September 15, 2019

D.C. United Game 34 Recap: Rainy draw in Montreal brings regular season to close

ESPINDOLA SCORES LATE TO EARN D.C. A POINT

In this massive turnaround season for D.C. United, a 1-1 draw in Montreal on the final day leaves D.C. with a club-record 59 points for the season and first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference heading into the MLS Cup playoffs. Fabian Espindola scored his 11th goal of the season in the 86th minute to bring United level. D.C. finished the regular season 17-9-8 and will win the East by at least four points. Montreal finishes where United did a season ago, dead last in the East, with 27 points (6-18-9).

The game meant vastly different things to each team. Thanks to the L.A. Galaxy’s loss at Seattle earlier in the day, a win in Montreal would have given D.C. the second overall seed in the playoffs, allowing D.C. to host the MLS Cup final (should it get that far) against any team other than Seattle. The 1-1 draw, however, leaves United two points behind the Galaxy. For Montreal, it was a showcase for retiring forward Marco Di Vaio, who is calling it a career at age 38. [Read more…]

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 31 Recap: United’s epic turnaround continues as D.C. clinches playoff spot

SCORELESS DRAW VS. SPORTING KANSAS CITY SENDS UNITED INTO POSTSEASON

On this night, a draw will feel just fine for D.C. United. A 0-0 tie against visiting Sporting Kansas City before nearly 20,000 in the rain at RFK Stadium lifted United’s record to 15-9-7, and the 52 points are enough for D.C. to grab one of Major League Soccer’s five Eastern Conference playoff berths. Sporting Kansas City now stands 13-11-7 (46 points), remaining six points behind leaders United in the East.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid made a couple nice saves and three overall in posting his career-high 10th shutout of the season and 30th of his MLS career. D.C. had chances to break the deadlock, but multiple Fabian Espindola shots went wide, and mid-air contact on Chris Pontius in the SKC penalty area did not result in a spot kick in the judgment of referee Hilario Grajeda. Davy Arnaud was cautioned for United, and will be suspended for a game upon his next yellow card. [Read more…]

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…]

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