November 13, 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 Game 29 Recap: Roller-coaster night in Chicago ends with a draw

SILVA SCORES TWICE AS UNITED SHARE POINTS IN SIX-GOAL THRILLER

How you look at D.C. United’s 3-3 draw at the Chicago Fire Saturday night is a matter of perspective. Either you are happy D.C. rallied from 2-0 down to at least get a point, or you are disappointed that United let a 3-2 lead slip away, only earning one point instead of three. The good news is that the tie moved United’s record to 14-9-6, good for 48 points and a three-point lead on Sporting Kansas City at the top of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. A tie was the usual for the Fire, who are 5-7-16 (31 points) this season.

Early on, this looked like the kind of performance United would regret were it to not finish first in the East. Quincy Amarikwa put the Fire ahead in the 16th minute, and Chicago went two clear 16 minutes later when United were whistled for a penalty and Jeff Larentowicz converted. At that point, any resulting blowout would have been believable, given how United was playing. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 3 Recap: Progress made but United fails to finish Fire

Javier Espindola and Perry Kitchen scored D.C. United’s first goals of the 2014 Major League Soccer season, but a late defensive lapse cost the home team as United played to a 2-2 tie against the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Washington. The draw marks United’s first point in the standings this season, with the team’s record now standing at 0-2-1. Chicago, who got goals from Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Quincy Amarikwa to begin and end the scoring, is now 0-1-3.

While the draw and goals are encouraging for United, Amarikwa’s goal in the 82nd minute that erased United’s 2-1 lead cost D.C. the chance to break what is now a 15-game winless streak in the league dating back to last August. United had done a lot right prior to that. The attack looked more coordinated Saturday than in either of the club’s first two matches this year, and carried a good bit of the play through the first half. But it wasn’t until Hurtado scored for the first time in five years after a Chicago corner kick that D.C. was able to wake up and find the back of the net for the first time all season. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 31 Recap: Open Cup champs lose big in league return

Two first-half goals in rapid succession gave the Chicago Fire a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as D.C. United fell back to its old ways upon returning to Major League Soccer play with a 3-0 loss before 13,949 at RFK Stadium Friday night. United fell to 3-22-6 (15 points) with the loss, and still need 1 point to avoid being the worst team in MLS history (by points per game). The loss confirmed that United will finish dead last in the 19-team league this season.

The win was critical for the Fire, as the three points took Chicago into fifth place in MLS’ Eastern Conference, the last playoff spot. The Fire are 12-12-7 (43 points) with three matches to play. Chicago leads the Philadelphia Union by one point for the final playoff position, but the Union have one game in hand. Philadelphia hosts Toronto FC tonight. [Read more…]

D.C. United Analysis: Victorious Cup run should be new start, not an end

It will be a few days before the great feeling from D.C. United winning the 2013 U.S. Open Cup with a 1-0 victory at Real Salt Lake on Tuesday night wears off. Certainly, those in attendance at RFK Stadium Friday night when United returns to Major League Soccer play against the Chicago Fire will be in the mood to celebrate.

And rightfully so. For whatever struggles United has had in the league (and the world knows they have been many), putting together a five-match Cup run to win a trophy is never easy, no matter how good the team. Picked individually, maybe someone with a cynical mind would say a certain result along the way might have been a fluke. Such a person could even make that argument right at the very beginning, when United played at the Richmond Kickers – a club two levels below them and that helps develop young United players – and D.C. needed penalties to advance after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 20 Recap: Fire strike early, rout United, 4-1

It took less than 2 minutes for D.C. United to fall behind the Chicago Fire – just less than 12 minutes to trail 2-0. By halftime, United trailed, 3-0, and it was 4-0 before there was any kind of response, a nice Luis Silva strike from distance. But as nice as that goal was (and it was a beauty), it was way too little, way too late as the Fire demolished United, 4-1, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

United fell to 2-14-4 (10 points) with the loss, still the worst record among 19 clubs in Major League Soccer. The Fire improved to 7-9-3 (24 points). [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 13 Recap: United lose 2-0 at Chicago; winless streak reaches 11

Make it 10 losses in 13 matches for D.C. United. Nothing changed Sunday afternoon in United’s disastrous 2013 Major League Soccer season, as Nick DeLeon was credited with a first-half own goal, and newly-acquired Fire forward Mike Magee scored his first goal for his new team late in the second half in Chicago’s 2-0 win before 14,546 at Toyota Park. The Fire improved to 3-7-2 (11 points) with the win.

United, now 1-10-2, have still only scored six goals on the season, but most discouraging about this loss is that entering today’s match, the Fire weren’t much more potent than United, having scored seven goals in 11 matches. United helped the Fire with the DeLeon own goal, an unlucky deflection created by some porous defense inside the penalty area. The Fire then added one of their own to the tally, when Magee finished a counterattack and a nice feed from Patrick Nyarko to complete the scoring. Former United player Maicon Santos was credited with the second assist on Magee’s goal.

Worse for United, next week D.C. plays at New England, after the Revolution demolished the Los Angeles Galaxy today, 5-0.

There were few bright spots on a day that saw United’s winless streak reach 11 matches. United hasn’t won since March 9 against Real Salt Lake, a span of nearly three months. Defender Conor Shanosky, 21, earned his first MLS start by appearing in the United defense, with James Riley, Daniel. Woolard, and Chris Korb. Shanosky played 120 minutes in United’s 0-0 draw at the Richmond Kickers on Tuesday in the US Open Cup, where United eventually advanced to the next round on penalties. Shanosky was replaced by Sainey Nyassi after 64 minutes.

When called upon, goalkeeper Joe Willis made a strong save in the first half, diving to his right at the post to keep United in the match at that point, down 1-0. The Fire didn’t test him often, getting just three shots on goal, but that was three more than United had on a day where the black-and-red once again lacked ideas and didn’t recognize opportunities in front of them.

Before Magee’s goal put the game away, there were two situations where United players had plenty of open space and gave the ball away. On the first, John Thorrington, a second-half substitute for Dwayne De Rosario who was making his first appearance since a long injury absence, had open space and turned the ball over to two Fire defenders. Minutes later, Rafael, another substitute, had open space in front of him and instead dribbled left, into a Fire defender, and the United build up ended.

The Fire had no such issues, Nyarko especially taking advantage of whatever space was given, and the Fire for the most part were quicker than United in many situations, keeping control of the game despite only having less than 40 percent of the possession. Nyarko got free to take a pass on the right wing from Santos in the 85th minute. He then fired a lead ball left and diagonally to Magee, who beat the rest of the United defense and finished past Willis.

There was no way back from that for United, who now must try and take down an on-form Revolution team next Saturday away from home, where United hasn’t won all year, if this long winless streak is to end before reaching its three-month anniversary.

United fell behind in the first half, when D.C. failed to successfully defend a Chicago free kick from the left of Willis. Joel Lindpere took the free kick and it bounced well short of the goal, in a mass of one Fire and two United players. The ball somehow got past all of them, with neither United player able to clear it. Chicago’s Jeff Larentowicz appeared to be on target to get a shot, but United midfielder Perry Kitchen got a touch on the ball back toward the goal, but it then deflected off teammate Nick DeLeon, high and over Willis into the net.

The goal was similar to others United have given up this year, where free kicks and/or corner kicks are played into the penalty area and either are not cleared effectively, or players are in the wrong position to mark attackers, and one or two bad bounces later, the ball is in United’s net.

United almost equalized in the first half when Dwayne De Rosario hit the crossbar on a shot from distance. Carlos Ruiz, in the starting lineup for just the second time in league play this season, tried a long chip shot later in the first half to catch Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson off his line, but missed the net. Ruiz had two shots in the match, and United eight total, but none were officially on target, despite De Rosario’s shot bouncing off the crossbar.

For the season, United are on pace for 13 points and 16 goals scored. United are now 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, sitting last with 5 points. With its win today over the Galaxy, New England is now tied with the Philadelphia Union for the fifth and last playoff berth in the East.

Ed Morgans is a Contributor to District Sports Page, covering D.C. United. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

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