August 11, 2020

D.C. United Game 17 Recap: Penalty, lack of offense, do in United

D.C. United fell to 2-12-3 on the 2013 Major League Soccer season thanks to its inability to convert on a nice stretch of play in the first half, and a Vancouver penalty kick early in the second half that appeared as dubious as it was deflating. The Vancouver Whitecaps beat United, 1-0, before 13,122 at RFK Stadium on Saturday night. Vancouver improved to 7-5-4 (25 points). United is stuck on 9 points, last place in the Eastern Conference.

Most will point to the 47th minute when Vancouver’s Matt Watson entered the penalty area, chasing after a lead pass after having cleanly beaten the United defense. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid came off his line, running out to his right to try and get to the ball before Watson. Watson leaned in to try and get a touch on the ball, knowing if he did and then went down, it’d likely be a penalty, since he’d probably knock the ball past Hamid and Hamid would take Watson down without having gotten the ball.

However, if Watson got any contact on the ball at all with his right foot in full stretch, it was negligible. Hamid, one of the quicker goalkeepers n the league, dove down to his right full out and deflected the ball way from Watson, getting both hands on the ball cleanly. With no way to stop his momentum, Hamid then slid into Watson, who went down, rolled, got back to his feet, then fell over again for good measure.

Referee Matthew Foerster was approximately 30 yards behind the play when it occurred, getting caught near midfield when the play quickly developed. Whether he was shielded by another player from seeing Hamid’s touch, too far away to see the play clearly, or simply thought it was Watson that had kicked the ball away (perhaps deflecting off Hamid to cause it to go where it did), Foerster immediately signaled for a penalty kick, much to the frustration of Hamid and his teammates.

Vancouver midfielder Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo scored from the spot. Despite having just about the entire second half to come back, United were unable to put many clear opportunities on goal, even during a 19-minute stretch before the final whistle where attacking players Chris Pontius, Carlos Ruiz, Lionard Pajoy, and Casey Townsend were all on the field at the same time. Even Hamid was in the attacking third in the final minute, earning a caution for a foul.

Coming just three days after a hard-fought 3-1 win over the New England Revolution in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, United were unable to continue that momentum Saturday night overall. But for much of the first half, it appeared there was some carryover. D.C. bossed most of the opening 45 minutes in terms of possession and were easily able to get into Vancouver’s defensive third. But of 23 shot attempts for United in the match, only four were on target (more were blocked – five).

Vancouver’s best chance to open the scoring in the first half was an 11th-minute chance blocked near the line by United defender Alain Rochat – who was playing against his former team for the first time since being acquired by United from the Whitecaps on June 6.

Going into the halftime break, United had to feel pretty good about where it stood in the match, despite the 0-0 score. The only regret would have been not getting a goal to go with their strong play in the opening 45 minutes – a failing that was immediately brought to the spotlight when Hamid was whistled for the foul and Vancouver capitalized on the penalty kick.

While United probably have a case with regard to discussing the penalty kick (not that it’s going to change), the fact remains that the club hasn’t scored an MLS goal from anywhere other than the penalty spot since May 19, in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City. Since then, United has played six matches, scoring but two goals – both on penalties. Dwayne De Rosario scored from the spot in a 2-1 loss vs. Toronto, and Pontius scored a PK in United’s 1-0 win over San Jose. United were shutout in the other four matches. During the six-match stretch in the league since that draw with SKC, United are 1-4-1.

With just 8 goals scored in MLS for the entire season, the club is averaging a paltry 0.47 goals per game – a pace to score 16 for the entire season as United has now reached the halfway mark.

So while the penalty was the game’s deciding factor, United’s lack of offensive prowess put the club in the position where one call – bad or not – could sink them for the night. Such has been the tale for most of the season.

The league campaign continues with two away matches for United this week. On Wednesday, United is at Seattle (6-5-3, 21 points, 7th West) for a 10 p.m. Eastern kickoff. On Sunday, United visits Colorado (6-7-5, 23 points, 6th West) in a match that begins at 9:30 p.m. Eastern. Both matches are to be televised locally by CSN.

NOTES:  United are 14 points out of a playoff spot in the East. … United midfielder Kyle Porter, who left the Open Cup match Wednesday after taking a knock, started last night and went 60 minutes before being replaced by Townsend. … Last night’s match was the second of four straight vs. Western Conference opponents. United is 2-3-0 vs. the West this season, 0-9-3 against the East.

Sanvezzo 48′ (PK)

Shots: DC 23-16 VAN
Shots on Goal: DC 4-3 VAN
Corners: DC 9-7 VAN
Fouls: DC 9-12 VAN
Offside: DC 4-3 VAN
Possession: DC 60.1%-39.9% VAN

D.C. (2-12-3): Hamid (caution 94′); Korb, Woolard, White, Rochat; Thorrington, Porter (Townsend 61′), Nyassi (Ruiz 72′), Kitchen; De Rosario (Pajoy 70′), Pontius.

VAN (7-5-4): Knighton; Reo-Coker, Harvey, Mitchell, Leveron; Kobayashi (Koffie 69′ – caution 70′), Watson (Rusin 87′), Teibert, Sanvezzo (goal 48′; Mattocks 78′), Davidson; Miller.

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, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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