October 19, 2019

D.C. United Game 34 Recap: United’s MLS season ends in fitting fashion

Mercifully, D.C. United’s 2013 Major League Soccer season is over.

It ended in the same fashion as so many other matches did this year, with a United loss – this one to Houston, 2-1, before 13,731 at RFK Stadium. The win clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot for the Dynamo. The loss left United 3-24-7 on the season. The three wins are the fewest of any club in MLS’ 18 seasons. The 24 losses are tied for second most with the 1999 Kansas City Wizards – and one behind the 1999 New York/New Jersey MetroStars (25).

Oscar Boniek Garcia and Giles Barnes scored the goals for Houston, who finished the regular season 14-11-9 (51 points). United’s goal came off the head of Kyle Porter – a third goal for him this MLS season that was enough to tie for the team lead in scoring, along with Luis Silva and Dwayne De Rosario.

United were effective offensively at times in today’s loss, especially defender Chris Korb, who made several forward runs, had one volley denied on a stellar save by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, and set up other chances. United’s goal was the culmination of a nice sequence involving Dwayne De Rosario, Luis Silva, Chris Pontius, and Kyle Porter.

But the game also showcased much of what was wrong with United throughout the 2013 season – porous marking on free kicks, defensive errors that led to either goals or penalties (or both), and the inability to take advantage of situations where United has a significant numerical edge (2-on-0, 3-on-1, etc.).

Houston opened the scoring in the 11th minute from the penalty spot. Barnes created the play, running on the ball into the United penalty area with Ethan White behind, trying to catch up. White made contact with Barnes’ upper body, but wasn’t able to stop him, then made a final lunge which helped Barnes to the ground, drawing the penalty. Garcia hit his penalty hard and low to United goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s left, beating Hamid despite the goalkeeper guessing right on where the kick was going.

Possession had been almost all Dynamo to that point, but instead of the opening goal being the start of a rout, United woke up. Getting more of the ball, United missed a first chance to equalize in the 21st minute when Korb’s volley was knocked away by the left hand of Hall, who sprawled to his left to make the save.

Six minutes later, United built an attack the likes of which any MLS team would be proud.

Entering the Houston third of the field, De Rosario sent a pass to his left ahead for Silva. Silva found Pontius, who took the ball toward the Houston end line to Hall’s right.

Without even trying to square his body to hit the cross, Pontius lofted the ball into the penalty area toward Hall’s back post. There, Porter headed it almost straight down to the ground and bounced it past Hall to draw United level. It was a pleasing sequence to see for United fans, but surely a frustrating one, as well, given how little that kind of play has been seen this season.

But in another plot twist United supporters have seen often this year, United weren’t able to maintain their position until halftime.

In the 39th minute, Houston appeared to have been denied twice of taking the lead when Hamid made back-to-back excellent saves, but on the ensuing corner, United failed to mark Barnes, who rose up at the near post and headed the ball past Hamid to make it 2-1. James Riley and Silva were closest to Barnes, and were between Barnes and the goal. But Barnes rose the highest, and with on one obstructing his view of Brad Davis’ corner kick, he expertly put it away for his 9th goal of the season.

Just prior to the go-ahead goal for Houston, United had two attackers in on Hall, after Porter found Conor Doyle with a lead ball that beat the entire Houston defense. But instead of shooting, Doyle passed to his left for De Rosario, who couldn’t collect it and never got a clear shot.

United were denied another chance to tie the game at 2 early in the second half when referee Armando Villarreal denied penalty shouts after Pontius was tripped up from behind in the area. On the hour, Hamid denied Barnes’ bid to give Houston a 3-1 lead. A better chance came for Houston in the 85th minute, but Kofi Sarkodie’s shot at Hamid’s left post from about 4 yards out was struck into the ground and bounced over the crossbar.

United’s last best chance came when Pontius tried his luck in the final minutes with a free kick high to the far post that Hall caught.

D.C. United now faces a challenging offseason where player acquisitions (and departures) must pay off, and the club’s ownership must either commit to head coach Ben Olsen, or start quickly on finding the right coach to guide the club’s rebuild. It will be a key time in the stadium battle, as well, as opposition to the proposed Buzzard Point project has emerged, and the club’s future hangs in the balance.

The 2014 MLS regular season is likely to start some time in March.

HOUSTON 2-1 UNITED

Goals:
HOU – Garcia 3 (PK), 11′
DC – Porter 3 (Pontius 3, Silva 2), 27′
HOU – Barnes 9 (Davis 9), 39′

Discipline:
HOU – Boswell, yellow, 83′
HOU – Sarkodie, yellow, 87′
DC – Riley, yellow, 93′

Statistics:
Shots:  HOU 18-12 DCU
Shots on Goal:  HOU 6-2 DCU
Corners:  HOU 4-5 DCU
Fouls:  HOU 10-12 DCU
Offside:  HOU 2-3 DCU
Possession:  HOU 42.5%-57.5% DCU

UNITED (3-23-7):  Hamid; Riley, Iapichino, Korb, Woolard; Silva (Nyassi 80′), Jeffrey, Porter (DeLeon 60′), Pontius; Doyle, De Rosario.

HOUSTON (14-11-9): Hall; Sarkodie, Ashe, Brunner, Boswell; Davis, Clark (Carrasco 90′), Garcia, Creavalle; Barnes (Weaver 78′), Bruin (Cummings 88′).

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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