Tag Archives: Steven Birnbaum

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 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

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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