The Black-and-Red continued their unbeaten streak by getting the result in Vancouver on Saturday night, winning 2-1. DC United is now tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with the New England Revolution. It was a great display of resiliency from the road team, going down extremely early and rallying to get the result.
At the start of the game, it didn’t look as if DC would make much of their trip up north. A little over a minute into the game, the Whitecaps went up 1-0 behind a cleverly placed volley from Pedro Morales. The exact opposite of what United wanted as the visiting team, as the home crowd got even louder.
The good feeling for Whitecaps fans didn’t last long as DC responded in the ninth minute. Michael Farfan placed a cross into the Vancouver box, captain Bobby Boswell climbed the ladder and got his head on the ball, placing it in the lower left corner to tie the game at 1.
This would be the second game that Bill Hamid would miss after suffering a thigh contusion in United’s last game with the New York Red Bulls a few weeks ago. Andy Dykstra got his second consecutive start, he was tested early and often by Morales, Mattox and Rivero. Especially in the opening ten minutes. While Hamid missed another game, there was a huge positive as striker Fabian Espindola played in his first game of the 2015 season. He started the year with a six game suspension and had done nothing more than train with the team. The Black-and-Red were also without starting back Taylor Kemp who was out with an illness, Chris Korb would start in his place.
Espindola not only started, but played the entire 90 minutes in his first game back. Vancouver felt his presence immediately, especially in the final third as he wreaked havoc on their back line. He was able to steal several passes from the Whitecaps backline and put pressure on their keeper. Prior to this game, United suffered from over-passing in the final third. Espindola changed that a bit as he brings a true scorer’s mentality to the position, he has a nose for the goal and if given any space, will shoot it.
One of those steals and breakways is where the game would be forever changed, Espindola stole a pass after a Vancouver corner and raced upfield. He was taken down by Matias Laba, the referee issued him a yellow which was the second of the game. Resulting in Laba being ejected, Vancouver had to play the rest of the night with 10 men.
While it gave United the obvious advantage, it didn’t discourage the Whitecaps one bit as they came out on the attack in the second half. Vancouver’s keeper was tested early in the half and came up huge twice. First, he was able to get a mitt on a blistering shot from Espindola who was racing in from the right and tried to put the ball in the left corner. Just as impressive if not more, was Ousted’s save on a shot from Chris Rolfe that was eerily similar to the location of the ball he put in the back of the net last week.
It wasn’t just Ousted that was tested in the second half, Vancouver applied strong pressure on Dykstra as well. They nearly scored after Ousted’s two great saves, but Mauro Rosales shot went just a bit wide and hit the post. His teammate Rivero got the rebound and fired a shot, but it was blocked by Sean Franklin. On the play, Dykstra and Franklin got tangled up and Dykstra would leave the game shortly thereafter with an ankle injury. Which meant, United’s third keeper would make his MLS debut in a 1-1 game. It was a big moment for Travis Worra, but his backline would step in and help him get his first win.
Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, and Chris Korb were stellar from that point on. They made life as easy as they could on their new goalie, routinely sacrificing their bodies to block shots. It all paid off as United broke the tie and scored what would be the game winner in the 64th minute. It was all about Rolfe, he started it by combining with a teammate in midfield before making a run into the box, he then passed the ball to Espindola who was able to touch it back to Rofe before being tackled. Chris learned from the last shot of his that was blocked and put a strong right footed shot into the back of the net and Ousted could do nothing about it.
It was a great win for United, hopefully they can regain their health as a team, but a great win none the less. Especially considering they were able to put a team away, something they struggled with recently.