October 23, 2017

D.C. United Game 8 Recap: Fabian Espindola dominant in 2-0 Columbus Crew SC win

D.C. United won their second straight game in Major League Soccer and stretched their unbeaten run to six games thanks to a 2-0 win over Columbus Crew SC before 13,107 fans at RFK Stadium.

Fabian Espindola played a role in both goals, which came in the first half as the home side put themselves on top early and did not let go. The opener came after a Crew SC corner broke down and United countered, with the ball breaking to Chris Rolfe inside his own half. The forward then played a delicious through ball into the path of the rampaging Espindola, who then chipped goalkeeper Steve Clark to notch his first goal of the season.

Espindola also played a big hand in the home side’s second goal, which came just four minutes before the halftime interval. The Argentine swung in a dangerous corner that Clark tried to come for but could not claim. At the back post, Sean Franklin was unmarked and able to sweep home a difficult half-volley into the back of the net to double United’s advantage.

The home side were once again led offensively by Espindola, who is clearly looking to make up for lost time after his six-game ban that he started the season with expired. With United one up, he found himself unmarked in the box from a low cross, but Clark was equal to the task as he came off his line quickly and blocked away the shot.

Nick DeLeon also had two superb chances for United, starting with the game scoreless as he sent a half-volley just over the bar from outside the penalty area. Then, with halftime just around the corner, he latched on to Chris Pontius’ downward header from Bill Hamid’s long goal kick and hammered another shot from distance that sailed just over.

Meanwhile, Columbus looked threatening at times as they dominated possession for long periods, but they were unable to find a final pass to unlock a stellar United defense. Kei Kamara looked handy as the visitors’ lone striker, but he found himself swarmed by the home side’s defenders if he had a sniff of goal in the penalty area. His best chance came in the opening period as he took down a cross and looked to turn and fire, but Kofi Opare was on hand to deflect his attempt to safety.

Justin Meram also saw a volley at the near post go just over the bar before the break, while in the second period Federico Higuaín had a powerful header from long range go wide of Hamid’s post also. Higuaín continued to be an attacking presence for Columbus, but unfortunately his teammates sometimes looked devoid of ideas of how to find him in the best attacking positions.

The visitors continued to have good chances in the second half as United’s defense seemed content to soak up the pressure and break forward in counter attacks, something they looked to use regularly but found themselves unable to produce many telling moments.

Columbus’ best chance of the second half arguably fell to Ethan Finlay, who was unmarked in the box but unable to get his foot on a cross from Kamara. Substitute Kristinn Steindorsson also had a good opportunity after some hesitant United defending and a failure to clear their lines, but his first-time shot to the far post from inside the penalty area was watched wide by Hamid.

With their defense coping well and their attack looking at times a little unconvincing going forward, United were able to continue Luis Silva’s rehabilitation from injury with a substitute appearance in place of Rolfe, while Miguel Aguilar replaced Espindola late on having been dogged in recent weeks by visa issues.

The fulltime whistle signaled another victory for United, and means they now have not lost in 16 games in all competitions, a run that has helped keep them right at the top of the Eastern Conference standings this season. With more home games to come for D.C., they will be hopeful of adding to their points total and maintaining their impressive start to 2015.

Goals
DCU — Fabian Espindola (Chris Rolfe) 15’
DCU — Sean Franklin (Fabian Espindola) 41’

Disciplinary
DCU — Fabian Espindola (caution, encroachment) 71’
DCU — Sean Franklin (caution, time wasting) 90’

Attendance: 13,107

D.C. United XI: Hamid; Franklin, Opare, Boswell, Korb; DeLeon (Farfan 63’), Kitchen, Arnaud, Pontius; Rolfe (Silva 71’), Espindola (Aguilar 86’).
Subs not used: Worra, Kemp, Doyle, Arrieta.

Columbus Crew SC XI: Clark; Grana (Jimenez 65’), Parkhurst, Pogatetz, Francis (Klute HT); Saeid, Tchani, Finlay, Higuain, Meram (Steindorsson HT); Kamara.
Subs not used: Lampson, Wahl, George, Schoenfeld.

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. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 1 Recap: United suffers ugly opening loss

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Of course, if you’re building a city, you might want to at least align some bricks or something on the first day. Such limited progress wasn’t really seen Saturday night at RFK Stadium, as D.C. United were steamrolled at home, 3-0, by the Columbus Crew before 13,540. Federico Higuain scored twice and Jairo Arrieta added the other, as United is now winless in its last 13 Major League Soccer matches going back to last season.

While the talking point for many will be the penalty awarded by replacement referee Andres Pfefferkorn that led to the Crew’s second goal, there is very little reason to think that had the call not been given and the match stayed at 1-0 to Columbus, that United wouldn’t have lost anyway. Much like last year, United were anemic offensively, taking just one shot on goal (from 11 attempts). And that shot was from defender Christian Fernandez. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 1 Preview: For United, it has to get better, right?

For D.C. United players, coaches, management, and fans, it’s finally time to realistically hope that the 2013 Major League Soccer season is just a memory. Sure, it’s worth remembering United’s run in the U.S. Open Cup, which culminated in a 1-0 win at Real Salt Lake that saw United win its 13th major trophy since beginning play in MLS’ inaugural season of 1996.

But 2013 also ended with United having won just three of 34 regular-season matches, so far out of a playoff spot supporters would have needed a telescope to find them. Quick bounce-backs to respectability aren’t necessarily rare in MLS, and to some extent, one can’t even imagine United having a season worse than it did last year, even if there were no changes in personnel since a 2-1 loss to Houston on October 27 put the final touches on a 3-24-7 campaign. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 8 ANALYSIS: After scoreboard fire was extinguished, United doused by Crew

After the glow of fire light,
United lost again, right?
Yet another scoreless night,
In this season filled with fright.
 

That’s where D.C. United’s journey through the 2013 Major League Soccer season has taken us – through eight matches, it’s time to start writing (very amateur) poetry.

With Saturday night’s 3-0 loss at the Columbus Crew, United fell to 1-6-1 (4 points) on the season, worst in the 19-team league that is MLS. United hasn’t won since the second game of the season, a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake that now seems decades ago. D.C. has gone 0-5-1 since, scoring just three times. Perhaps more alarming were the three goals given up in the first half on Saturday (one came from the penalty spot), an indication of just how bad things can be if the offense, already struggling, is joined by a defense that isn’t getting the job done, either. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 8 RECAP: Fire can’t keep Columbus from scorching United

Defensive miscues in the first half and the continued lack of ability to score away from RFK Stadium led to yet another loss by D.C. United, this time by a 3-0 score to the Columbus Crew in front of 14,090 at Crew Stadium. United fell to 1-6-1 (4 points) with the loss, and haven’t won now in six matches. The Crew improved to 3-2-3 (12 points). United remain last in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.

Dominic Oduro (his fourth of the season), Josh Williams (third), and Federico Higuain (his second, scored from the penalty spot) provided the goals for Columbus, all in the first half. A first half which was delayed nearly an hour by a fire that broke out in the top of the Crew Stadium scoreboard. In a statement, Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers said there were no injuries in the fire, which did not spread beyond the scoreboard.

Once the game started, however, it was a familiar story for United, who saw various defensive errors lead to Crew goals, a goal that United scored waived off for an apparent offside that on video review doesn’t exist, and an attack that while it created several opportunities, couldn’t break through and find a goal. United have only scored four goals in eight matches this season, none of which have come away from home. By contrast, the Crew have now scored 12 goals this season and Oduro has four by himself.

By the end of the first half, the Crew had three shots on goal and had scored on all of them. The first damage (other than that to the scoreboard) came in the 15th minute when Oduro opened the scoring. Jairo Arrieta crossed into the box from deep to United goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s right. Oduro met it with a solid shot to make it 1-0. Arrieta had started the play when he got on the ball behind the United defense shortly after a Crew goal kick.

United equalized in the 23rd minute through Perry Kitchen, but the goal was waived off either due to offside or a foul on Kitchen. Trouble was, Kitchen wasn’t one of the United players in offside position on the play. United had what appeared to be a legitimate goal waived off for offside in a 2-1 loss vs. Columbus at RFK Stadium earlier in the season. United head coach Ben Olsen appeared to be staring in disbelief at the referee’s assistant following the call, and the video of the play on the MLS website (as of this writing) was titled, “DC has a goal disallowed for offside.”

As this season has gone, it was no surprise then that three minutes later, Williams scored to make it 2-0. Higuain took a corner kick from Hamid’s left side. Williams hit a right-footed, one-hopper that eluded Hamid to his left. Hamid got a hand on it, but not enough to keep it out.

It appeared United would be able to go into halftime with a 2-0 deficit, but that changed in stoppage time when Arrieta was fouled in the penalty area by Brandon McDonald, giving the Crew a penalty kick. Higuain buried the chance from the spot to make it 3-0 just before intermission.

United forced Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to make several saves in the second half, but he handled them all cleanly, not allowing any dangerous rebounds and not allowing United to break its scoring drought on the road this season. Lionard Pajoy hit the crossbar with a free kick in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. D.C. outshot Columbus, 21-7, including 6-3 in shots on goal, but it wasn’t good enough on this night. One on which United played without midfielders Nick DeLeon and Chris Pontius due to injury.

United is off next weekend. The club returns to action on Wednesday, May 8, at home against the Houston Dynamo. United lost the 2013 season opener at Houston, 2-0.

D.C. United GAME 4 ANALYSIS: Home loss ends streak, raises questions

“It’s OK, it was a road game. They’ll be fine.”

This thought probably went through some people’s heads after D.C. United lost to the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, in the season opener. After all, it’s tough for most teams to win away form home in Major League Soccer (MLS), the Dynamo don’t lose at home, and no one is right to panic after one blemish on a 34-game slate. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 4 RECAP: Crew halt United’s home unbeaten streak at 19

D.C. United’s 19-match home unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) play came to an end Saturday afternoon as the Columbus Crew won, 2-1, in an entertaining affair that saw a little bit of everything. Great goals, fantastic saves, curious officiating, this one had it all. But in the end, the majority of it didn’t go United’s way.

United slipped to 1-2-1 on the season (4 points), while the Crew improved to 2-1-1 (7 points). United hadn’t lost a league match at home since the 2012 season opener, when Sporting Kansas City scored a goal in second-half stoppage time to gain a 1-0 victory.

It was Ben Speas’ strike in the 58th minute that proved to be the game-winner. On a Columbus corner, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid knocked away the kick, taken by Crew forward Federico Higuain. The rebound was met by Speas right at the 18, and his low shot eluded Hamid to the goalkeeper’s left, making it 2-1. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 3 ANALYSIS: United must pack greater punch for the road

With three matches gone now in the 2013 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, D.C. United has played twice on the road, failing to score a goal in either contest. On the bright side, United still have managed 1 point from the two trips, thanks to sharp goalkeeper Bill Hamid and the friendly neighborhood crossbar in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at the New York Red Bulls.

United struck for just two shots on goal against the Red Bulls, one each by Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario. Granted, that’s infinitely better than the zero shots on goal posted in a season-opening 2-0 loss at Houston. However, De Rosario, one of the key pieces of the attack, missed that Houston match due to suspension. His return would have led some to hope United’s offense to show more spark at New York, but for the most part, that wasn’t the case.

[Read more…]

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