New, improved picture: Keith Bundy (left), Alexandra Lewis (center), and Kyle Lewis (right) inside BC Place, Vancouver's stadium.
DC showed resiliency and heart but could only manage a 2-2 draw at Vancouver last night (September 30).
DC fell behind in the second minute. Derrick Williams cleared a cross right back to Ryan Gauld, who floated a cross to the back post, where Brian White scored an easy header over a ball-watching Pedro Santos. They equalized in the 11th minute when Ted Ku came in on an errant pass at the top of the box and slid a pass to Christian Benteke for an easy goal. DC controlled most of the possession for the rest of the first half but could not score further.
In the 54th minute, Santos was found guilty of a penalty on Gauld that I thought was quite soft. Gauld then converted the penalty just under the hand of an outstretched Alex Bono to put Vancouver up 2-1. Again DC responded, with Mateusz Klich scoring from 25 yards out on a deflected shot in the 62nd minute to tie the game again.
It ended 2-2. Gabriel Pirani missed two very good chances, not even hitting the goal, and Bono made a great fingertip save. Steve Birnbaum, a late substitute after Williams picked up a knock, also cleared a ball off the line in stoppage time. Both teams wanted a win, and it showed in spirited play, but they ended up sharing the points.
A comic strip in the early 1900s, “Alphonse and Gaston”, had a running gag "'After you, Alphonse.', 'No, you first, Gaston. No, after you…” The Eastern Conference race for the final 2 playoff spots has that feel to it. DC of course tied. Montreal lost to Orlando, NYCFC and Miami tied, and Charlotte lost to New England. Only the Chicago Fire got the full 3 points, beating the Red Bulls (who lost a man to a red card) 1-0. Current standings for 8th through 14th place are as follows; the top two will get the last two playoff spots and will play each other in a play-in game.
Team Points Games still to play
NYCFC 38 2 DC(A), Chicago (H)
Montreal 37 3 Houston (H), Portland (H), Columbus (A)
DC United 37 2 Austin (A), NYCFC(H)
Chicago 37 3 Miami (H), Charlotte (H), NYCFC (A)
NY Red Bulls 34 3 Cincinnati (A), Toronto (H), Nashville (A)
Charlotte 33 4 Toronto (H), Chicago (A), Miami (A), Miami (H)
Miami 33 4 Chicago (A), Cincinnati (H), Charlotte (H), Charlotte (A)
What I said last week probably still holds; DC needs to win 2 more games (which are now the last two games). If so, amazingly, we may sneak in, but it’s not guaranteed; we have to hope other teams do a little more “Alphonse and Gaston”, since everyone else except NYCFC has at least a game in hand. A win against NYCFC and a draw against Austin could possibly work mathematically, but all other results would have to fall completely favorably. Anything else, and we’re done.
Wednesday (October 4) against Austin; Saturday (Octber 7) against NYCFC. Stay tuned.
(PS: Benteke’s goal tonight puts him only 1 goal behind Luciano Acosta, Giorgos Giakoumakis, and Hany Mukhtar for the most goals scored in MLS (15) this year. Obviously not a high-scoring season for any one person.)