July 15, 2020

D.C. United Game 33 Recap: United fall by a goal at Sporting KC

In one instant, it was easy to tell which team was competing for Major League Soccer’s Supporters’ Shield, and which team was going to finish bottom of the league.

United midfielder Perry Kitchen’s (playing defender) soft back pass toward goalkeeper Bill Hamid was intercepted by Sporting Kansas City forward Dominic Dwyer, who then beat Hamid for the only goal in SKC’s 1-0 win over United before 18,932 at Sporting Park Friday night.

The win lifted Sporting Kansas City to 16-10-7 on the season, and SKC’s 55 points are, for now, good enough for first in the league. New York, Portland, and Real Salt Lake are all within two points of Sporting as play begins Saturday, with RSL at Portland tonight, and New York visiting Houston tomorrow. After tomorrow’s matches are complete, all teams in the Shield race will have one match left.

United, meanwhile, dropped to 3-23-7 (16 points), a full 10 points behind the 18th-place club in 19-team MLS. Even a win next week at home vs. Houston can only see D.C. draw level with the 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny and 2005 Chivas USA for fewest wins in MLS history (4). The Mutiny, however, only played 27 matches that season (which was cut short due to the September 11 attacks). Chivas USA (32 games) was an expansion club in its first season.

United created little offense, last night, though Sporting Kansas City wasn’t much more punishing in their attack, leaving United just a goal behind late, such that D.C. might have been able to sneak a road point.

However, United’s best opportunity came early on, and fell to the feet of young midfielder Jared Jeffrey, who captained what amounted to a 3-on-the goalkeeper break in the 15th minute, not long after Dwyer had given SKC the lead. Jeffrey decided to shoot for himself, but by the time he did, Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen had come well off his line to challenge Jeffrey, and his shot careened right into Nielsen and the threat disappeared.

In the second half, Jeffrey took a shot from distance but missed a good bit high. He was also cautioned for a foul, one of four yellow cards United earned, all for fouls.

Dwyer was in the right place at the right time to open and finish the scoring. The play actually started with United gaining possession from SKC near midfield. But instead of transitioning quickly into an attack, Lewis Neal held his position at the midfield line and played back to his right for Jeffrey.

Given time to recover and not facing an attack, SKC again began to defend. Now under pressure, Jeffrey played a long, soft pass backward toward Kitchen, with SKC forward C.J. Sapong in full chase. Sapong got to Kitchen just after the ball did, and Kitchen responded by turning and trying to play a back pass for Hamid.

But Dwyer got to it before Hamid did, created enough space between him and the keeper while moving left to shoot, and netted his second goal of the season.

It was the kind of mistake that United has been making for much of this season, and a good reason why they now sit 20 games under .500 – very rare depths in the abyss where only Major League Soccer’s truly worst teams reside. The loss left United winless away from home in the league this season – though they beat MLS teams on the road in both the U.S. Open Cup semifinal (Chicago) and final (RSL).

United’s long, painful league campaign closes at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at RFK Stadium against the Houston Dynamo (NBC).


SKC – Dwyer 2, 7′

DC – DeLeon, yellow, 29′
DC – Jeffrey, yellow, 30′
DC – Kitchen, yellow, 39′
DC – Iapichino, yellow, 87′
KC – Saad, yellow, 93′

Shots:  SKC 8-6 DC
Shots on Goal:  SKC 4-1 DC
Corners:  SKC 4-3 DC
Fouls:  SKC 13-21 DC
Offside:  SKC 1-4 DC
Possession:  SKC 48.6%-51.4% DC

UNITED (3-23-7):  Hamid; Iapichino, Woolard, Kitchen, Korb; Pontius, Neal, Jeffrey, DeLeon (Martin 46′); Silva (De Rosario 63′), Doyle (Seaton 80′).

SPORTING (16-10-7):  Myers, Opara, Besler, Sinovic; Feilhaber (Zusi 46′), Oriol Rosell; Joseph (Olum 58′); Sapong, Dwyer (Bieler 78′), Saad.

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.

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