Tag Archives: Paul Arriola

You Can’t Always Get What You Want: D.C. United Draw with FC Cincinnati

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Russell Canouse; Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins (Leonardo Jara, 67′); Lucas Rodríguez, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura (Luciano Acosta, 58′); Quincy Amarikwa (Ola Kamara, 69′)

Unused Substitutes: Chris Seitz, Donovan Pines, Marquinhos Pedroso, Emmanuel Boateng

In the last match of the regular season, D.C. United faltered, unable to break a scoreless deadlock with FC Cincinnati. What should have been an easy win at home turned into a physical and frustrating game that eventually cost D.C. United a home playoff match.

Decision Day has a way of bringing surprises to the League, and today was no exception. Although their season record has been nothing short of dismal, FC Cincinnati brought everything to the pitch at Audi Field for their last match of the 2019 season.

The Stage Was Set

Black-and-Red supporters so desperately wanted a win, and optimism hung thick in the air at Buzzard Point. D.C. United broke with broadcasting partner FloSports earlier in the week, in a move lauded by fans. Today’s match was streamed for free on D.C. United’s website, with play by play announcers Dave Johnson and Devon McTavish at the helm, joined by special guest Joanna Lohman (Washington Spirit and USWNT), and D.C. United’s Claudia Pagan reporting from the sideline.

D.C. United had prepared special tifo to honor the club’s four MLS Cup Championships, which were displayed before kickoff. The club has been widely criticized for ignoring its history and culture since moving to Audi Field, and today’s gesture was welcomed by many.

What Happens on the Pitch…

D.C. United began the match on a high note, creating chances and looking dangerous from the first whistle. Head coach Ben Olsen fielded a strong XI and stacked the bench with super subs, to create an 18 more than capable of taking on Cincinnati.

While D.C. began the first half with good pace, they seemed to let off the gas too soon. Cincinnati played with the type of desperation and heart of a team with nothing left to lose, becoming physical quickly with D.C. United. The visitors from Ohio created chances of their own, and while D.C.’s keeper Bill Hamid handily saved each shot, Cincinnati should have never been allowed that close.

The last ten minutes of the first half turned chaotic, and the wheels came off of Cincinnati’s bus. A series of nasty fouls against D.C.’s players, including a dangerous high kick to Ulises Segura and the throwing of Felipe Martins to the ground… by his neck, resulted in not one, but two red cards issued to Cincinnati. In the 41’ and 43’, Joseph-Claude Gyau and Roland Lamah were sent off respectively, leaving D.C. United up two men.

Ulises Segura quickly capitalized on the restart advantage, rocketing the ball into the back of the net for the Black-and-Red. Unfortunately, the elation coursing through Audi Field was short-lived, as referee David Gantar went to VAR for review and subsequently struck the goal as he determined Segura had been offside.

Regardless of the goal being called back, the second half began with optimism; after all, Cincinnati was down to nine men. What the Black-and-Red didn’t bank on was their opponent’s ability to park the proverbial bus, even with the wheels off. Cincinnati moved into a 5-3 formation, creating an almost impenetrable backline.

Throughout the second half, D.C. United struggled to get through Cincinnati’s defense. Assaults by Lucho Acosta, Paul Arriola, Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez, and Ola Kamara were still not enough to earn D.C. another goal. The chances were thwarted by Cincinnati’s defense, and otherwise lacked accuracy. Clinical finishes have been D.C.’s Achilles heel this season, and today was no different.

Yes, FC Cincinnati wasted incredible amounts of time in the second half and were unchecked by the officials. (They used this tactic intelligently, and honestly, any team in Cincinnati’s position would have done the same.) However, D.C. didn’t capitalize on being up two men, or their abundant chances, even with six minutes of stoppage time added to the match.

Where We Go from Here

With the opportunity for a home playoff match off the table, D.C. United will be forced to hit the road and head to Toronto. This is not the scenario desired by the team or supporters; however, the Black-and-Red have been in excellent road form this season. Bill Hamid just logged a record 14th shutout, and D.C.’s defense is one of the best in the League. All that remains is tightening up D.C. United’s attack.

Speaking to media after the match, Hamid said, “When the final whistle blew, the frustration was there, it was a very chippy night. Their players were… wasting time, but we’ve got to forget about it now. We’ve got to forget about it and move on. We’ve got to focus on going there and beating them and putting in a solid performance. So, that’s the focus now. We’ve got to let this one hurt a little bit so we can build up some fire from within and beat Toronto.”

Olsen said, “it’s been one of my toughest seasons, with adjustments and injuries…” Although D.C. United may not have their home playoff match, and supporters likely won’t get to send off Wayne Rooney in style, you can’t always get what you want. The Black-and-Red have a playoff berth, and still have a shot at the MLS Cup. So maybe, we’ll get what we need.

Author’s note: On a bit of a sad note, captain Wayne Rooney made one of his final appearances at Audi Field today. Suspended due to yellow card accumulation, Rooney was on the pitch hours before today’s match, getting in his daily practice. Hopefully we will see Rooney before he departs for England at the end of the season to start as a player-coach for Derby County.

Featured image: Sarah Kallassy

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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A Missed Opportunity

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Leonardo Jara (Ema Boateng 67′); Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins; Lucas Rodríguez, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura (Luciano Acosta 58′); Wayne Rooney (Ola Kamara 74′)

D.C. United lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road, with a lone goal scored in the first half deciding the match. After a standout performance against the LA Galaxy, sans Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta, it seemed almost preposterous that D.C. was bested by a team sitting in last place in the MLS Western Conference Standings.  Almost.

With a stacked roster, D.C.’s road trip to Vancouver could have been an easy opportunity for the Black-and-Red to secure three points before returning home to face their rivals, the New York Red Bulls, on Wednesday. New signing Ola Kamara was available to play in the away match, only increasing the feeling of confidence going into Saturday night’s match-up. 

Coach Ben Olsen began the match with many familiar faces in the XI, and for the first 10’ , D.C. seemed well in control of the match; then, the wheels came off the bus. Although they made 24 total shots, D.C. could not seem to find the back of the net. Only two shots were on target, an early shot in the 2’ by Paul Arriola and another shot in the 19′ by Ulises Segura.

Vancouver also only managed two shots on target, however, unlike D.C., one by Yordy Reyna managed to pass through the frame and connect, putting the Whitecaps up 1-0 in the 18’. It would be enough to best the Black-and-Red.

Even with 7 minutes of stoppage time added – yes, 7 – D.C. was unable to convert one of their 24 shots into a goal and left empty handed. Much to the chagrin of the team’s captain, they also had 12 hours of flight time to think about what went wrong.

Officiating Woes

Officiating seemed to be a pain point for D.C. again. What appeared to be a handball on the part of Vancouver, went without any call from referee Timothy Ford. Rooney, who is known to have publicly taken issue with MLS’s inconsistent officiating before, went off on the 4th official as he was subbed out of the match for Ola Kamara in the 74’. Post match, Rooney expressed his frustration, saying:

“Because I have my opinions on the referees and it’s not very good. So, I feel they need to improve the game – that’s my opinion. I feel like I’m entitled to my opinion. I said a couple of weeks ago, I got kicked, the referees do nothing. All I’m asking for is a bit of protection and it would be nice if Howard Webb could come to the training ground and let us speak to him over it because I feel it’s happening game after game. And to get some clarification, it would be nice if Mr. Webb came down to the training ground to speak to us.”

Standout Performances

There were two standout performances of the night, despite no result. Paul Arriola totaled five shots during the match, his most this season, and seemed to be everywhere on the pitch. Often considered to be Ben Olsen’s ‘Swiss Army Knife’, Arriola is a play maker, capable of influencing the match wherever he happens to be positioned. 

Paul tried to draw the positives from the match saying, “We had early chances to go ahead. We knew what Vancouver was going to bring to the table. They were very well-shaped defensively and looked for counter-attacks. They’ve got very good players up top. Credit to them, they executed when they needed.”

Shots made by Paul Arriola.

Ulises Segura, who has been simply outstanding in D.C.’s last few matchups, was incredible with his service during the match.  The midfielder’s successful passes, open play crosses, and key passes would have certainly been converted to assists had D.C. managed to score against Vancouver.

Ulises Segura’s successful passes, open play crosses, and key passes.

Looking Ahead

D.C. United will face their rivals, the New York Red Bulls at home this Wednesday and followed by a road trip to Philadelphia to face the Union on Saturday. With the urgency of securing a playoff berth looming, hopefully the Black-and-Red will make a turnaround before these two tough matchups.

As always, Vamos United!

Featured image: Vancouver Whitecaps

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Accept No Substitutes (For a D.C. United Win)

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Jalen Robinson; Leonardo Jara, Felipe Martins; Lucas Rodríguez, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura; Quincy Amarikwa

No Substitutions

D.C. United pulled off a stunner of a match against the LA Galaxy, winning 2-1 at home. With an XI that included neither Wayne Rooney (ill with an upper respiratory infection) nor Lucho Acosta (he began the match in the 18), the Black-and-Red relied on teamwork and their depth to claim a sorely needed three points. 

Coach Ben Olsen returned to the 4-2-3-1, with Quincy Amarikwa starting up top, Jalen Robinson at right back, and new signing Felipe Martins slotted in the midfield next to Leo Jara. The lineup drew some disappointment, from those wishing to see Rooney and LA’s Ibrahimovic face off on the pitch, and a bit of skepticism, from those who couldn’t understand why Acosta was starting the match on the bench. Mostly, the chosen XI drew curiosity; were they up to the task of taking on the LA Galaxy?

Paul Arriola

It was clear from the first whistle that D.C. were on the pitch to win, with fiery, tenacious performances from the XI. Paul Arriola opened the scoring in the 28’, assisted by Ulises Segura and Quincy Amarikwa. While LA answered in the 48’, it wasn’t enough for the visitors to leave Audi Field with any points in hand. Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez found the back of the net for D.C. in the second half, bringing the Black-and-Red the match winning goal in the 73’. 

Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez and Quincy Amarikwa celebrate

Quincy Amarikwa may not have scored for the Black-and-Red, however, he did log his first assist in Black-and-Red. Amarikwa’s major accomplishment of the match, however, was getting inside of the Galaxy’s heads. He epically trolled the players on the pitch, getting uncomfortably close to Zlatan, and putting on a show of crying in front of Alvarez. While Amarikwa was rewarded with a yellow card for his theatrics by referee Alan Kelly… It. Was. So. Worth. It.

While Ben Olsen usually waits until the final minutes of the match are ticking away on the clock to make any changes, he chose to forgo substitutions entirely. Instead, he opted to let the XI continue on with their ‘rhythm and familiarity.’

While the move could have cost D.C. due to fatigue, every player put in 90’+ and still seemed to have gas left in the tank.  Perhaps this option isn’t sustainable, but Olsen bet correctly Sunday night, preserving quite a few sets of fresh legs for Vancouver and a rivalry match with the Red Bulls.

‘Bill Hamid, Bill, Bill, Hamid!’

Zlatan is denied by Bill Hamid

LA’s Zlatan Ibrahimović had a record-breaking match, tallying 14 shots. His scoring record was substantially less impressive, as he was soundly denied any scoring chance by D.C.’s defense, and homegrown goalkeeper, Bill Hamid. Hamid’s cat-like reflexes were put to the test the entire evening and he delivered, racking up five saves for the Black-and-Red (although it certainly felt like more). 

The one and only, Bill Hamid

In the second half, Zlatan fired a rocket of a shot toward D.C.’s goal that seemed destined to find the net. Hamid sprang into action, deflecting the shot and refusing the towering Swede a seemingly perfect goal scoring opportunity. Hamid stood up to chants from supporters, and applause from Zlatan himself.

A ‘Culture of Meritocracy’

Quincy Amarikwa getting vertical

For D.C. United’s Quincy Amarikwa and Jalen Robinson, their start in Sunday’s match was well earned. Amarikwa said, “We wanted to come out and prove a point where we are in the season.” He continued, “A lot of the work we put in goes unseen. We have to show up every day prepared to play, and we typically go home disappointed because we don’t get an opportunity to showcase what we can do.”

Amarikwa believes that a player’s time to shine will come, “maybe it’s in week one, and maybe it’s in week 30. I think the guys who haven’t gotten minutes stepped up and showed why and how to contribute. I think it’s a testament to our group. It shows that we have depth… I think building a culture of meritocracy is important here, and I think that’s what we’re doing.”

Jalen Robinson

Jalen Robinson was assigned to the tough task of defending Zlatan. He said, “I think people forget, this is my sixth year. I’ve dealt with forwards like that [Zlatan]…Zlatan is a big dude, but I had to step up to the challenge. No matter what, I just gave it my all for my team. It was just nice that he didn’t score.”

Robinson, who has played with D.C.’s second team for years, is ready to challenge the misconception of the Black-and-Red lacking depth.

“I don’t think people realize; we have a good team. What you don’t see is, our second team has always been good. I think I can testify to that because I’ve been on the second team for so long. We’ve always been super deep. You know, we came out tonight, Quincy, myself, Uli…we came and showed everything we had. What better way to get three points?”

Amarikwa has some advice for those doubting D.C. United, “Don’t take us lightly. If you do, it’s a mistake. If you come, we’re ready. That’s what tonight was and we’re looking forward to the run into the playoffs here.” Robinson agreed, a smile on his face, “We’re going to be a problem. I guarantee we’re going to be a problem.”

D.C. hits the road to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday and will return to Audi Field for a rivalry match with the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, August 21st

As always, Vamos United!

All images: Patrick Rouin // Twitter: @PR4_photography // IG: @pr4_photography

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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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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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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Insight from the Midfield: Paul Arriola Talks D.C. v Atlanta

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

It’s no secret that Paul Arriola‘s star is on the rise. The talented midfielder is a regular starter for D.C. United and a member of the USMNT. In D.C. United’s season opener against Atlanta, Arriola’s early goal was critical to the Black-and-Red’s victory. Paul kindly took the time to discuss the match with me after D.C.’s win.

After a disappointing end to D.C. United’s preseason, the team, and Arriola especially, played with an incredible intensity during the match despite the tough opponent and weather conditions. I asked Arriola what clicked for D.C. United to give such a positive performance.

Paul said, “I think it’s a willingness. There were tough conditions. But, before the game, we said it wasn’t going to make a difference. We go out and its pouring rain and the fans want to be there but it’s so cold. You know, you go out there and your hands go numb. All of those things are just little things, but they can make or break you.”

Atlanta United was clearly not playing to their usual standard during the match. The team has experienced significant changes and challenges to include: a new coach in Frank de Boer, losing Miguel Almiron to Newcastle, and a punishing CCL schedule in addition to their MLS obligations. These were all positives for D.C. United on Sunday according to Paul.

Arriola said, “I think we got Atlanta at a great time after playing Thursday a tough game against the Costa Rican team, and then having to play this week coming up. For them I’m sure it was tough, when you are fatigued, it plays a role, being away plays a role in the MLS for some reason.”

Atlanta is the favorite of many pundits to do well this season and even have a chance at another MLS Cup Championship. However, D.C. United contained Atlanta from the first whistle, giving them very little opportunity to create chances on goal.

Paul said, D.C. United, “talked a lot leading into the game about how dangerous Atlanta could be…and how we could take care of that.” D.C. was able to translate this knowledge into a strategy to keep Atlanta at bay, “the most important thing we talked about is the best way to defend is to keep the ball, and we were able to do that. I think it was great to be able to get the goal for the team early before the first half ended.”

“Like I said, I think there is still a lot of work for us to still do, but you can’t ask for a better way to start the season,” Arriola said.

No, you certainly can’t ask for a better start. Happy 2019 season and as always…Vamos United!

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D.C. United Shut Out Atlanta 2-0 in Home Opener

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

The beginning of the rain at Audi Field. Photo credit: Sarah Kallassy

D.C. United did not hold back during their home opener against reigning MLS Cup Champion Atlanta United. Temperatures hovered in the balmy 30s and freezing rain pelted Audi Field, turning it into a veritable slip-and-slide where players from both teams took repeated tumbles. 

With the inclement weather, one would expect a slower pace, however, the matchup between D.C. United and Atlanta was incredibly physical from the start. After disappointing results at the end of the preseason against Philadelphia and Montreal, D.C. gave us a reminder of who they are tonight; a team that is tenacious and determined.

Image credit: D.C. United

D.C. United’s starting lineup was no surprise to longtime followers of the team and included new signings Leonardo Jara (#29) and Lucas Rodriguez (#11). Both Jara and Rodriguez put in solid performances during the match and seem to have started settling in well with the DC United squad.

Although D.C. had possession less than half of the time (43.7%) in the first half, they were able to create a staggering 11 chances on goal. Paul Arriola’s (#7) 45+1’ minute goal capitalized on the chances the Black-and-Red created and placed DC United in the lead. Atlanta United was only able to create three chances during the first half, none of which materialized into a point on the scoreboard.

D.C. returned to the second half strong, with another goal scored in the 58th minute by Luciano Acosta (#10), assisted by Lucas Rodriguez (#11) in his first MLS assist. D.C. finished out the match by shutting out Atlanta 2-0. This match marks the first season opener since 2015 that the Black-and-Red have won.

D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen, “was really pleased with the performance overall,” and said the “timing of the goals were big.” Olsen was quick to touch on the difficult schedule that Atlanta has and the fatigue the team must be experiencing. He said, “although it was a really good performance and a mature performance from us, you have to take it with a little grain of salt with the schedule they’ve had. Maybe we didn’t get their best punch.” Olsen wished Atlanta the best of luck with their upcoming CCL match this week.

D.C. United certainly benefitted during the match from Atlanta United’s fatigue due to their heavy schedule with CCL and MLS matches. Internal changes to Atlanta’s structure also were a welcome boon to D.C. such as the loss of Miguel Almiron to Newcastle and the new leadership of Head Coach Frank de Boer.

De Boer spent much of his career under Louis van Gaal and his loaded resume includes numerous titles and time at Ajax, Barcelona, and the Dutch National Team. However, it may take Atlanta’s players some time to get used to de Boer’s more conservative style after being accustomed to former Head Coach ‘Tata’ Martino’s looser, attack-focused style.

D.C. United was able to exploit the myriad of factors contributing to Atlanta United’s lackluster performance at Audi Field. Ben Olsen said, “in this league [MLS], you have to take advantage of those days, and I think we did that for most of the night.”

D.C United is now in possession of their first three points of the season, with their next match played away against New York City FC on Sunday, March 10th.

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DC United Win Preseason Friendly in Suncoast Invitational

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Fans were able to watch DC United take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies in Saturday’s friendly match via a live stream. However, it was not FloFC, DC’s new broadcast partner, that provided the stream, but rather the Rowdies via YouTube. Having the ability to see the Black and Red in a preseason game was a treat, given that there hasn’t been a solid plan in place for fans to view the matches.

DC won the match, 1-0, with a goal scored in the 34th minute by Paul Arriola (#7), avenging the elbow he took to the face in the 27th minute. Arriola, a fan favorite and member of the USMNT, took advantage of a well-placed ball by Luciano Acosta (#10) to score the deciding goal of the match. Captain Wayne Rooney (#9) scored the second in the 40th minute with a diving header. Unfortunately, Rooney’s goal was called offside after the referee went to VAR for review.

The match was physical for a friendly, with Acosta taking an early yellow card, and Arriola, Rooney, Leonardo Jara, and Akeem Ward all taking decent knocks throughout. Papé Diakité of the Tampa Bay Rowdies took a yellow card in the second half. 

The Tampa Bay Rowdies substituted several trialists during the second half and their youthful energy made the game even more interesting to watch. One of the commentators said, “What I love, is that they are so young, they don’t realize they are playing against DC United.” 

DC United made their own series of substitutions in the 77th minute, swapping out Earl Edwards Jr. for Bill Hamid, and sending in Jalen Robinson (#20) and Donovan Pines for Frédéric Brillant (#13) and Steven Birnbaum (#15). Arriola, Joseph Mora (#28), Júnior Moreno (#5), Zoltán Stieber (#18), and Rooney all left the field and were replaced by Shinya Kadono, a new Loudon United FC signing, and several DC United Academy players, including Griffin Yow and Bryang Kayo. Ulises Segura (#8) received the captain’s armband from Wayne Rooney (#9) to finish the match. 

While this was certainly not DC United’s most technical or fast-paced match, it was a good opportunity for fans to see new talent take the field. We saw a nice save by Edwards and how Jara and Ward may fit in with the DC’s on-field dynamics. Above all though, fans were just happy to be able to watch a preseason DC United match.

DC United will face the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, February 20th in their next preseason match.

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