It was a tale of two halves last night at RFK, the visiting Sporting Kansas City came out with a tactical wrinkle that puzzled DC United for nearly a half. Even in that first half in which Kansas City shocked the home team, United was able to go ahead 1-0. Unfortunately, they surrendered a goal just three minutes later before the end of the half. It was a totally different game in the second stanza, but the damage was done and the score held up as United got a result, but not the one they desired.
For a game that resulted in a draw, it was highly entertaining. Sporting KC dominated the first half, flummoxing United by giving them time on the ball. DC almost seemed to rush when they had so much time and space. Rushing passes, there were many giveaways in dangerous positions. The sloppy play kept them from putting together quality possessions that half.
Sporting KC took advantage of those giveaways by generating quality chances, but the DC defense was able to answer every call for most of the half. There were several good crosses by Kansas City that resulted in point blank shots on Bill Hamid, one of them, from Jacob Peterson went off the top of the crossbar. Another found Benny Filhaber getting a point blank shot on Hamid, but Bill was in position to thwart the shot from the near post.
Even through the bad half of play for United, they scored the game’s opening goal on a beautiful sequence. Perry Kitchen found the ball in the middle of the field, he pivoted and lofted a pretty ball wide for Chris Pontius. Who was behind the defense and had the goalie and a defender closing down on him, he dropped a pass to the trailing Jairo Arrieta who was able to sneak the ball by the Kansas City keeper that dribbled into the right corner of the goal.
‘We battled in a bad half and get a goal out of it and we turn around three minutes later and give them one back. That’s unacceptable’ – Ben Olsen
The excitement didn’t last long as Sporting KC would strike just three minutes later, right before the first half ended. Roger Espinoza who got the ball on the left , before being forced out of bounds, he was able to send a low cross into the box. Dom Dwyer collected the ball and quickly turned and fired a rocket past Hamid to the near post. It was a textbook display of turning and firing from a striker, it would be the tying goal and Dwyer’s third of the season. Dwyer had been battling DC’s Kofi Opare all game in the center of the field, Opare seemed to frustrated him with his size and physicality. On this sequence with the backline of United scrambling to get marked up, Dwyer was on a smaller defender and took advantage of it.
Once the second half started, it was a different DC team that took the field. Looking like the team that was on a roll for the past six matches. The home side was much more livelier in the second stanza, being far more patient with the time Sporting KC were giving them. Creating several quality chances that could have put the team ahead. There were several prime opportunities on crosses from the left side of the box to the right, but there weren’t DC players there on the end of the passes. Chris Rolfe was able to put a good volley on target, the ball just sailed a bit high.
‘We thought that they would come out and press more, but they actually allowed us to play a little bit. We were a little bit too slow on our play, we weren’t ready to have that much time on the ball and we could have been quick with our decisions. The second half, we figured out how to beat that pressure. We start making better runs, second guys were running behind the line. We were getting balls in behind, creating more chances once we figured out how to beat their pressure.’ – Sean Franklin
There were six minutes of stoppage time, right before the ref called time to signal the end of the game. United’s Michael Farfan got a quality look, but the shot was just a bit too the right. Had it been more on target, he might have scored. It was another case in which DC started slow, in the locker room after the game, the vibe was definitely one of anger and not sadness. It seemed that as a whole, United felt as if they gave that game away and lost the result by their own doing. Several players mentioned that it doesn’t matter about what the other team(s) do, but that they just have to worry about themselves and they’ll be fine. They’ve already shifted their focus to Orlando who comes to town on Wednesday.
‘Game’s done now, we move on. We still get a point, we’re obviously disappointed that we don’t get all three. We’re not going to dwell on it, I know that. We’ll be ready for Wednesday and go again.’ – Davy Arnaud
Even with the game resulting in a draw, DC is still tied for first place in the Eastern Conference and their undefeated streak at home continues.