Tampa Bay Sports Day

Deja Vu – another 2-2 for DC United at home

For the second consecutive week, DC United gave up a late goal at home to squander a lead and settle for another draw at home in what is becoming the theme of the 2011 season. Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz scored in the 84th minute to bring the Union to level terms 2-2, in what was an evenly played match for most of the night at steamy RFK Stadium.

“You gotta fight through the whole game and finish games off. There is no excuse to lose a game in the last 10-minutes. Well, tie, but it feels like a loss,” said United defender Ethan White.

United newcomers Dwayne DeRosario and Brandon McDonald both started and played the full 90-minutes and both were immediately influential. DeRosario had just one solid training session leading up to the match but was impactful from the onset, garnering the main assist on Josh Wolff’s goal to give United a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute..

United are now winless in their last five matches, including four draws and have only won once at home (2-2-5) since beating Columbus in their opening match of the season.

“It is obviously disappointing to tie again, and it hurts a little bit more because it was the second one (in a row at home),” said United coach Ben Olsen. “But putting that aside, we brought two new guys to fit into the team this week, and I thought it was a pretty good game overall.

“It was a pretty entertaining game; it was a little too open I thought because that is what they do well, they counter attack very well.”

The result spoiled a cracker of a goal from Andy Najar that gave United the lead in the 58th minute and an exceptional performance from goalkeeper Bill Hamid. The young goalkeeper extended hard to his left to deny Danny Mwanga from 17-yards out in the 19th minute and stoned a Ruiz header with a reflex save shortly after United took the lead on Najar’s goal in the second half.

Each team generated some half chances in the first quarter hour of the match before the game opened up, perhaps far more than both coaches would have liked, in an evenly played first half.

Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon countered Hamid a minute later with a great save on a Wolff volley from inside the box, banging his head on the post in the process.

Despite the evenness of the half, United took the lead a minute before the break. Najar played the ball into DeRosario’s timely run near the top left corner of the box with former United standout Brian Carroll in pursuit.

DeRosario surged to the goal line, playing a ball around Carroll to a wide open Wolff, who simply redirected the ball with his right foot passed Mondragon from inside the 6-yard box.

“To have an immediate impact like that is good, to get my team ahead. Wolffy is a great poacher, he has a nose for the net. He positioned himself in a great position where he could just tap it in,” said DeRosario. “When you play around the 6-yard box the keeper has to make a decision and he (Wolff) made the run from the back post to the front post and it was a great run.”

Two unfortunate decisions led to the Union’s equalizer in the in the 49th minute. Chris Pontius’s attempted chest pass to a nearby teammate some 25-yards from goal was the first. Veljko Paunovic easily picked up the errant pass and chipped a fairly innocuous ball to the far post where Perry Kitchen’s clumsy clearing attempt deflected off his knee and perfectly into the upper right corner of the net was the second.

In last week’s 2-2 draw with Houston, Brian Ching’s game tying goal skimmed off the head of Kitchen, altering the direction just enough to get by Hamid.

Pontius responded admirably to his miscue two minutes later however, slipping behind the Union backline and getting off a shot that got through Mondragon despite his getting a good piece of it, only to trickle off the far post.

United took the lead back on a tremendous strike from Andy Najar in the 58th minute. Najar picked up the ball near midfield, pushed the ball recklessly through Mwanga’s legs, drifted into the open space in the right channel before cutting loose a right footed shot from 32-yards out that Mondragon got a piece of again, but not enough to keep it from going into the far corner.

“Yeah those are two of them,” said Olsen when asked if he thought maturity and concentration were the reasons for the continuous late game breakdowns. “We gave them more chances than we like at a home game, or any game for that matter.

“We were kind of living on the edge there for stretches; for 20-minutes here we were good and then they would come at us for 15 or 20-minutes. I am pleased with the performance, not pleased with the result.”

Sheanon Williams and Sebastien Le Toux combined beautifully to set up Ruiz’s equalizer. After receiving the ball from midfield, Le Toux played the ball behind Pontius to Williams in stride, who angled quickly into the penalty area, leading the hard charging Ruiz, who beat White to the spot and flicked the ball into the far side netting from a step inside the 6-yard box.

“They catch us back door and I thought over the 90 minutes there were many times when they were right behind us,” said Olsen.

“We have to be savvier on their running off the ball but give them credit – their running off the ball is very good and what they do best. When Ruiz or Le Toux or (Justin) Mapp, when they get the ball, they have other guys flying to try and get in behind (the defense) and they are committed.”