March 28, 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 4 Recap: United snatch 1-0 win away to Orlando City SC

It was yet another late show from D.C. United, as a goal in second-half stoppage time secured them all three points away to Orlando City at the Citrus Bowl in Florida with a 1-0 win.

In the first half, United owed their clean sheet to goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who kept them in the game with several incredible saves to continue the form that saw him named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year for 2014. However, in the second period it was the visitors who arguably had the best of the game, and missed a couple of glorious chances having been largely stale in attack in the opening 45 minutes.

Then, in the first minute of second-half stoppage time, the crucial goal came. Luis Silva had been brought on as a substitute for his first action of the 2015 season after injury, and had a free kick from about 20 yards out. The United forward curled one around the wall that Donovan Ricketts could not keep out of the Orlando goal, and secured the visitors all three points. [Read more…]

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: Trio shines in peppy MLS All-Star victory over Bayern Munich

In a match that was full of Pep (Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, that is), the three D.C. United players who were named to the MLS All-Star team played the entire second half. That 45 minutes saw the MLS All-Stars erase a 1-0 deficit to beat the German champions, 2-1, thanks to goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls) and Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy). Defenders Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell, as well as goalkeeper Bill Hamid (who earned the win), were part of 11 new MLS players who started the second half.

Boswell got the second assist on the All-Stars’ opening goal in the 51st minute. The United defender played a long ball forward up the middle of the field that was flicked on by Erick Torres (Chivas USA). That touch carried it about 25 yards from the Bayern Munich goal, where Wright-Phillips ran on to it, took one touch, then blasted a left-footed shot to the upper far corner past goalkeeper Tom Starke. [Read more…]

D.C. United Analysis: First-quarter evaluation, part 2 – Defenders

A year after giving up 59 goals and sometimes conceding in ways that any professional coach or manager would find laughable, things had to change on the D.C. United back line. Players like Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic, and James Riley were dispatched or left the club via various means, and the front office completely revamped the defense in an attempt to have United not repeat 2013, which was one of the worst seasons by any club in the history of Major League Soccer.

Nine games into United’s 19th MLS season, the defense is still a work in progress and there are things that can be corrected. While there may have been a couple glimpses of last year on a few of the goals allowed, United’s defense is doing a much better job considering the attack hasn’t necessarily been solid at keeping the ball and taking pressure off the defense when United is level or on the lead in a match (especially of late). [Read more…]

D.C. United acquires forward Eddie Johnson from Seattle Sounders

A much talked about move over the last 24 hours was made official Tuesday afternoon, as D.C. United completed a deal to acquire U.S. National Team forward Eddie Johnson from the Seattle Sounders, the team announced in a press release. According to the club, United is sending allocation money to Seattle in exchange for Johnson, though an amount wasn’t given.

Johnson, who will turn 30 early next season, spent the last two seasons with the Sounders after returning to MLS from playing overseas. Johnson is a veteran of 140 MLS regular-season matches, scoring 64 goals and adding 18 assists. He had 23 goals in 49 appearances for Seattle in 2012 and 2013. [Read more…]

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