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Middle School Delight, Soccer Pain

DC United played the New York Red Bulls at Audi Field this past Wednesday (May 15).

First, the good news: it was DC Scores night (our favorite charity; just ask our Vice President Laurie Gonzalez at a tailgate some time), and an entire middle school (Nicholas Orem, I believe) attended the game. They wore light blue jerseys that said “Falcon Pride” on the front. The photos above show the group in the South Stands.

Now, the not-so-good news: it was a bad day at the office for DC, who lost 4-1 to their arch-rivals.

DC started Bono in goal; Dajome, Peltola, Bartlett, McVey and Herrera in defense; Klich, Hopkins and Stroud in midfield; and Benteke and Ku-Dipietro at forward.

The field was not in ideal shape, to say the least. The DC Defenders (a United Football League team that also uses Audi Field) had played a game  three days earlier, and the yard lines still showed. The field was also slick from an intermittent mist, and players on both teams slipped and fell.  

DC seemed on the back foot for most of the first half, although they had their moments. New York was very physical, and the referee let almost everything go. Benteke was shoved into the boards on a ball out of bounds, and a few words were exchanged. It looked like it would be scoreless at halftime, but in the second minute of stoppage time a long pass from New York’s defensive end found Elias Manoel. Despite being shadowed by two DC defenders, Manoel let it bounce once and then launched a brilliant shot from 35 or 40 yards out that beat Bono, who was off his line a bit. Just an incredible shot, power and precision combined (a softer shot would have easily been tipped over by Bono). So it was 1-0 New York at the half.  New York had 60% of the first half possession.

DC came out hard in the second half, and missed a couple of good shots in the first 5 minutes. However, in the 52nd minute Cameron Harper took advantage of a slip by McVey (that lovely surface again) and scored from the right side to make the score 2-0.

DC made a triple substitution in the 55th minute: Birnbaum for McVey, Pirani for Dajome, and Santos for Klich. Unfortunately, it didn’t help. Two minutes later, New York counterattacked on a DC turnover near midfield. Harper may have been offside, but it wasn’t called. He came in one-on-one with Bono, who made a great save, but the ball bounced to Lewis Martin for an easy tap-in. 3-0.

DC stormed the goal for the rest of the game, but New York held firm except for a 65th-minute headed goal by Bartlett. DC had ¾ of the second half possession, and ended up with 22 shots (7 on goal) and 10 corners, but it was too steep a mountain to climb. New York bunkered down, goalie Carlos Coronel made a couple of nice saves, and Benteke bounced a header off the crossbar. DC did not score again. As a final indignity, New York’s Cory Burke added a goal in stoppage time off a passing error to make the final tally 4-1.

Other DC subs were Murrell for Stroud (73rd  minute) and Rodriguez for Ted KDP (76th minute).

DC plays again in Miami this Saturday (May 18). Lionel Messi sat out Miami’s game against Orlando Wednesday night; we’ll see if he plays Saturday.

Other news:

Conner Antley tore his ACL at the end of the Atlanta game last Saturday, and is out for the season. He has played some solid defense this year and will be missed.

There will be a second professional women’s soccer team in the DC area (we already have the Washington Spirit, in the NWSL). The new team will probably start play in August. It is partly owned by DC United, will play at Audi Field, and will play in the new USL Super League. Is this another NBA/ABA or NFL/AFL situation? We shall see.

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