April 21, 2021

D.C. United Game 19 Recap: United earns point as Rapids can’t beat Willis

D.C. United goalkeeper Joe Willis made seven saves to keep the Colorado Rapids off the scoreboard and earn United a road point in a 0-0 draw Sunday night before 14,739 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. The tie put United’s record for the 2013 Major League Soccer season at 2-13-4 (10 points), which leaves D.C. last in MLS. The Rapids are now 7-7-6 (27 points, 6th West).

As has been the case for much of the season, United provided very little offensive threat, despite head coach Ben Olsen removing Lionard Pajoy from the starting lineup and replacing him with Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz had a couple looks on goal in his 83 minutes – but Rapids goalkeeper Clinton Irwin saved both. The best chance came in the 53rd minute, when Ruiz got the ball on the left with an open look at goal, but his shot was saved by Irwin, who had come about 8 yards off his line to cut off the angle. Ruiz’s two shots on goal were the only ones United registered in the match.

It was a different story for Colorado, however, who despite narrowly winning the possession battle (52.6%), were much more dangerous on the ball. The Rapids peppered the United goal with shots, many of which were wayward, as 15 of Colorado’s 23 attempts were off target (one other was blocked). Willis, however, came up huge on the other seven, often denying Colorado midfielder Deshorn Brown. Four times Brown fired on goal, and four times Willis got the best of him. Brown was also thwarted in the 71st minute by United defender Daniel Woolard, who neatly tackled the ball away from Brown to deny a scoring chance, without fouling and giving away a penalty.

The highlight of Willis’ saves might have come in the 12th minute, when Willis got a hand on a Brown shot at close range after defender Ethan White failed to adequately deal with the cross that let Brown in on the goalkeeper. Willis also deflected away a ball to deny a Brown scoring chance in the 75th minute. Brown was likely the Rapids’ best player, as he was a constant pest in United’s defensive third.

Willis was unmistakeably the man of the match for United, starting in place of the usual number-one Bill Hamid, who is with the U.S. Men’s National Team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Entering last night’s match, Willis had made six saves in three starts. He bettered that total by one against Colorado, lowering his goals against average to 1.50. Willis’ record is 0-3-1. This was his first shutout of the season and United’s fifth.

United’s record would be better than 2-13-4 if the offense would awaken. But again Sunday night, chances were few and far between and there wasn’t much in terms of cohesive attack. Taylor Kemp, who earned a start at outside back, often found himself involved in United’s offense, trying to cross into the box and taking corner kicks. But United only managed two corners to Colorado’s eight, so while Kemp made decent deliveries, there just weren’t enough opportunities for him to do so.

With Dwyane De Rosario, Nick DeLeon, and Lewis Neal all out injured, the midfield featured a quartet of John Thorrington, Perry Kitchen, Sainey Nyassi, and Kyle Porter. Porter was replaced at halftime by Alain Rochat. Nyassi struggled to bring much to the game, other than drawing a free kick from dangerous range, but Porter’s free kick careened straight off the Colorado wall. United collected the rebound and White made a nice back-post run to head back toward goal, but Rapids defender Drew Moor headed the ball out of danger. Nyassi wasn’t up to par early with his defensive responsibilities, but did commit to a tackle in the 64th minute that denied a shooting chance, leaving the United midfielder on the ground with a knock for the second time. Nyassi was able to finish the game.

Ruiz and Chris Pontius started up front and neither finished the match. Ruiz was replaced in the 84th minute by Casey Townsend, while Pontius had been removed 10 minutes earlier in favor of Lionard Pajoy. Pajoy had one potential opportunity in the 77th minute, but he failed to handle a nice Rochat cross, ending the threat.

From there, it was almost all Rapids, as the home side tried to earn what would have been a much anticipated three points going in. But twice Willis saved from shots by Colorado substitute Nick LaBrocca, and fellow replacement Jaime Castrillon missed in the 90th minute on a shot from short range but at a tough angle that Willis may have gotten a finger on. Willis was not credited with a save, however, and United was awarded a goal kick.

The final whistle brought with it a much needed point for United, but also lowered the curtain on another match in which United not only failed to score in the run of play, but failed to score at all for the 12th time this league season. United hasn’t scored an MLS goal from somewhere other than the penalty spot since Kyle Porter scored in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on May 19. The goal that day came in the 65th minute, meaning United has now gone 745 minutes without scoring a goal in open play in MLS action. United hasn’t scored a league goal at all since June 22, a span of 349 minutes.

With just 8 goals for the league season, United is on pace for only 14 for the year. With only 10 points in the standings so far, United is on pace for just 18. All but two clubs in MLS (Toronto FC and Chivas USA) already have more than that. With Chivas USA scoring in a 1-1 draw at Montreal on Sunday, every team in the league has scored at least twice as many goals as United this season. D.C. has only 1 away goal this season.

United’s next league match is away at Chicago on July 20. Before that, D.C. will host an international friendly against Chivas of Guadalajara on Friday night at RFK Stadium.

NOTES:  Elsewhere in MLS over the weekend, it was: New England 2, San Jose 0; Houston 1, Philadelphia 0; Vancouver 2, Seattle 0; Columbus 1, Portland 0 (The Timbers’ first loss in 16 matches); Sporting Kansas City 2, Chicago 1; Los Angeles 2, Dallas 0; and Montreal 1, Chivas USA 1. … In the Gold Cup, there were two major upsets yesterday in the opening matches of group play, as Martinique shocked Canada, 1-0; and Panama defeated Mexico, 2-1. The United States opens their Gold Cup schedule vs. Belize on Tuesday at 11 p.m. Eastern (Fox Soccer Channel). … Brown had as many shots on goal last night (4), as Pajoy has had in 1,026 minutes for United this season. … In league play, no United player has been shown a red card this season. … The 23 total shots by Colorado were the second-most United has conceded this season. New York (24) had the most, also in a 0-0 draw, in the third game of the season.


Shots: COL 23 – 6 DCU
Shots on Goal: COL 7 – 2 DCU
Corners: COL 8 – 2 DCU
Fouls: COL 12 – 13 DCU
Offside: COL 2 – 0 DCU
Possession: COL 52.6% – 47.4% DCU

UNITED (2-13-4): Willis; White, Woolard, Riley, Kemp; Nyassi, Kitchen, Thorrington, Porter (Rochat 46′); Ruiz (Townsend 84′; caution 86′), Pontius (Pajoy 74′).

RAPIDS (7-7-6): Irwin; O’Neill (caution 39′; Mullan 55′), Klute, Moore, Mera; Thomas (caution 2′), Powers, Brown, Sturgis, Harris (LaBrocca 61′); Buddle (Castrillon 83′).

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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