May 23, 2017

D.C. United Game 6 Recap: Chris Rolfe scores spectacular free kick in Houston Dynamo tie

D.C. United played out a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo in front of 13,047 fans at RFK Stadium in their latest MLS match, with the hosts unable to capitalise on Chris Rolfe’s spectacular free kick in the first half to put them in the lead.

It was a night of some historical significance for United, who celebrated their 300th regular season MLS game at RFK Stadium, and with a win the Black-and-Red would have equalled their club record for the most points through six games in their history.

Rolfe’s free kick got the hosts off to the best possible start, as Jairo Arrieta showed some trickery on the edge of the penalty area and was brought down by a Dynamo defender. Rolfe stepped up and buried the resulting free kick into the top corner for his first goal of the season, with Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric able to get a fingertip on the ball, but it was not quite enough to prevent it.

However, the away side became more and more attacking as the game grew on and were rewarded for their endeavors with an equalizer midway through the second half. Substitute Will Bruin saw an effort saved brilliantly at point-blank range by Andrew Dykstra, deputising in United’s goal for Bill Hamid, but Ricardo Clark was on hand to bury the rebound and level the scores.

The draw was probably the right result in an even game on a humid evening in the nation’s capital, with both sides enjoying plenty of possession and chances but neither able to take advantage.

In the first half, the Dynamo had the better of the early chances as both Giles Barnes and Clark forced saves from Dykstra, with United unable to make any of their possession pay in the early stages. However, the hosts grew into the period as time went on, and had some good moments before the break.

Their best spells came courtesy of Chris Pontius and Michael Farfan, who both looked lively in attack and keen to run at the Houston defense. Pontius almost scored a spectacular diving header from a Taylor Kemp corner, while Farfan continued to look dangerous on the right and almost forged a chance for himself through sheer strength of will in the penalty area only to see it be cleared.

The visitors continued to have good moments, and almost took the lead on the stroke of halftime as Kofi Sarkodie’s low cross almost found Clark’s foot as he slid in but just evaded the midfielder. United were by far the happier of the two teams as they headed for the break, and in the second half Houston managed to have some more sustained spells of pressure.

In the second period, it was the home side who had the best early opportunity as Perry Kitchen, fresh off his second appearance for the United States Men’s National Team in their 2-0 win over Mexico, saw a first-time shot from outside the penalty area be tipped wide by Deric.

That seemed to sting the visitors back into life, and they came agonisingly close to an equalizer as Nathan Sturgis had a first-time shot of his own cannon back off the post with Dykstra beaten. Just five minutes later, Clark finally found the net and drew the sides level once more.

The hosts brought on both Nick DeLeon and Luis Silva as their recoveries from injuries gather pace, and DeLeon in particular looked impressive as he drifted relatively freely from his preferred right-wing position into the middle. He had a great opportunity for D.C. with just 14 minutes left on the clock with a flying volley from a Kemp cross, but it sailed over the bar as DeLeon was unable to control his shot.

United continued to push forward in the closing minutes in search of yet another late goal — a hallmark of their 2015 season thus far — and thought they had one as Bobby Boswell headed over from a corner on the stroke of 90 minutes. However, it was not to be as both sides were forced to settle for a point.

Goals
DCU — Chris Rolfe 36’
HOU — Ricardo Clark 65’

Disciplinary
HOU — Ricardo Clark (caution, foul, 9’)
DCU — Perry Kitchen (caution, foul, 50’)

Attendance: 13,047

D.C. United XI: Dykstra; Franklin, Boswell, Opare, Kemp; Farfan (Silva 71’), Kitchen, Arnaud, Rolfe (Aguilar 80’); Arrieta (DeLeon 58’), Pontius.
Subs not used: Worra, Korb, Jeffrey, Doyle.

Houston Dynamo XI: Deric; Sarkodie, Taylor, Rodriguez, Beasley; Lopez (Lovejoy 80’), Garrido (Bruin HT, Hoffman 90’+2’), Sturgis, Clark, Davis; Barnes.
Subs not used: Willis, Horst, Miranda, Alex.

D.C. United Game 32 Recap: United finally end Houston home dominance

WIN PUTS UNITED ON BRINK OF TOP SEED IN EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS

Much of the 2014 Major League Soccer season has been spent comparing this year’s D.C. United to last year’s, two teams who couldn’t be more distant in terms of ability and results. But on Sunday, United finally accomplished something it never had previously, winning in Houston, 3-1. The victory lifted United to 16-9-7 on the season, and D.C.’s 55 points leave the club six points clear of Sporting Kansas City and the New England Revolution with two matches left for all three teams. United are a point away from clinching home field throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Dynamo, who slipped to 11-15-6 (39 points) were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss. The defeat also took away one fact that Houston had been able to hold over United’s head for years – the Dynamo’s home dominance of D.C. The streak had covered 10 league matches, during which the best United had managed was a draw … just one lone draw. Fabian Espindola’s expert chip over the head of Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric gave United a 2-0 lead in the second half and that ended up being the key goal. Houston closed within 2-1 on a Giles Barnes penalty kick, but Eddie Johnson put the game away with his goal in the 87th minute. [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 11 Recap: United wins and looks good doing it, 2-0 over Houston

The D.C. United squad on the field at RFK Stadium Wednesday night bore no resemblance to that which struggled through the 2013 season. That was partially due to a much changed roster, but on Wednesday, it was also due to a night of solid play, entertaining attacks, two wonderful goals, and a 2-0 victory for United over the Houston Dynamo before 8,224 in Washington.

Chris Rolfe opened the scoring in the 28th minute, as he and forward partner Fabian Espindola worked a nice 2-on-2 vs. the Houston defense. After a Lewis Neal throw-in, Espindola worked into the Dynamo defensive third, then passed the ball off to his left for Rolfe, who worked man to man against Houston defender David Horst. Rolfe made some space, moved the ball left, at which time Horst lost his balance. Rolfe then fired a low shot to the left of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to make it 1-0. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 34 Recap: United’s MLS season ends in fitting fashion

Mercifully, D.C. United’s 2013 Major League Soccer season is over.

It ended in the same fashion as so many other matches did this year, with a United loss – this one to Houston, 2-1, before 13,731 at RFK Stadium. The win clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot for the Dynamo. The loss left United 3-24-7 on the season. The three wins are the fewest of any club in MLS’ 18 seasons. The 24 losses are tied for second most with the 1999 Kansas City Wizards – and one behind the 1999 New York/New Jersey MetroStars (25). [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 9 RECAP: United powerless to stop Dynamo

In a season that had started with a 1-6-1 record and only four goals scored in eight games, things actually got worse Wednesday night. United lost to the Houston Dynamo, 4-0, before a sparse crowd at RFK Stadium in Washington. The loss was United’s heaviest of the season, and came courtesy of two goals and an assists by Houston’s Will Bruin, as well as goals by Giles Barnes and Andrew Driver.

United remains last in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. Houston improved to 6-2-2, 20 points. The Dynamo have now beaten United twice this season, by a combined score of 6-0.

United (1-7-1, 4 points) had a possible goal disallowed (as usual, almost) in the second half, when Houston defender Kofi Sarkodie saved two close shots on the goal line, both by Dwayne De Rosario. On the first, the ball appeared to perhaps cross, while the second, closer to the post at Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall’s left, may not have crossed, though replays on both plays were inconclusive. [Read more…]

D.C. United GAME 1 ANALYSIS: With perfection required, United fell short in opener

A tie in the season opener isn’t exactly what D.C. United would dreamed of from its Major League Soccer season opener Saturday night at the Houston Dynamo. In retrospect, however, a tie would have been a good result given the starting lineup and how the match played out. The Dynamo won the game, 2-0, on two goals in the final 10 minutes.

Saturday’s lineup featured Lionard Pajoy starring as the lone forward. Not that he was the only player with attacking capabilities, certainly, as midfielders Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon are capable of scoring goals and setting them up. United outnumbered Houston in the midfield, 5-4, but with star midfielder Dwayne De Rosario out (suspension), D.C. didn’t control the midfield, despite the numbers, leading to a 60%-40% discrepancy in ball possession in Houston’s favor.

With Pajoy alone up top, what often happened is either he wasn’t available for the midfielders to outlet to, or when he was on the ball, he was quickly surrounded by orange-clad Dynamo defenders, unable to distribute the ball because no one had joined the attack to support Pajoy. Pontius tried to help, but missed a header high in the second half after crashing a free kick off the crossbar late in the first half. When it was over, United hadn’t forced Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to make a save; no shots on goal from seven attempts. United had but two corner kicks to Houston’s six.

[Read more…]

D.C. UNITED GAME 1 RECAP: Dynamo continue home dominance vs. D.C. United

A new Major League Soccer season began Saturday night in Houston, Texas, but for D.C. United, the song remained the same. United fell, 2-0, to the Houston Dynamo before 20,019 at BBVA Compass Stadium, thanks to an own goal scored by United defender James Riley, and a late insurance goal by Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark.

United (0-1, 0 points) has played at Houston nine times and have just one draw and eight losses to show for it. On Saturday night, United survived a dodgy penalty call in the first half, then two Houston shots from point blank range in the half’s final minutes, to emerge scoreless at halftime.

But after carrying a bit more possession and generating a couple chances in the second half, United fell behind when, on a Dynamo corner kick, Clark got goal-side position on Riley and went up to head the ball toward goal from close range. Clark missed, but Riley made contact, sending a hard header past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to give Houston the 1-0 advantage in the 80th minute.

United never really threatened a comeback from there, but any thought of drawing level late to steal a point vanished nine minutes later. From a throw-in, Houston substitute Warren Creavalle managed to keep the ball in play near the end line to Hamid’s left, then passed to a wide-open Clark in the penalty area. Clark blasted a well-taken shot to the upper corner at Hamid’s far post, giving Houston its final 2-0 margin of victory.

At halftime, it appeared as if United were on their way toward capturing at least a point. Hamid dove right to save a Brad Davis penalty kick after D.C. defender Chris Korb was cautioned for a foul on Clark in the 40th minute. Replays showed the foul actually occurred outside the penalty area, despite head referee Baldomero Toledo’s insistence to the contrary. No matter, however, as Davis’ penalty kick was not well struck and Hamid saved easily. He then doubled his effort by collecting a rebound shot, ending the threat.

Moments later, United nearly took the lead themselves, but Chris Pontius’ free kick banged off the crossbar above Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall. United then again avoided going down a goal when, on a corner kick, a shot by Houston defender Bobby Boswell was cleared off the line by Korb at Hamid’s left post. Giles Barnes followed up from only a few feet away, but Hamid saved that effort, allowing for the scoreless deadlock at halftime.

United’s defense couldn’t hold out past 80 minutes, however, and D.C. will entertain Real Salt Lake on Saturday, March 9, at RFK Stadium in the home opener looking for its first standings points of the 2013 season.

Coming Monday:  A preview of D.C. United’s 18th season in Major League Soccer. On Tuesday, a more detailed analysis of how United dropped its season opener in Houston.

Notes:  D.C. United defender Daniel Woolard received the only other caution, for a foul in the 15th minute. Woolard was replaced by Riley to start the second half. … There was no debut for new United forward Carlos Ruiz, who started the game on the subs’ bench but was not inserted into the game by D.C. head coach Ben Olsen. … Elsewhere on Opening Day Saturday, Sporting Kansas City rallied from a goal down to beat the Philadelphia Union, 3-1; the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated Toronto FC, 1-0; FC Dallas blanked the Colorado Rapids, 1-0; the Montreal Impact scored an upset win at the Seattle Sounders, 1-0; and the Columbus Crew crushed Chivas USA, 3-0. … There are three matches Sunday, including Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls, televised by ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. The other two matches feature Los Angeles Galaxy-Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes-Real Salt Lake.

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