It certainly wasn’t the result they wanted, but it may have been the one they deserved after an inspired second half. D.C. United got a very late equalizer to get a 2-2 draw with the visiting Houston Dynamo. With Audi Field not opening until July, the Black-and-Red played the first of their two “home away from home” matches at the Soccer Plex in Boyds, Maryland. The crowd of just over five thousand seemed to enjoy what turned into an eventful game in it’s later stages.
Things certainly didn’t start well for D.C. United, Alberth Ellis caused trouble on the right flank early and often. His deft touch and top notch pace allowed him to create space for himself and others. Yamil Asad headed a ball back to David Ousted, but Elis used that speed of his to intercept that ball and used a quick touch to get it past the keeper to get his second goal in as many games.
The second gaffe by D.C. United came courtesy of their back line, Frederic Brilliant was looking to pass to Joseph Mora. The sender and receiver weren’t on the same page and Elis was on the spot to take advantage of it. This time he won the ball, got into the box and found Mauro Manotas for the easy score. Houston would take a 2-0 lead into the half.
While the Black-and-Red didn’t play horribly in the first half, those two goals were extremely soft and definitely avoidable. The home side played a big role in their own demise, but they didn’t seem shaken at that time.
D.C. United started the second half strong. they created several opportunities early in the half. Breaking through in the 49th minute when Mattocks broke through for the Black-and-Red. Birnbaum played a ball up the sideline to Mora, he found Mattocks inside who immediately played the ball back out wide to Asad. Yamil collected the ball and waited for a couple seconds before playing a ball to the endline for Darren. The forward brought in the ball and cutback as a defender slid by before firing a shot past the keeper to the far post.
The home side would continue their quest to find an equalizer, coming up short a few times. Both Asad and Luciano Acosta showed their abilities to break down defenders and create opportunities for teammates. Paul Arriola and Chris Durkin were inserted in the 67th and 70th minute and it really added quality to D.C. United’s attack. It gave them a bit more pace out wide and Durkin provided a calming force, he also displayed great touch on a few quality passes downfield.
Patrick Mullins came in at the 85th minute to play up top with Mattocks, he was able to provide a solid target for his teammates to play off of. As the clock hit 90 minutes, the home side had just missed a few quality chances. There were seven minutes of stoppage time and it took until the last few seconds for D.C. United to find it’s equalizer. It came off a free kick, Asad played a ball into the box that was initially headed by a Dynamo defender. Arriola got his head on that clearance attempt to put the ball back into the box, Fredric Brilliant headed it near the far post and Acosta was right there to put the ball past the keeper, well off the keeper and into the net. Several seconds later, the game was over.
It was a great response from the home side in the second half, but there’s no excuse for surrendering those type of goals in the first half despite the many new faces trying to get on the same page. It’s clear that they have several options at a few different positions, as Olsen alluded to after the game, they’re trying to find the best fit. There was also a step in the right direction in regards to how they play the ball to Mattocks, the ball was played into space more this match and allowed him to run onto it. There’s plenty of room for this team to grow, but it’s going to take time.
D.C. United heads back onto the road next week for a match with Columbus.