four Eastern rivals (Houston, New England, Sporting Kansas City, and Columbus), before a match at Montreal on June 11, leading into a 17-day World Cup break. While it’s too early to look at playoff races, it’s not too early to mull over whether these two points lost will be costly later.

On the bright side, however, Johnson finally has a goal and that header saved United from getting nothing out of the game. D.C. is back home Wednesday night against the Houston Dynamo at 7 p.m.

NOTES:  New England beat Philadelphia, 5-2, Saturday, the second straight game in which the Revs have dropped a nickel. New England beat Seattle last week, 5-0. Real Salt Lake and Chicago also scored five goals in games last week. United last gave up five goals in a game on May 2, 2012, in a 5-3 loss at San Jose. United last scored five goals in a league game on May 31, 2006, in a 5-1 home victory vs. Columbus.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. 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.

%d bloggers like this: