All posts by Sarah Kallassy

D.C. United Out of the Running for the U.S. Open Cup

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Chris Seitz; Leonardo Jara (Jalen Robinson, HT), Frédéric Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Chris Durkin, Antonio Bustamante (Russell Canouse, 70’), Lucas Rodríguez (Griffin Yow, 87’), Luciano Acosta, Ulises Segura; Wayne Rooney

The Match

D.C. United bowed out of the U.S. Open Cup in today’s match against NYCFC, losing 1-2 at home. The disappointing loss comes on the heels of a dramatic win in extra time against the Philadelphia Union just last week.

The Black-and-Red faithful and a small contingent of NYCFC’s supporter group, The Third Rail, were situated at opposing ends of the stadium, their face off mirroring the battle on the pitch. Both groups of supporters fought to be heard while their respective teams rallied in a quest to advance to the quarterfinals.

D.C.’s faithful. Photo Credit: Sarah Kallassy

Wednesday’s match seemed to be going in D.C. United’s favor at first, after an early NYCFC goal that had slipped past goalkeeper Chris Seitz was canceled in the 7’ due to a handball. After a missed attempt, Captain Wayne Rooney rocketed one into the back of the net in the 32’, opening D.C. United’s account for the match.

Unfortunately, Rooney’s goal would be the last of the Black-and-Red’s good fortune for the match. NYCFC broke through D.C. United’s defense to score in the 38’ and 41’. D.C. was sent into halftime down, 1-2.

After halftime, homegrown defender Jalen Robinson entered the match for Leonardo Jara, who had been feeling ill. However, no further substitutions were made by D.C.’s Head Coach Ben Olsen until much later in the second half, despite the pressure from NYCFC on the pitch.

As NYCFC continued to press D.C., Olsen brought on experienced midfielder Russell Canouse in the 70’. Even with the addition of homegrown striker Griffin Yow in the 87′, the Black-and-Red were still unable to find the equalizer. D.C. fell 1-2 to NYCFC, closing the door on a run toward the U.S. Open Cup this season.

A Fractured Squad

D.C. United entered the match against NYCFC with a fractured squad. Given the availability and health of D.C.’s players, it is no surprise they were not at their best Wednesday night against NYCFC. 

Paul Arriola and Junior Moreno are on international duty, for the USMNT and Venezuelan National Team respectively. Leonardo Jara, D.C.’s creative defender, is suffering from a minor illness that was further exacerbated by the heat and humidity. Russell Canouse, another regular starter, is still making a journey toward full fitness after an ankle injury.

Looking Forward

D.C. United will face off against Orlando City SC next Wednesday, June 26th, as they move into the second half of the MLS season. Out of the running for the Open Cup, D.C. can now shift focus to prioritize League matches, while the return of Arriola and Moreno from international duty and better health throughout the squad will give Ben Olsen greater flexibility as D.C. begins a push toward the playoffs.

Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

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D.C. United Turns Up in Extra Time to Win Over the Philadelphia Union 2-1

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Christopher Seitz; Joseph Mora (Chris McCann, 97’), Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Jalen Robinson (Quincy Amarikwa, 90’); Antonio Bustamante (Griffin Yow, 73’), Leonardo Jara, Ulises Segura, Lucas Rodríguez, Luciano Acosta; Wayne Rooney. [Note: Originally Chris Odoi-Atsem was in the XI, however due to a pulled muscle in warmups, he was replaced by Jalen Robinson.]

If you weren’t at Audi Field this Wednesday for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match between D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union, and many weren’t, you missed out on one of the best nights of soccer the District has seen in quite a while.

A nail biter that went into extra time, the fourth-round match saw D.C. and Philadelphia battle it out for 120 minutes before the Black-and-Red were able to claim their victory. In classic Audi Field style, rain began to fall just before the match went into extra time, lending to the drama and testing the Black-and-Red faithful who were posted up in the supporters’ section. 

Notably, Joseph Mora made his return to the pitch, logging over 90 minutes of playing time as he continues the journey to full fitness after being out since the end of March with a broken jaw. Mora’s comeback comes at a wonderful time for D.C. United, as the team is currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Heading into the second half of the season D.C. will look forward to a run toward a playoff berth, making every player critical to the team’s success. 

Joseph Mora is BACK! Photo Credit: D.C. United

Goalkeeper Chris Seitz and homegrown midfielder Antonio Bustamante made their competitive debuts for the Black-and-Red against the Union. Bustamante told MLSFemale, “When I was subbed out, it felt like I just woke up from a dream. My adrenaline was high, it was very exciting.” Bustamante was replaced by 16-year-old Griffin Yow in the 72’, a homegrown favorite and member of the U-17 MNT team.

In the 90’, the match remained scoreless. Coach Ben Olsen brought in veteran striker Quincy Amarikwa, in a smart move that bolstered D.C.’s attacking front. With two 15-minute halves added, the two teams continued to battle in the pouring rain as they each sought just one goal to end the match and avoid dreaded penalty kicks.

Chris McCann sending one home for the Black-and-Red! Photo Credit: D.C. United

When the Union scored in the 113’ it seemed the match might be over with D.C. defeated at home. Black-and-Red supporters cranked up the volume as D.C. United rallied. In the 118’, defender Chris McCann scored the equalizer, slamming a well-placed ball by Captain Wayne Rooney into the back of the net. The crowd in Audi Field roared with approval. Just moments later, in the 119’, our Captain buried a penalty kick to clinch the match for D.C. United.

The dreaded penalty kicks were avoided, and D.C. United emerged victorious, moving on to the next round of the U.S. Open Cup. Will D.C. United claim another Open Cup? A fourth trophy would certainly be a nice addition to the Black-and-Red’s collection.

D.C. United faces off against NYCFC at home on June 19that 7pm in the next round! Vamos United!

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Frustration as D.C. United Draw with San Jose

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United Substitutions: Russell Canouse (Leonardo Jara, 25’), Steven Birnbaum (Chris Odoi-Atsem, 62’)

D.C. United’s Captain, Wayne Rooney, was noticeably frustrated post-match tonight. After two consecutive draws against the NE Revolution and Chicago Fire (which should have been a win for D.C.), D.C. United drew again against the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-1. 

The level-headed Englishman described his irritation with the constant mistakes made by match officials and their inability to get even the simple calls right. Unfortunately, such officiating mistakes had cost D.C. United three points just a few days earlier, when an offsides call was botched. PRO Referees issued a statement, however the points were still lost.

Audi Field was packed with just over 18,000 supporters, ready to see the Black-and-Red emerge victorious before they head toward a break until the end of June. The team has played more games during the first half of the season than any other team, and fatigue is starting to creep in. After a trying stretch, a win at home would have set D.C. up nicely before they continued on into the second half of the season.

With Paul Arriola back on the pitch after a two-match suspension, things seemed to be in D.C.’s favor. Beginning the match with a tenacity and energy reflective of high spirits, D.C. United was well in control of the pitch, containing San Jose. The Earthquakes began to pick apart D.C.’s defense, making their way dangerously close to the Black-and-Red goal. Then, defender Russell Canouse rolled his ankle early on, removing him from the match.

As D.C.’s control of the first half disintegrated, San Jose pelted D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid with attempt after attempt. Hamid saved five shots on target in the first half alone. However, he was unable to stop a well-placed header by Chris ‘Wondo’ Wondolowski that sailed into the back of the net in the 36’. Wondolowski, the top scoring player in MLS history, netted his 151st goal.

D.C. United’s failure to sufficiently mark Wondolowski was clearly a mistake, as he was able to sneak in behind defender Jalen Robinson to open San Jose’s account. As a result, the Black-and-Red were sent to halftime down 0-1. Perhaps most unsettling was that San Jose totaled seventeen shots (6 on target), from 9 players while D.C. totaled only 3 shots (0 on target) from two players during the first half.

The second half was punctuated with knock after knock for D.C. United. Defender Steven Birnbaum took a nasty crack to the head that saw him escorted off the field by medical staff. Minutes later Luciano Acosta was also down on the field, holding his face. Defender Fred Brillant was thrown into San Jose’s goal, and struggled to get to his feet, noticeably limping away.

D.C.’s Acosta was able to find the equalizer in the 67’ bringing the score to 1-1. Bolstered by Acosta’s goal, D.C. United began to put San Jose under more pressure, but remained unable to find another opportunity, even in seven minutes of stoppage time

Tensions flared between D.C. and San Jose, the match becoming increasingly physical as both teams struggled to find just one more goal. Spats could be seen between players both on the field and on the sideline, with heated words being exchanged at close range.

D.C. United hangs on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but a rising Atlanta United is only one point behind. Hopefully the next month will provide the Black-and-Red with a chance to rest and regroup before embarking on their 2019 push for a playoff berth.

D.C. will play the Philadelphia Union on June 12 in the US Open Cup and will resume the regular MLS season when they face Orlando city SC on June 26that Audi Field.

Note: Steven Birnbaum received stitches and passed concussion protocol. He was available for interview and doing well after his injury.

Featured image: @dcunited

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D.C. United’s Rough Week On the Road

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. v Toronto: 0-0 and D.C. v Houston: 1-2

D.C. United had a rough week. Three matches in 7 days rough. The Black-and-Red pulled a win, a draw, and a loss, and logged some serious frequent flyer miles as the team flew from the District to Toronto, and then on to Houston.

Ben Olsen Shakes Up the XI

D.C. United Starting XI against Toronto FC. Credit: D.C. United

D.C.’s starting XI aren’t usually a surprise, especially to those familiar with the team. Head Coach Ben Olsen is a man of habit, which sometimes brings him criticism (unless of course D.C. United is winning, in which case the ranks of Olsen’s Army swell). For the May 15th midweek matchup against Toronto FC and former D.C. United player Nick DeLeon, Olsen had some serious considerations to make in terms of his lineup. 

In a move of genius, or not (depending who you are), Olsen made massive changes to the XI. Leaving Captain Wayne Rooney, Acosta, Arriola, Jara, Pedroso, and Rodriguez to rest on the bench, we saw Jalen Robinson, Akeem Ward, Chris Durkin, and Quincy Amarikwa (finally) get some significant minutes on the pitch. 

Unfortunately, D.C. was unable to score against Toronto FC, but the Black-and-Red were able to withstand the immense pressure they were placed under, keeping the match at a 0-0 draw. Which leads to the fact that…

Bill Hamid is a Brick Wall

Undoubtedly, Bill Hamid was D.C.’s biggest asset during their trip north. Toronto FC took an MLS record 35 shots during the match, however Bill Hamid set a record of his own. Logging a career best 12 saves, Hamid’s shot stopping ability clearly kept the match at a draw, rather than allowing it to turn into a humiliating loss.  Can the man get his USMNT call up, please?

Temperatures and Tempers Flare in Houston

With D.C.’s starters somewhat rested, the team headed to steamy Houston for the final match of the week to face the Dynamo. The Houston Dynamo were, and are, unbeaten at home. 

A collision between D.C.’s Steven Birnbaum and Alberth Elis of the Dynamo in the early minutes of the match left the latter so injured he couldn’t continue. The first half continued scoreless with D.C. and the Dynamo heading to halftime at 0-0. 

D.C. United Captain Wayne Rooney issued a wakeup call to the Dynamo with the first match goal scored in the 46’. With the Black-and-Red up 1-0, Houston rallied. Taking advantage of a lapse in D.C.’s defense, Houston scored an equalizer in the 67’ and another goal just a minute later. 

With tensions rising and the time left on the clock dwindling for D.C. to seek another opportunity on goal, the match became even more physical. D.C. United’s Paul Arriola was booked with a red card in the 85’ for violent conduct after a foul and subsequent tangle up with the Dynamo’s Lundqvist.

With D.C. down to 10 men, they continued to chase an equalizer in the final minutes, even bringing in striker Quincy Amarikwa in stoppage time. Unfortunately for D.C. United, there would be no equalizer and the match ended in a Dynamo victory, 2-1.

Looking Forward

The week’s results were surely not what D.C. United had hoped, especially given that the top spot of the Eastern Conference is at stake. Captain Wayne Rooney has been openly critical of his team, saying, “We were not good enough . . . we need to learn, and if we can’t learn when we’re top of the league, then we never will.”

D.C. United will host an international friendly at Audi Field on May 22 against Spanish side Real Betis but won’t see any MLS action until next week’s match against the NE Revolution on May 25. 

Here’s hoping the Black-and-Red bounce back after a challenging week. Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

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Paul Arriola Leads D.C. United to a 1-0 Win Over Sporting Kansas City at Home

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Paul Arriola, the tenacious 24-year-old Californian, made the game winning goal for D.C United in the 78’ during a tough match against Sporting Kansas City. Attendance at Audi Field was not at its best Sunday night, with a recorded total of just over 12,500. Any variety of factors could have been to blame: Mother’s Day, Game of Thrones, or the chilly weather that belonged back in early March. 

With numerous Sporting KC starters missing due to injury on the team’s first visit to Audi Field, it would have been easy for D.C. United to underestimate the depleted team. Instead, the Black-and-Red exhibited a real sense of urgency on the pitch, as D.C. needed a win to keep pace with the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference Standings. (Both teams currently are in possession of 23 points.)

The first half of the match saw a focused D.C. United trying to break through holes in Sporting’s defenses and the veritable brick wall that is Tim Melia. Sporting’s Dániel Sallói was shown a yellow card early, in the 11’, for dragging D.C.’s creative Leonardo Jara back.

Shortly after, Captain Wayne Rooney took a beauty of a free kick in the 14’, only to have his effort thwarted by the talented Melia. The first half continued to slip away, with both D.C. and SKC unable to find an opening. At halftime, the score stood at 0-0.

As the second half started, the weather deteriorated further and pouring rain pummeled the pitch. While the Black-and-Red faithful remained, many in ponchos, a good number of fans exited Audi Field, unwilling to suffer any longer. The pitch became slick, sending players sliding and giving both D.C. and Sporting a tough time. Medics were called onto the field numerous times as players went down hard. Although there were a few scares, everyone emerged from the match relatively unscathed. 

Just when it looked like D.C. would have to accept a draw, Paul Arriola curled the ball in past Melia. The shot was the ‘something special’, in the words of Ben Olsen, that the Black-and-Red needed to surpass Vermes’ team and take three points for the District. For fans that had been braving the elements all evening, Arriola’s goal immediately injected a sense of warmth into the crowd at Audi Field. Defender Russell Canouse, said, “It was unbelievable. Once it left his foot, we had the feeling that it was going in.”

After scoring, Arriola immediately sent up his love to his late father, Arturo, who passed away late last year. Lifting his cleat to his ear and pointing skyward, there was no doubt who Arriola was dedicating his goal to.

Arriola’s goal is his third this season, bringing him even with Luciano Acosta. Only Captain Wayne Rooney has scored more in 2019. Arriola said, “This time last year, I don’t even think I had a goal. So, it feels good…But more importantly, today was a complete team performance. In the end, it’s not about who wins it, it’s which team wins it.” 

According to Head Coach Ben Olsen, Arriola is establishing himself as a viable option in terms of scoring goals for D.C. United. ‘Lucharoo’ (Acosta and Rooney) have been systematically marked in almost every match, making it more difficult for the duo to create chances on goal. Their dynamic partnership led to D.C. United climbing the Eastern Conference Standings in 2018 to a playoff berth and other teams have taken note. Arriola’s ability to create chances and to distract from the pair remains an incredible asset for D.C. United as the season progresses.

Sunday night was a true team effort for D.C. United, with every player contributing substantially to the team’s success. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid logged his 60th career clean sheet (and 6th this season), placing him 11th in all-time shutouts in MLS.  Ulises Segura and Chris Durkin saw minutes in the second half. Talented homegrown player Durkin will head off to the U20 FIFA World Cup later this month. 

Marquinhos Pedroso, D.C. United’s recently acquired defender from FC Dallas, put in a solid 90-minute performance, adding much needed coverage to the backline. Pedroso brings a wealth of international experience to the team. He has played in his home country of Brazil, as well as Hungary and Turkey. Olsen was pleased with Pedroso’s performance in the match, saying, “I certainly enjoyed watching him.” The defender’s presence allowed D.C. to return to their comfortable formation on the pitch with a four-man backline.

D.C. United is about to hit the road for two matches, on Wednesday against Toronto and on Saturday against Houston, in what Olsen calls ‘silly scheduling.’ When asked how he would deal with his first true travel test since coming to MLS, Captain Wayne Rooney just smiled. “When you’ve got four kids at home, and you’re used to flying with four kids, yeah, any flight is easy without them.” 

D.C. United plays Toronto FC this Wednesday, May 15th, and then moves on to face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, May 18th.

Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

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D.C. United Weekly Roundup: Match preview, Injuries, Call Ups, and Marquinhos Pedroso

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Match Preview: D.C. United v Sporting KC 

D.C. United is set to host Sporting KC for a Mother’s Day matchup at 7pm EST May 12that Audi Field. The match will be nationally broadcast on FS1 and FOXDEPORTES.

While D.C. is fresh off a 3-1 home victory against the Columbus Crew, Sporting KC just fell to Atlanta United 0-3 in a shutout match. Sporting KC currently is sitting in 10th place of the Western Conference. In addition to the spate of injuries that have plagued Sporting, this is the first time the team will hit the road in a six-match stretch. 

For D.C. United, a position at the top of the Eastern Conference hinges on winning this home match against SKC. Currently, D.C. is tied with the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact for first place in terms of points, however, the Black-and-Red occupy second place due to goal differential.

Although SKC is depleted and having a tough run lately, D.C. should not take them lightly. Sporting’s offense is dangerous, having scored 19 goals this season, and has only been without a goal in one match, their most recent faceoff with Atlanta United. SKC has also recently reacquired midfielder Benny Feilhaber from the Colorado Rapids. Whether he will take the pitch against D.C. is up for debate.

Injuries

D.C. saw the recovery and return to play of Russell Canouse and Leonardo Jara, two integral players who have regularly appeared in Head Coach Ben Olsen’s starting XI. However, homegrown player Donovan Pines is sidelined due to a sprain in his medial collateral ligament sustained during D.C.’s most recent match with the Columbus Crew. Pines has started in the last two matches for D.C. United and has shown valuable speed and accuracy, able to bail out the Black-and-Red defensively.

Call Ups

D.C. United homegrown player Chris Durkin has received a call up to compete in the U-20 FIFA World Cup in Poland. The U-20 FIFA World Cup kicks off May 23rd. Striker Griffin Yow, D.C.’s newest homegrown signing, just helped the U-17 USMNT to a 8-0 victory over Guadeloupe. The team will advance to the Concacaf U-17 Championship Quarterfinals where they will face Panama.

New Player Marquinhos Pedroso

D.C. recently acquired left back Marquinhos Pedroso from FC Dallas for $100,000 in GAM. The 25-year-old Brazilian began his professional career at Figueirense, and has since played in the Brazilian top flight, and in Turkey and Hungary. Pedroso was a regular starter for FC Dallas throughout 2018 and fills in a critical defensive gap for D.C. United, as Joseph Mora is still unavailable due to injury. The acquisition of Pedroso also allows Olsen to keep Paul Arriola forward, where he is able to create scoring opportunities for the Black-and-Red.

As always, VAMOS UNITED!

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Happy Birthday Ben Olsen: D.C. United Takes 3 Points at Home

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United win over the Columbus Crew 3-1 at Audi Field.

Starting XI:

D.C. United seem to have gotten their swagger back this weekend, beating the Columbus Crew for the second time this season. D.C. also ended their winless streak at Audi Field, giving Black-and-Red supporters an exciting Saturday night. While thunderstorms threatened and a light rain fell, the weather held, seeming like a good omen for D.C. United. 

Russell Canouse and Leonardo Jara were both back on the pitch, having recovered from recent injuries. As the match progressed it was clear just how much their presence was missed. Also starting was 23-year-old homegrown player, Donovan Pines. In his second start of the season, Pines who stands 6’5” has proved to be a real asset with his speed and accuracy, augmenting D.C.’s defense nicely.

The Black-and-Red were strong in possession from kickoff, doing a solid job keeping the ball away from Federico Higuain and company. However, Pedro Santos of the Crew made an early goal. 

Referee Ted Unkel and Video Assistant Referee Kevin Terry Jr. spent several long minutes deliberating the goal’s validity, as D.C. United insisted Will Trapp of the Crew had fouled Luciano Acosta. The goal was struck, bringing the score back to 0-0. However, many are insisting that it was Unkel himself who got in the way and committed the foul, not Trapp. 

Immediately after, Trapp did actually commit a foul, and D.C. United captain Wayne Rooney was awarded a free kick that Acosta, assisted by Jara, put in the back of the net. VAR was called upon again, to determine if Acosta had been offsides when he made the goal. D.C.’s goal was allowed to stand, putting the Black-and-Red up a point. 

After all of the minutes spent with the VAR, the first half naturally went into stoppage time. Four minutes in and Unkel returned to the video screen. The determination was made that Trapp was guilty of a handball (clearly Saturday was not Will Trapp’s night). Wayne Rooney squared up for a penalty kick, and, in what felt like sweet retribution for his miss during the playoffs, earned D.C. another goal, sending the team into halftime 2-0.

Columbus came out of the locker room ready to turn the match in their favor. However, D.C. United’s Brillant, Canouse, Pines, Jara, and Rodriguez joined goalkeeper Bill Hamid in creating a brick wall against the Crew’s attacks. 

In the 61’, tenacious Paul Arriola broke through the Crew’s defense to sink the first uncontested goal of the match. The third D.C. United goal of the night was Jara’s second assist for the evening. Columbus used up their substitutions as the second half waned.

D.C. scored again in the 75’, unfortunately, the goal was to the benefit of the Crew. After putting in a rock-solid performance all evening, goalkeeper Bill Hamid saw the ball slip through his grasp for an own goal. The drizzle falling on Audi Field surely played a role in ruining Hamid’s clean sheet for the night.

D.C. Head Coach Ben Olsen made only one substitution, Ulises Segura for Arriola in the 85’. Another three minutes of stoppage time were added to the second half; however, the Crew would not see the chance to equalize; the Black-and-Red were too far ahead. At the final whistle, D.C. United won, 3-1, and stayed tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference Standings with the Philadelphia Union.

Olsen was beaming post-match, while Columbus Head Coach Caleb Porter was certainly less than thrilled. Porter said, “it was a fair goal. The referee fouls Acosta and then goes and looks at the television to bail himself out.” Speaking to the press in the locker room, Acosta stated he had indeed been fouled by Trapp.

D.C. United took a much-needed morale boost with the home win. When MLSFemale asked Donovan Pines how he will prepare mentally for next week’s match, the soft spoken 23-year-old smiled and said, “I just take it one day at a time. I think we have two days off now and I’ll just rest, make sure I’m doing the right stretching and preparing my body for practice and then watch film, progressively get better, and get ready for the game coming up.”

Keeping a positive mental attitude will be critical as D.C. United heads toward a faceoff with Sporting Kansas City Sunday, May 12.

Vamos United!

Featured image: D.C. United

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Tied Up on Tuesday: D.C. and Montreal Draw 0-0 at Audi Field

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

The Match:

Beautiful sunset at Audi Field. Photo Credit: Sarah Kallassy

Audi Field wasn’t quite at capacity Tuesday night, but with attendance at 18,116 it was close. As the sun went down over Buzzard point, the volume turned up. D.C. Unitedstarted minus Captain Wayne Rooney, due to his red card in Saturday’s match against LAFC. After their drop to the number three spot in the Eastern Conference Standings, D.C. was certainly seeking some redemption. A win at home against Montreal before hitting the road would have been nice.

Supporter’s groups showing up for D.C. Photo Credit: D.C. United

Despite widespread predictions, Quincy Amarikwa did not start but rather began the match on the bench. Instead, Ulises Segura started the match as a forward, something that Head Coach Ben Olsen has previously tried. Zoltan Stieber started as well, in place of Joseph Mora,who is out due to injuries sustained in D.C.’s match against Orlando City SC. 

Ulises Segura Photo Credit: D.C. United

While the Black-and-Red came out with a certain level of grit and tenacity, they were unable to settle in on the pitch. While able to win duels throughout the first half and test Montreal’s defense, they ended up at halftime with nothing in the net. Rather, the half saw both Paul Arriolaand Leonardo Jaraissued yellow cards. 

The second half of the match yielded much of the same frustrating stalemate as the first half did. As Quincy Amarikwa was (finally) substituted into the match in the 64’, replacing Stieber, a collective sense of excitement seemed to ripple through Audi Field. Unfortunately, Amarikwa couldn’t save the match for the Black-and-Red, even with a pair of well-placed headers. 

D.C. and Montreal split the points, ending the match in an incredibly frustrating 0-0 draw.

Takeaways:

D.C. is still reliant on Rooney

The Black-and-Red just couldn’t seem to get it together without their Captain on the field. While Rooneyis an incredible player and leader, D.C. United has the talent to win matches when he is unavailable. Now, they just need to believe it.

More injuries will challenge the team

Both veteran defender Chris McCannand newly signed defender Leonardo Jarawere injured in this match. McCann has a hamstring injury that could see him out for a few weeks, while Jara injured his shoulder and may be out over a week. In addition to the jaw injury and concussion that Joseph Morasuffered, these injuries further reduce the number of experienced players Head Coach Ben Olsen has available.

New players will have the chance to step up

Players like Akeem Ward, may have the chance at minutes on the pitch given the shakeups due to injury. Homegrown players such as USMNT U20 player Chris Durkin, Loudon United playerDonovan PinesJalen RobinsonGriffin Yow, and Antonio Bustamante may also be making more appearances in the 18 and starting XI.

Time will tell how the Black-and-Red will adapt. Captain Wayne Rooney will travel with D.C. United as they take to the road and face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, April 13th!

Featured image: @dcunited

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A Bitter Pill: D.C. United Fall to LAFC at Home 0-4

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

The Match:

Saturday’s sellout D.C. United vs. Los Angeles FC match at Audi Field began on a high note. Perfect weather, legend Jamie Moreno joining another 20,600 fans in the stands, and the supporter’s groups chanting their hearts out set the stage for what Black-and Red fans hoped would be a victorious home match. 

The matchup between the two top teams in MLS, and the dramatic face off between their star Captains had been widely anticipated. D.C.’s Captain Wayne Rooney and LAFC’s Captain Carlos Vela are two players with long records of success both before and in MLS. Everyone was wondering what would happen when they collided on the pitch.

Credit: Goal

D.C.’s starting XI has seen a few changes since Joseph Mora suffered a broken jaw and concussion in last week’s match with Orlando City SC. After the same starters for four straight matches, Head Coach Ben Olsen brought in veteran defender Chris McCann to start. Homegrown player Donovan Pines also saw his first match in the 18.

Credit: D.C. United

Something felt off, but D.C. held their own against LAFC, at first. Unfortunately, Leonardo Jara took a ball to the arm while down on the pitch that resulted in a PK. D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid made a beautifully difficult save against LAFC Captain (and star) Carlos Vela. 

The optimism generated by Hamid’s save evaporated moments later when Vela put one clean in the back of the net. LAFC were up 1-0.

Still, D.C. United would have no issue finding an equalizer before halftime, right? Two more goals from LAFC’s Diego Rossi before the 45’ certainly hit morale hard. As forward Quincy Amarikwa said, “That was the first time we got put on our heels in the first half. That’s the first time this year we’ve had to deal with being under fire.” 

Apr 6, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) scores a goal on D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (24) as D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum (15) defends in the first half at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United entered the second half down 0-3, and to their credit, they began to play like they were really fighting for a win. Midfielder Paul Arriola reflected on the second half saying, “We had nothing to lose at that point. I mean, 3-0, what are you going to do? You just go out there and you show the fans why they should be fans of D.C. United.”

Some would say the Black-and-Red perhaps went a little too hard in the second half, with Captain Wayne Rooney taking a red card in the 51‘ for his challenge of LAFC’s Diego Rossi

With D.C. United a man down, Rossi then finished the game up beautifully for LAFC with his third goal of the match, completing a hat trick. Even with five minutes of stoppage time added, D.C. United was still unable to score.

The Takeaways:

While the loss was indeed a bitter pill for D.C. United to swallow, we were left with two very positive takeaways from the match.

D.C. United is an accountable team

Although D.C. put in a performance they were unhappy with, they refused to place blame anywhere but squarely on their own shoulders. No criticism of the referee, the weather, or the other team was heard in the interview room or the locker room post-match. When asked about how D.C. fell short, Head Coach Ben Olsen said, “I look to myself first.”  About his players, Olsen said, “No one quit, no one pointed the finger.”

With no argument after being issued a red card, D.C. Captain Wayne Rooney handed off his armband, apologized to Rossi, and exited the pitch, exhibiting exemplary class and leadership. Rather than vanishing, Rooney waited after the match to speak with the press. He offered no criticism of referee Robert Sibiga, and said he “expected” the call.

There is no doubt about it: When the going gets tough, character counts. The Black-and-Red’s will carry them through even the toughest times this MLS season.

Talent runs deep

 D.C. United certainly has talent. New signings, and starters, Leonardo Jara and Lucas Rodriguez brought some of the most creative and snappy play to the match, especially during the second half. We saw Quincy Amarikwa’s D.C. United debut, and minutes for Chris Durkin and Ulises Segura. The Black-and-Red’s pool of talented players beyond the starting XI will be critical during the long and unpredictable season ahead.

Amarikwa, D.C.’s only other striker, will be one to watch on Tuesday where he is anticipated to fill in for suspended Captain Wayne Rooney. An experienced player, Amarikwa has been with the League since 2009. Post-match, he spoke exclusively to MLSFemale about his role and the example he hopes to set for other players at D.C. United: 

“I’m usually one who gets his opportunities when things aren’t going so well… Hopefully I can set a standard for guys to understand that even if you’re not expected to be called upon, you’re ready to go and make a positive impact regardless.”

D.C. United returns to the pitch on Tuesday, April 9thagainst Montreal at home. As always, VAMOS UNITED!

Featured image: @dcunited

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D.C. United claim road victory 2-1 over Orlando

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United’s latest match may have broken goal keeper Bill Hamid’s streak of clean sheets, but D.C. took their first away win of the season, defeating Orlando City Soccer club 2-1.

This is the first time D.C. United takes home three points on the road since their May 2018 match with the San Jose Earthquakes. The no-win streak that lasted for 11 away matches is no more.

Almost match time! Photo Credit: Sara Phillips

D.C.’s last road match against NYCFC ended in a 0-0 draw, and at home D.C. United demolished Real Salt Lake 5-0 in a spectacular shut out. However, D.C. United’s test has always been playing on the road. The magic the team brings to Audi Field just hasn’t translated well to away matches, until tonight. 

Head Coach Ben Olsen kept the same starting XI lineup he has used for four matches now. No surprises for anyone who has been following the Black-and-Red. Based on the more difficult schedule D.C. United is about to face and injuries, Olsen will have to start relying on some of the stellar talent he has on the bench.

Defender Steven Birnbaum scored the first goal of the match in the 6thminute, setting D.C. up well very early on. It is Birnbaum’s first goal of the 2019 season. He celebrated by paying tribute to his expecting wife, shoving the soccer ball under his jersey.

Unfortunately, Orlando’s intensely physical playing style saw an early injury around minute 15 to D.C. United’s Joseph Mora. Mora was immediately escorted off the pitch by medical staff as a precaution. “It’s a shame,” said Head Coach Ben Olsen. Mora will have to undergo surgery for a broken jaw.

Veteran defender Chris McCann entered the game for Mora, making his D.C. United playing debut. McCann previously played for Atlanta United and was part of the team that won last year’s MLS Cup Championship. 

As the match continued it became easier to count the number of D.C. players that weren’t knocked down on the pitch. Even Captain Wayne Rooney took his fair share of knocks. After a dangerous foul by Orlando’s Dom Dwyer, Rooney had a chance for some retribution and he did not disappoint.

The foul.

In the 30th minute, Rooney sent the ball past Orlando goalkeeper Rowe in an absolute stunner to raise D.C.’s lead over Orlando to 2-0. From the angle Rooney took his free kick at, an assist seemed more probable, however D.C.’s Captain continues to show his high level of skill, especially under pressure.

Rooney’s stunning goal quickly brought to mind the last time D.C. United and Orlando met at Audi Field. ‘The tackle’ and assist by Rooney that led to Lucho Acosta’s header was arguably one of the finest moments of the 2018 season.

D.C. United’s defense had the chance to shine under Orlando’s pressure tonight. Brillant and Birnbaum especially, did not disappoint and were hard at work clearing away Orlando’s attacks throughout the match.

Goalkeeper Bill Hamid only let one goal in the entire match, which, considering the pressure he faced from a possessively dominant (54.4%) Orlando, is impressive. While not the clean sheet Hamid was surely looking for, he made consistently difficult saves to keep D.C. in the lead for the win.

“There is a winning spirit about the group”, said Head Coach Ben Olsen. Can undefeated D.C. United keep up the momentum?

We will find out when the Black-and-Red return home to Audi Field to face off with LAFC on April 6th!

Featured image: @dcunited

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