August 20, 2019

D.C. United Game 33 Recap: United clinches top seed in East by beating Fire

GOALS BY PONTIUS, JOHNSON CAP UNITED’S SURGE FROM WORST TO FIRST

Last season at this time, some wondered if D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen was about to be fired. This year, Olsen, his team, and 20,162 fans spent the minutes after United’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire Saturday night watching fireworks high above RFK Stadium. Now 17-9-7, United’s 58 points clinch the top seed in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference playoffs a year after United went 3-24-7 in its worst season ever.

Given the club’s roster reformation in the offseason, improvement isn’t a surprise. There was never any way United was going to be that bad again given the players who were brought in. They could win more than three games by accident. But D.C.’s success this season has been far from accidental, as fans who had to suffer a year ago watching Lionard Pajoy wander into previously unexplored frontiers of offside while Own Goal led the team in scoring, last night watched United go unbeaten in five straight games and dispatch the Fire (5-10-18, 33 points), who were playing out the string. [Read more…]

D.C. United News: Luis Silva’s career year interrupted by injury

D.C. United announced via its Twitter feed this morning that midfielder/forward Luis Silva suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Houston, one that will keep him out for “4-6 weeks.” Silva is United’s leading scorer with 11 goals and is having by far the best season of his Major League Soccer career. Silva’s work combining with Fabian Espindola and until recently, Chris Rolfe (who is also out injured), has revitalized United’s attack and been one of the key factors in the team going from last place a year ago to within one point of clinching home-field advantage throughout this season’s Eastern Conference playoffs.

Silva left Sunday’s match in the 30th minute and was replaced by Eddie Johnson. The substitution came a few minutes after play had resumed following a long weather delay.

Beyond just the loss of Silva, who has produced 11 goals and four assists in 27 appearances (22 starts) this season, the absence of both Silva and Rolfe creates a lineup headache for United head coach Ben Olsen. Olsen had found solid roles for players like Silva, Espindola, Rolfe, and Johnson, and all seemed to be doing well in those spots. Johnson’s work as a substitute to help United keep control of games and sometimes extend leads was seen again on Sunday, when he and Espindola keyed a late attack that eventually led to Johnson’s goal that put the game away, giving United its first-ever win in Houston. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 31 Recap: United’s epic turnaround continues as D.C. clinches playoff spot

SCORELESS DRAW VS. SPORTING KANSAS CITY SENDS UNITED INTO POSTSEASON

On this night, a draw will feel just fine for D.C. United. A 0-0 tie against visiting Sporting Kansas City before nearly 20,000 in the rain at RFK Stadium lifted United’s record to 15-9-7, and the 52 points are enough for D.C. to grab one of Major League Soccer’s five Eastern Conference playoff berths. Sporting Kansas City now stands 13-11-7 (46 points), remaining six points behind leaders United in the East.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid made a couple nice saves and three overall in posting his career-high 10th shutout of the season and 30th of his MLS career. D.C. had chances to break the deadlock, but multiple Fabian Espindola shots went wide, and mid-air contact on Chris Pontius in the SKC penalty area did not result in a spot kick in the judgment of referee Hilario Grajeda. Davy Arnaud was cautioned for United, and will be suspended for a game upon his next yellow card. [Read more…]

Espindola injury a major setback for D.C. United

D.C. United announced on its website Tuesday morning that forward Fabian Espindola, the offensive revelation that has allowed the club to go from worst to first early this Major League Soccer season, will miss approximately six weeks with a knee injury suffered against Montreal on June 11.

The club stated that Espindola suffered a strained MCL from a tackle. Espindola, who had three assists in the 4-2 win at Montreal, led the club with seven goals and eight assists. The eight assists were already a career high, and Espindola was on pace to smash his career high in goals (10), as well.

[Read more…]

D.C. United Game 15 Recap: Silva’s trick is United’s treat in 4-2 win at Montreal

In a first half that at times featured all the defensive intensity of an MLS All-Star Media Game, D.C. United got the better of the proceedings thanks to a hat trick from Luis Silva and a goal by Nick DeLeon, beating the Montreal Impact, 4-2, Wednesday night. All six goals were scored in the opening 45 minutes. United moved into sole possession of first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference with the win, on a 7-4-4 (25 points) record. The team was dead last in MLS last season at 3-24-7 (16 points).

Silva had never had a two-goal game with United, let alone a hat trick. But the midfielder who was acquired from Toronto FC last season started the first half on its crazy path just 6 minutes in. After some nice possession work, Chris Rolfe got on the ball at the edge of the attacking third and found Fabian Espindola ahead to his right, who quickly located Silva cutting between two Montreal defenders. The pass (despite a deflection) was perfect and Silva hit a right-footed shot low and past Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins to make it 1-0. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 13 Preview: Defending MLS Cup champs visit RFK tonight

D.C. United looks to make up ground in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference tonight when Sporting Kansas City comes to RFK for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcast locally on CSN. Given the combination of United forward Eddie Johnson having his red card from last week rescinded, and the lack of availability for a couple key Sporting Kansas City players, United are presented with a decent chance to get all three points and move to 6-4-3 on the season.

United comes into tonight’s match off a 2-1 loss at Eastern leaders New England last week. D.C. sit five points behind the Revolution in the race for first place, and one point back of SKC for second. United are 4-0-2 in the last six home matches following a season-opening loss to the Columbus Crew. Sporting Kansas City is 2-3 away from home in 2014. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 12 Recap: United loses game, Eddie Johnson at New England

Any worries about how D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen was going to handle playing the trio of Eddie Johnson, Fabian Espindola, and Chris Rolfe were answered in emphatic and distasteful fashion Saturday night, as United lost at the New England Revolution, 2-1. Johnson started up front, with Espindola on the bench and Rolfe unavailable, but was sent off late in the game after he shoved Kelyn Rowe from behind than perhaps thought about kicking out at the fallen Revs player.

That was enough for head referee Juan Guzman to give Johnson a straight red, even though the United forward appeared to think better of his action before actually making any contact (see the incident here). United had tied the game earlier in the second half, as a nice cross from the left by Cristian Fernandez was met by leading scorer Espindola for his sixth goal of the year. But Diego Fagundez scored 4 minutes later to decide the match. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 10 Recap: United only manage draw vs. struggling Montreal

On the day of the Preakness Stakes, Eddie Johnson found his finishing touch just before the wire, but it was only good enough to allow D.C. United a dead heat with the Montreal Impact as the clubs shared the points in a 1-1 draw before 14,106 at RFK Stadium. United is now 4-3-3 (15 points) on the 2014 Major League Soccer season. Montreal is 1-5-4 (7 points) and in last place in the Eastern Conference.

United drew level in the 84th minute as the season-long scoreless streak for Johnson finally came to an end with a decisive header into the bottom corner of the net from a Fabian Espindola cross. Johnson’s goal was a decent end to what had been a bad week, as Johnson was left off the 30-man preliminary U.S. roster for the upcoming World Cup. [Read more…]

D.C. United Analysis: First-quarter evaluation, part 5 – Management

It raised a few eyebrows around Washington when it was announced in the offseason that both D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper and head coach Ben Olsen were going to remain in their jobs after the club went an atrocious 3-24-7 in 2013, one of the worst Major League Soccer seasons ever recorded.

After an offseason filled with almost as many transactions as United scored goals in the league last year (22), the roster was remade through a variety of means. It’s far too early to judge Kasper and Olsen’s success in changing the team. When a club only wins three of 34 games one season, it’s not necessarily the biggest feather in anyone’s cap when that club surpasses its win total the next season, even when it does so in nine matches. [Read more…]

D.C. United Analysis: First-quarter evaluation, part 4 – Forwards

Looking at the performance of D.C. United’s forwards is an exercise of examining extremes. On one hand, the one that United fans would rather focus on right now, there’s Fabian Espindola, the offseason acquisition who has four goals and three assists in nine matches. On the other, of course, is Eddie Johnson, the much more notable and expensive offseason acquisition, who has yet to score at all.

The overall performance of the position so far during United’s 4-3-2 start to the 2014 Major League Soccer season is somewhere in the middle. But it should be noted that Espindola already has more league goals this year than any United player had for all of the 2013 season. Espindola’s production (his three assists are tied with Nick DeLeon for the team lead), being involved somehow in seven of the 13 goals United has scored this season (not to mention involvement in scoring plays later counted as own goals), hasn’t necessarily masked Johnson’s struggles, but it has allowed United to succeed somewhat so far despite them. [Read more…]

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