October 19, 2017

D.C. United Game 9 Recap: Sporting Kansas City earn draw away to United

D.C. United’s unbeaten run in Major League Soccer is now at seven games thanks to a 1-1 tie against Sporting Kansas City in front of 16,221 at RFK Stadium.

United went ahead late in the first half as Chris Pontius chested down Perry Kitchen’s cross into the path of the onrushing Jairo Arrieta in the penalty area. Arrieta made no mistake from 10 yards out, and put the home side into the lead in the 43rd minute of the game.

However, the hosts could not hold their lead for very long, as Sporting came roaring back to equalize just a minute later. Roger Espinoza showed a burst of pace to take him to the byline and sent in a cross that Dom Dwyer turned and finished brilliantly to bring Kansas City level. [Read more…]

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 3 Recap: Late goal seals United victory over Los Angeles Galaxy

In a battle between two teams with players absent for a variety of reasons, D.C. United triumphed 1-0 over the Los Angeles Galaxy at RFK Stadium in their latest MLS fixture thanks to a goal in second-half stoppage time from Chris Pontius.

The Black-and-Red faced an opponent they had not beaten since 2009, but the visitors had some depth issues with Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane and Jaime Penedo all away on international duty. Meanwhile, the hosts had injury and unavailability problems of their own, although with Miguel Aguilar’s work permit now secured he was eligible for selection again.

The home side’s goal when it came was a product of some good teamwork, with the ball finding the net with just over 30 seconds remaining before the final whistle. Nick DeLeon broke down the right and was fed by a deliciously weighted pass from Davy Arnaud that left the Galaxy defense flat-footed. After some trickery, DeLeon lofted a ball into the six-yard box that Pontius managed to get his head on and steer home to secure a vital victory. [Read more…]

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 Game 26 Analysis: Olsen unlocks key to perfect lineup in Sunday win

In Sunday’s 2-0 win over the arch-rival New York Red Bulls, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen answered one of the major questions facing his club, and in doing so, may have also cemented the club’s status as a championship contender in Major League Soccer for the 2014 season.

The question, of course, was how to use forward and designated player Eddie Johnson, while not messing with a combination that has been lethal of late. That combo, featuring Luis Silva, Chris Rolfe, and Fabian Espindola, helped lead United to seven goals in two wins when Johnson was serving a suspension for matches against Colorado (4-2) and Sporting Kansas City (3-0). [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 20 Recap: United romp past Toronto to continue streak

D.C. United improved to 4-1 without injured leading scorer Fabian Espindola, and 11-5-4 (37 points) overall with a resounding 3-0 thumping of Toronto FC (7-7-5, 29) before 16,171 at RFK Stadium. United, second place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and winners of four straight, brushed aside the conference’s third-place team with ease thanks to goals from Eddie Johnson and Chris Rolfe, then a TFC own goal set up by some terrific work by D.C. midfielder Nick DeLeon.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make a couple quality saves among the eight he totaled, but for the most part, D.C. were better on the ball, did more advanced work off the ball, and United’s defense were somewhat of a brick wall compared to that of TFC. With space open on all sides of the field, it was only a matter of time before United, even without the seven goals and eight assists from Espindola in the lineup, made Toronto pay.

The onslaught began in the eighth minute, when for the first time this season, Johnson scored from open play, crashing home a header from the middle of the penalty area off a perfect Perry Kitchen cross. Johnson has now scored in three straight games, but the other two came from penalty kicks and Johnson’s opening goal of the campaign was a header from a corner kick.

Kitchen, meanwhile, was the best American midfielder on the field, even with U.S. National Team stalwart Michael Bradley in the 11 for Toronto. The assist was his second of the season to go with three goals, and his defensive work was on point as always.

Chris Rolfe made it 2-0 in the 59th minute, converting on a 1-0n-1 chance with Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik after DeLeon was felled in the penalty area. Referee Chris Penso played advantage and Rolfe finished the chance neatly.

DeLeon was also involved in the third goal, opening up space for himself in the box after first eluding Justin Morrow, then dispensing of would-be defender Nick Hagglund. His shot was saved by Bendik, but then it was knocked into the net by a recovering Hagglund.

Since losing Espindola, United have outscored its opponents, 10-4. United looks to continue the surge Sunday at the Houston Dynamo (8 p.m., CSN).

THE GOOD: A lot to choose from. But DeLeon’s moves both on his goal and in the midfield to create space and hold possession were of high quality.

THE BAD: Johnson, Davy Arnaud, and Chris Korb were all cautioned. But really, that’s being picky. Nothing to complain about over tonight’s performance.

THE UGLY: This was Hagglund’s second straight game vs. United that went really poorly. Good for United, but given TFC’s appetite for success by bringing in guys like Bradley and Jermain Defoe, the defense (28 goals allowed) has to be shored up for the Reds to be a serious MLS Cup contender.

  • The club announced the acquisition of defender Kofi Opare, via trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy. According to the club, the Galaxy also sent United its second-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The Galaxy move up to United’s spot in the allocation order. Opare will provide defensive depth which is needed since center back Jeff Parke remains out injured, though rookie Steve Birnbaum (90 minutes tonight) is doing well in his absence.Opare is a 23-year-old Canadian defender. He had five starts in his six appearances for the Galaxy this season. Opare made six appearances (all starts) for Los Angeles in 2013, his rookie season. Opare played his college soccer at the University of Michigan.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. He covered United for The Journal Newspapers from 1997-2002. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

D.C. United Game 17 Recap: United hit halfway point in first place after win at Toronto

Road wins are rarely pretty, but they are so very important. D.C. United got three vital away points Saturday night, winning at Eastern Conference rival Toronto FC, 2-1, before 22,591 at BMO Field. Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen scored the goals for United, while Luke Moore got on the scoresheet for Toronto. With the win, United improved to 8-5-4 (28 points), leaving D.C. alone in first place in the East halfway through its season (pending Sporting Kansas City’s result Sunday vs. Chicago).

Road wins were non-existent in the league for United last season, one when winning anywhere was a true rarity. There was a school of thought that such troubled times would befall the black-and-red again now, with leading scorer (and assist man) Fabian Espindola out with a knee injury for several weeks. Where would the offense come from? [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 15 Recap: Silva’s trick is United’s treat in 4-2 win at Montreal

In a first half that at times featured all the defensive intensity of an MLS All-Star Media Game, D.C. United got the better of the proceedings thanks to a hat trick from Luis Silva and a goal by Nick DeLeon, beating the Montreal Impact, 4-2, Wednesday night. All six goals were scored in the opening 45 minutes. United moved into sole possession of first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference with the win, on a 7-4-4 (25 points) record. The team was dead last in MLS last season at 3-24-7 (16 points).

Silva had never had a two-goal game with United, let alone a hat trick. But the midfielder who was acquired from Toronto FC last season started the first half on its crazy path just 6 minutes in. After some nice possession work, Chris Rolfe got on the ball at the edge of the attacking third and found Fabian Espindola ahead to his right, who quickly located Silva cutting between two Montreal defenders. The pass (despite a deflection) was perfect and Silva hit a right-footed shot low and past Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins to make it 1-0. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 13 Recap: One brilliant Espindola goal enough for United victory

Fabian Espindola’s campaign for Major League Soccer MVP benefited from another memorable moment Saturday night, as D.C. United’s leading scorer lofted home a ridiculous goal in the first half that stood up in United’s 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City before 18,522 on a beautiful night at RFK Stadium. The win lifted United into second place in the Eastern Conference (6-4-3, 21 points), just two points out of first thanks to New England’s shocking loss to Montreal.

For all Espindola has done in helping to resurrect United on the field so far this season, his goal Saturday night was the masterpiece of his highlight video. Taking a layoff from right back Chris Korb, Espindola appeared to pose little threat, as SKC defender Seth Sinovic tracked him, but didn’t close him down. This can be forgiven, since Espindola was moving the ball back to his left, away from goal. [Read more…]

D.C. United Analysis: First-quarter evaluation, part 3 – Midfielders

Of all the pieces of this week-long series evaluating D.C. United through about the first quarter of the 2014 Major League Soccer season, considering the value and effectiveness of the midfield might be the most difficult. Unlike defense and forward, the midfield wasn’t completely plowed over in the offseason, as the intention was to have relative veterans Nick DeLeon, Chris Pontius, and Perry Kitchen anchoring the middle of the field, supplemented by new acquisition and MLS veteran Davy Arnaud.

Nine matches into the season, that plan has already undergone a significant adjustment due to Pontius being unavailable due to injury. With the Washington Post reporting in late April that recovery from a hamstring injury will likely keep Pontius out for most of the regular season, midfield is one area where United’s best plan has already been rubbished. [Read more…]

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