February 24, 2020

D.C. United GAME 5 RECAP: Road woes continue as United fall late at Kansas City

Claudio Bieler scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute to lift Sporting Kansas City to a 1-0 victory over D.C. United at Sporting Park. United fell to 1-3-1 (4 points) on the season. Kansas City improved to 3-1-2 (11 points), as the top of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference continues to distance itself from United.

The winning goal started with United giving away possession deep in its defensive third, to goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s right. SKC substitute Soony Saad took the ball away from Marcos Sanchez, but didn’t appear threatening given his proximity to the end line and combined with the fact that Marcelo Saragosa was also on the scene to defend.

Saad, however, neatly worked the ball past Saragosa, causing him to fall over in the process, while also keeping the ball in play. Free to make a cross, he sent the ball back toward the center of the penalty area, where Bieler met it and beat Hamid with a well-placed, well-hit strike to Hamid’s left, toward the upper corner. It was Bieler’s fourth goal of the season – double that of United as a team in 2013.

Offensively, United once again created little in an away match. With just two shots on goal in two road games prior to tonight, United added just one to that total – a low effort off a free kick in the second half that was easily collected by Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. United haven’t scored away from home this season. For the campaign, United have just 14 shots on goal (2.67 per game).

Lionard Pajoy and Rafael started up front for United, the authors of the two United goals, respectively, for the season. Meanwhile, midfielder Dwayne De Rosario (injury) missed his third match of the season. Pajoy was caught offside twice and failed to put his only shot on goal – a nice chance in the first half where he worked between defenders in the penalty area close to the Kansas City goal, creating an opening, but missed wide without forcing Nielsen to make a save. After Rafael was subbed off, Carlos Ruiz eventually came on for about 20 minutes of time and had the lone shot on goal, which was saved by Nielsen. Nielsen, who has only allowed three goals this season, earned his fourth shutout in tonight’s win.

Sporting Kansas City wasn’t that much more effective offensively either, but their possession seemed more dangerous and got farther forward more consistently than did that of United. SKC had just two shots on goal, with Bieler’s strike being both the last and most decisive.

With just three shots on goal and very little in the way of near misses or spectacular plays, this wasn’t a match that will appear on the league’s Greatest Matches DVD at year’s end. But for the second straight season, Sporting Kansas City scored a late goal to beat United by a 1-0 score. Last year in United’s home opener at RFK Stadium, a second-half stoppage time goal gave SKC the victory – United’s last league home loss until a 2-1 defeat by Columbus two weeks ago that ended a 19-match home unbeaten streak.

United fell victim to such heroics again tonight, while remaining winless in three matches. United return home next Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff against the rival New York Red Bulls (1-2-2, 5 points). The teams played a scoreless draw at Red Bull Arena in the third week of the season.

NOTES: Sporting Kansas City had nearly 60 percent of possession. … In total shots, SKC had a 13-4 edge over United, but were woeful at putting them on target (2-for-13, 15 percent). … Hamid, Rafael, and Dejan Jakovic were cautioned by head referee Armando Villarreal. United has received seven yellow cards in five matches (and no red cards), to seven different players. … The announced attendance was 18,988. … According to MLS stats, United were credited with just two “open-field crosses.” SKC had 22.

Ed Morgans is a Contributor to District Sports Page, covering D.C. United. Follow him on Twitter for in-game commentary and story notifications at @edmorgans.

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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