December 11, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 23 Recap: Leafs tromp Capitals 6-2 in Toronto

In likely their worst performance of the season, the Washington Capitals sustained a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Plagued by defensive breakdowns and shaky goaltending, the Capitals that bounced back to win on Long Island were not the same ones that entered the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The Leafs’ first goal, scored but Morgan Rielly, came on a deflection that bounced off the shinpads of at least two Caps defensemen. There wasn’t much Justin Peters could do to prevent it. Defenseman Cody Franson added a power play goal during the final seconds, and the Leafs led 2-0 at the beginning of the first period.

Justin Peters was replaced by Braden Holtby after allowing 2 goals on 6 shots in the opening stanza. Holby didn’t fare much better than Peters, allowing 3 goals on 12 shots (a pair from Tyler Bozak and one from David Clarkson).  Troy Brouwer’s PPG got the Caps on the board before the period expired, but Bozak and Clarkson’s tallies put the game out of reach before 2nd intermission.

Trailing 5-1 at the start of the third, Barry Trotz made a strange decision to give Holtby the hook and put Peters back in net. Much like the previous goalie swap, it didn’t help.  It didn’t help because this loss wasn’t all about the goaltending. It was a product of defensive breakdowns and fatigue from playing 3 games in 4 nights.

Tom Wilson scored his second goal of the season in the final frame, but it was lipstick on a pig. Joffrey Lupul added insult to injury and the Leafs’ sixth goal of the night.

Notes:

  • The pair of John Carlson (who assisted on both Capitals goals) and Brooks Orpik were on ice for 4 of Toronto’s 6 goals, which is less of an indictment of Carlson than it is of Orpik. It’s been discussed that Orpik is actually bringing Carlson down, and you certainly expect more than what we saw tonight from the team’s top defensive pairing. Orpik was caught coasting on more than one occasion that led to a Leafs goal. Bad night for everyone, but Orpik was exceptionally terrible. For as much as he’s making, he should be better.
  • Alex Ovechkin had 4 shots on goal in the first 4 minutes of the game, had a final total of 7 shots on goal for the game, and led all skaters in PP TOI with 5:33, and all forwards in TOI with 20:45. There’s a lot this guy can do, but he can only carry the team on his back so far.
  • Nicklas Backstrom collected assists on Brouwer and Wilson’s goals, and has 8 points in 5 games (1g, 7a.). Backstrom had the second most TOI of all forwards with 19:56, and logged 4:20 of PP TOI.
  • The Capitals outshot the Leafs 37-23. Peters made 11 stops, and Holtby stopped 12. Their respective SV%s were horrendous.
  • Tom Wilson had another strong showing, and if you ignore his shenanigans at the end of the third period, he’s been okay at keeping his nose clean. His resume for the night boasted one goal, 5 shots on goal, and 15 PIMS.

 

D.C. United Playoff Game 2 Recap: Despite victory, United’s dream season ends

A season unlike any other for D.C. United ended in a fashion also unlike any other for the Major League Soccer club. A 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday afternoon before 20,187 at RFK Stadium wasn’t enough to overcome a 2-0 disadvantage from the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Beaten 3-2 on aggregate, United were eliminated by the rival Red Bulls for the first time in history.

There was hope for United after a first half that saw the hosts bag the only goal, a header by Nick DeLeon that came on the end of a perfect Taylor Kemp cross from the attacking left. Another half like that would have left the series level at 2-2, and forced extra time and perhaps later, penalties. But walking a razor-thin tightrope due to the lack of an away goal in the loss at Red Bull Arena last week, United’s pending doom was confirmed when Peguy Luyindula got goal-side on Perry Kitchen and tapped home a Thierry Henry cross that leveled the match at 1-1. [Read more…]

D.C. United Playoff Game 1 Recap: Listless United Blanked by Red Bulls

HENRY ASSISTS BOTH GOALS AS UNITED FALL BEHIND 2-0 IN EASTERN SEMIFINAL

Lauded much of the season for improved play, a more effective attack, and better defending, D.C. United showed exactly none of that Sunday afternoon in its Major League Soccer Cup playoff opener at Red Bull Arena in a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. Thierry Henry drew assists on a first-half goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips and a second-half dagger from Peguy Luyindula. United couldn’t score an away goal that would have had a massive impact on the series, and now must either win the home leg next Saturday at RFK Stadium by a 2-0 score to force extra time, or by three goals.

Without Chris Rolfe to start and the injured Luis Silva, United looked nothing at all like the team that won the Eastern Conference in the regular season and posted a club-record 59 points. Unable to connect on longer passes and crosses, United rarely possessed the ball with any level of consistency, and the defense was asked to do far too much work against a marauding Red Bulls side that didn’t even get full value for the high level of their performance. [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 25 Recap: United suffer a night to forget at L.A. Galaxy

GALAXY STEAMROLL UNITED EARLY IN 4-1 ROUT

Thankfully for D.C. United fans, the club’s 2014 Major League Soccer season hasn’t seen many games like this. A depleted midfield, slow start, and a phantom penalty all were enough to allow the L.A. Galaxy to drub United, 4-1, Wednesday night at StubHub Center before an announced crowd of 16,044. Despite slipping to 13-8-4, United remains atop the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Sporting Kansas City. The win improved the Galaxy to 12-5-7 (43 points), good for second place in the West, just two points behind the leading Seattle Sounders.

Landon Donovan scored from the spot and had two assists to lead the way in the victory, one which saw United head coach Ben Olsen leave Chris Rolfe, Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, and Fabian Espindola on the bench to start. Luis Silva and Eddie Johnson tried to combine in the attack, but had little opportunity given the Galaxy were on the ball throughout much of a first half that ended with L.A. holding a 3-0 lead. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 22 Recap: Real Salt Lake buries listless United right away

The return of Nick DeLeon, Chris Korb, and even Fabian Espindola as a substitute couldn’t save D.C. United from a 3-0 drubbing Saturday night at Real Salt Lake. The listless and stomach-turning performance dropped United to 11-7-4 (37 points) on the season. RSL took over first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference at 10-4-9, 39 points.

United were neatly and surgically put away within a half-hour, thanks to an 11th-minute goal from Joao Plata and then two goals by defender Chris Schuler, who had a grand total of two career goals prior to Saturday night’s match. He had two in this match by the time 24 minutes were gone. United’s defending was non-existent at times and the attack managed just two shots on goal – eight total – and were flattered by the end to have 45 percent of possession. [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 16 Recap: Team sputters in 1-0 loss to Seattle

On Saturday night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. United showed an attack replete with excellent ideas but confounded with how to execute them. Excellent runs were unrewarded, crosses were wayward, shots either hit the frame or sailed high or wide into warm Washington night. It all added up to a 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders before 16,922. The defeat drops United to 7-5-4 (25 points) on the season and a first-place tie with Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.

The only goal of the game came in the 39th minute, via Seattle forward Chad Barrett. After United cleared a Sounders corner kick, the attack restarted and midfielder Gonzalo Pineda found himself with space on the right flank. He whipped in a left-footed cross that United seemed to be prepared for, in terms of the number of defenders there to deal with it. [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 8 Recap: Goals early and late seal United’s fate at Portland

For about 92 minutes, maybe 92 minutes, 30 seconds, D.C. United didn’t play spectacularly, but the club probably played well enough to win at the Portland Timbers late Saturday night. Surely during that time, United played well enough at least to earn a draw and a valuable road point. Instead, however, United gave up goals in the first minute and the final minute in a 3-2 loss before 20,814 at Providence Park. Gastón Fernández notched the goal about 35 seconds in to give the Timbers the lead and Maximiliano Urruti scored on a rebound in the final minute of stoppage time.

The loss ended United’s five-match unbeaten streak and dropped the Major League Soccer club back to .500 on the season at 3-3-2 (11 points). A win would have lifted United into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the New England Revolution, winners at Toronto Saturday. Instead, United sit in a four-team logjam for third place. The win was Portland’s (1-3-5, 8 points) first of the season. [Read more…]

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