August 22, 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.

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