September 26, 2020

D.C. United Game 6 Recap: United throw away two points at Columbus

For the record, D.C. United is unbeaten in its last four games. But in reality, Saturday night’s 1-1 draw at Columbus features all the satisfaction of moving up two spots in a 40-person line at the DMV. Up a goal and up a man, D.C. United had a 3-on-2 break to put the game away, but Fabian Espindola lost the ball to Crew defender Will Trapp, who then played a perfect cross-field ball for Héctor Jiménez, who blasted a shot past United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to level the match.

The draw put United’s record at 2-2-2 (8 points). D.C. is 2-0-2 in its last four matches, and the result, if taken by just the score only, is a nice improvement from United’s 3-1 loss to Columbus at RFK Stadium earlier this season. But the bottom line is there is no joy in this draw before 11,437 at Crew Stadium, within which United gave up the equalizer while playing against just 10 men after Bernardo Anor was sent off in the 81st minute for a two-footed tackle on D.C. midfielder Perry Kitchen.

You could argue in a variety of debate settings that the Crew should have only had nine players at the time. Earlier, United forward Eddie Johnson was on the ball with nothing but the goalkeeper between him and the goal before being taken down by Giancarlo Gonzalez. What should have been a red card for a foul by the last defender and denial of a goalscoring opportunity was somehow deemed just a yellow card offense by referee Juan Guzman. United wasted the strong free kick opportunity, with Nick DeLeon blasting the ball to somewhere near Bowling Green.

Later, on a quick counter attack, United had a perfect 3-on-2 situation similar to what had led to their goal in the first half. On the first occasion, DeLeon dished left for Espindola, who beat Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark to give D.C. the lead in the 31st minute. It was a beautiful goal and one that reminds fans that this team is in much better shape than last year’s outfit.

But then in a flash, everyone was also reminded of the disaster that was the 2013 season when on the verge of second-half stoppage time, Espindola was again played the ball on the left side of a 3-on-2, but lost it to Trapp. Before United could recover, Trapp played his long ball to Jiménez and what should have been a victory vanished into a draw. One point instead of three. It’s too early in the season to judge how pivotal that change in result will be, but given the manpower advantage and the chances to put the game away on breaks, United needed to get a victory Saturday and instead showed that they still don’t quite know how to be a winner yet. The whole sequence that led to Columbus’ goal was as ugly as United’s goal was beautiful.

United still has not gotten a goal from Johnson this season, who had one shot that was on target. That he is not getting more opportunities has to be worrying for United fans (and management), but at times he got on the ball and made runs and was by himself in the attack. At others, he had to come back to midfield to get on the ball and that’s not going to do the attack any good. United’s overall play was better tonight, with short, quick passes and somewhat better defending. The Crew had just two shots on target, but the second was a killer and probably never should have occurred.

United will try to extend its unbeaten streak and put another one in the win column next Saturday at home against FC Dallas.

NOTES:  In an oddity, as of the end of the United match, all five completed MLS games on the day had been draws. … United hasn’t beaten Columbus since October 2012 (four games). … Espindola’s goal was his second of the season, while DeLeon’s assist was his second. … Johnson played 76 minutes before being subbed off for Conor Doyle. … The Crew Stadium scoreboard did not catch fire.

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

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