December 16, 2019

D.C. United Game 30 Recap: November soccer close to reality after win over Philadelphia

SILVA’S 11TH GOAL OF SEASON ENOUGH SATURDAY VS. UNION

Everything is right there now, so tantalizingly out of reach for D.C. United. A playoff spot is just 5 points away (or less if Toronto FC drops points), and a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference is just seven points away (at the most, depending on other results). All this is possible now after United defeated the Philadelphia Union, 1-0, Saturday before 19,478 at RFK Stadium. United improved to 15-9-6 (51 points) while Philly dropped to 9-10-11 (38).

Such thoughts a year ago at this time would have been laughed at heartily. But a remodeled roster has allowed head coach Ben Olsen (he of the newly-minted extended contract) to lead United from Major League Soccer doormats to a team to be reckoned with in the race for MLS Cup. But beyond the new players, Luis Silva perhaps embodies the improvement in this side over a year ago, and it was his career-high 11th goal of the season that was the difference Saturday. [Read more…]

D.C. United CONCACAF Champions League Game 2 Recap: Espindola scores twice in key away win

UNITED ON VERGE OF ADVANCING OUT OF CCL GROUP STAGE

Fabian Espindola last made news in Major League Soccer for being on the receiving end of a dubious (yet upheld by the league) red card in a 1-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls last week. But while Espindola will miss an MLS match due to New York midfielder Dax McCarty running into the side of Espindola’s boot, United’s leading scorer was available and spectacular in United’s 2-1 win at Waterhouse FC Tuesday night in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The win by United at Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica, lifted the club to 2-0 in the group stage, both wins over Waterhouse. United beat the Jamaican side, 1-0, at RFK Stadium on August 20. With six points, United is tied with Waterhouse FC for the lead in the three-team group, as Waterhouse has already beaten Tauro FC (Panama City) twice. United need only a point from two upcoming matches with Tauro (Sept. 24 at home; Oct. 21 away) to clinch Group 4. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 28 Recap: Angry United left seeing red after loss at New York

ESPINDOLA SENT OFF; SAM SCORES LATE AS RED BULLS NIP UNITED

Already without the injured Chris Rolfe and the concussed Eddie Johnson, D.C. United’s mission to earn a positive result at New York Wednesday night got even more difficult when leading scorer Fabian Espindola was sent off by referee Mark Geiger for a high kick. United held on in a scoreless match until the 90th minute, when Lloyd Sam scored to give New York a 1-0 win. United fell to 14-9-5 (47 points), but remain five points up on Sporting Kansas City for first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. New York improved to 9-8-10 (37 points).

A match which the Red Bulls were edging for possession and some chances swung in their favor significantly in the 32nd minute when Espindola went to a play a bouncing ball near midfield, as New York midfielder Dax McCarty rushed in. Espindola’s boot, McCarty’s midsection, and the ball all met and McCarty went down holding his stomach. Geiger sent off Espindola immediately for what he deemed a “serious foul.” It did not appear as if Espindola’s studs caught McCarty, who stayed in the match and was not seen being treated for a cut. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 27 Recap: United build Eastern lead with point at Vancouver

HAMID SAVES THREE AS UNITED BATTLES TO DEADLOCK AT WHITECAPS

With midfielder Chris Rolfe lost to an arm injury and forward Eddie Johnson out due to concussion symptoms, it was fair to have somewhat lower expectations as D.C. United visited the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night. But United held firm, kept a clean sheet, and got out of western Canada with a scoreless tie before 18,116 at BC Place. The result sets United’s record at 14-8-5 (47 points), good enough for a five-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference over Sporting Kansas City, which lost to New York Saturday, 2-1. Vancouver is 7-6-13 (34 points).

The revamped attack featured Luis Silva and Fabian Espindola leading the offense, with David Estrada slipping into the open midfield spot. United didn’t create many chances, though Espindola gave the Vancouver defense plenty of problems and sent one close chance over the bar. Vancouver had a great chance on Kendall Waston’s header on 30 minutes, but he narrowly missed just wide to United goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s left post. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 24 Recap: United emphatically takes first place in the East & MLS

THREE FIRST-HALF GOALS SEND UNITED PAST SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Entering Saturday’s Major League Soccer match at Sporting Kansas City, the hosts held a two-point lead on D.C. United at the top of the Eastern Conference. By the final whistle, however, there was no doubt who was atop the East. First-half goals by Chris Rolfe, Fabian Espindola, and Perry Kitchen did the job in a 3-0 rout. United improved to 13-7-4 (43 points), one point better than SKC (12-7-6, 42) for first in the East.

The onslaught was quick and followed a familiar pattern, as it was Sporting that carried a decent bit of the play early. But whether caused by offside traps gone horribly wrong, a lack of attention by SKC defenders, or both, United were gifted multiple open opportunities to hit on the counter and the black-and-red didn’t make any mistakes. [Read more…]

D.C. United: Trio shines in peppy MLS All-Star victory over Bayern Munich

In a match that was full of Pep (Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, that is), the three D.C. United players who were named to the MLS All-Star team played the entire second half. That 45 minutes saw the MLS All-Stars erase a 1-0 deficit to beat the German champions, 2-1, thanks to goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls) and Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy). Defenders Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell, as well as goalkeeper Bill Hamid (who earned the win), were part of 11 new MLS players who started the second half.

Boswell got the second assist on the All-Stars’ opening goal in the 51st minute. The United defender played a long ball forward up the middle of the field that was flicked on by Erick Torres (Chivas USA). That touch carried it about 25 yards from the Bayern Munich goal, where Wright-Phillips ran on to it, took one touch, then blasted a left-footed shot to the upper far corner past goalkeeper Tom Starke. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 21 Recap: One mistake costs United big in loss at Houston

One split-second of indecision, one small moment where a player didn’t do the right thing, one little bit of miscommunication – that was all it took Sunday night for D.C. United to give away a point in Houston, as the club lost, 1-0, to the Dynamo. Will Bruin scored the winner after a back header by stand-in D.C. defender Taylor Kemp was mishandled by rookie center back Steve Birnbaum, causing goalkeeper Bill Hamid to leave his line. When neither of them collected the ball, Omar Cumming centered to Bruin, he had an open net to drop United to 11-6-4 (37 points) on the season. Houston won for the first time in nine matches and improved to 6-11-4 (22 points).

United, as so often happens in Houston, where the club has never won, didn’t get much of the ball and was chasing the game all evening. Houston put up 20 shot attempts to United’s seven, played 21 crosses to D.C.’s 10, and had eight corners to just two for United. Statistically, the game was a blowout. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 20 Recap: United romp past Toronto to continue streak

D.C. United improved to 4-1 without injured leading scorer Fabian Espindola, and 11-5-4 (37 points) overall with a resounding 3-0 thumping of Toronto FC (7-7-5, 29) before 16,171 at RFK Stadium. United, second place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and winners of four straight, brushed aside the conference’s third-place team with ease thanks to goals from Eddie Johnson and Chris Rolfe, then a TFC own goal set up by some terrific work by D.C. midfielder Nick DeLeon.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make a couple quality saves among the eight he totaled, but for the most part, D.C. were better on the ball, did more advanced work off the ball, and United’s defense were somewhat of a brick wall compared to that of TFC. With space open on all sides of the field, it was only a matter of time before United, even without the seven goals and eight assists from Espindola in the lineup, made Toronto pay.

The onslaught began in the eighth minute, when for the first time this season, Johnson scored from open play, crashing home a header from the middle of the penalty area off a perfect Perry Kitchen cross. Johnson has now scored in three straight games, but the other two came from penalty kicks and Johnson’s opening goal of the campaign was a header from a corner kick.

Kitchen, meanwhile, was the best American midfielder on the field, even with U.S. National Team stalwart Michael Bradley in the 11 for Toronto. The assist was his second of the season to go with three goals, and his defensive work was on point as always.

Chris Rolfe made it 2-0 in the 59th minute, converting on a 1-0n-1 chance with Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik after DeLeon was felled in the penalty area. Referee Chris Penso played advantage and Rolfe finished the chance neatly.

DeLeon was also involved in the third goal, opening up space for himself in the box after first eluding Justin Morrow, then dispensing of would-be defender Nick Hagglund. His shot was saved by Bendik, but then it was knocked into the net by a recovering Hagglund.

Since losing Espindola, United have outscored its opponents, 10-4. United looks to continue the surge Sunday at the Houston Dynamo (8 p.m., CSN).

THE GOOD: A lot to choose from. But DeLeon’s moves both on his goal and in the midfield to create space and hold possession were of high quality.

THE BAD: Johnson, Davy Arnaud, and Chris Korb were all cautioned. But really, that’s being picky. Nothing to complain about over tonight’s performance.

THE UGLY: This was Hagglund’s second straight game vs. United that went really poorly. Good for United, but given TFC’s appetite for success by bringing in guys like Bradley and Jermain Defoe, the defense (28 goals allowed) has to be shored up for the Reds to be a serious MLS Cup contender.

  • The club announced the acquisition of defender Kofi Opare, via trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy. According to the club, the Galaxy also sent United its second-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The Galaxy move up to United’s spot in the allocation order. Opare will provide defensive depth which is needed since center back Jeff Parke remains out injured, though rookie Steve Birnbaum (90 minutes tonight) is doing well in his absence.Opare is a 23-year-old Canadian defender. He had five starts in his six appearances for the Galaxy this season. Opare made six appearances (all starts) for Los Angeles in 2013, his rookie season. Opare played his college soccer at the University of Michigan.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. He covered United for The Journal Newspapers from 1997-2002. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

D.C. United Game 19 Recap: United within a point of first place

JOHNSON CONVERTS ANOTHER PK IN 3-1 D.C. VICTORY OVER CHIVAS USA

D.C. United won its third straight match and moved within one point of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City with a 3-1 win Sunday night over Chivas USA before 13,732 at RFK Stadium. United improved to 10-5-4 on the season (34 points), while Chivas USA failed to help its playoff chances and sit 6-8-5 (23 points), four points out of a playoff spot in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.

United were both boosted and burned by the penalty spot, as Eddie Johnson scored from 12 yards in the 25th minute for the opening goal of the match, and the lone Chivas USA strike also came from the spot, converted by Erick Torres in the 84th minute, but by that time the match was well in hand. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 18 Recap: Hamid saves, saves, and saves again in win at San Jose

Ideally, D.C. United shouldn’t need goalkeeper Bill Hamid to stand on his head or make 10-bell saves, or play as if he is a super goalkeeping being from another planet. There should be enough done defensively and with possession in the attack such that Hamid isn’t a team-saving behemoth with all the work to himself to do.

However, on nights such as Friday and in times such as the second half of United’s 2-1 win at San Jose, it’s nice to know that if Hamid indeed has to be all those things, he can. Hamid made seven saves (according to MLS, he was credited with nine during the NBCSN broadcast), many of the spectacular variety, as D.C. built a 2-0 first-half lead, saw it sliced to one before halftime, then hung on for dear life for most of the final 45 minutes. The away win was United’s third straight, and leaves the club 9-5-4 (31 points) in the standings and still alone in first place atop Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. [Read more…]

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