WASHINGTON, DC – It was a quick, month-long turnaround between meetings for DC United and NYCFC when they resumed rivalries at RFK Stadium on a sun-kissed Washington afternoon.
Stung by the 4-0 defeat handed out by Patrick Vieira’s men at Yankee Stadium in March, Ben Olsen’s side warmed to the task the quicker and enjoyed some early pressure on Sean Johnson’s goal.
“We knew what to expect,” Viera said. “We knew that they would be tough, that they would be physical and would put a lot of pressure on us…I’m a little disappointed because…we were a little passive, especially in the first half. The way we went into the game wasn’t the right way and at the end we get punished.”
However, it was the visitors who went closest to opening the scoring on 15’ when Rodney Wallace would have scored his second goal against DC this season if his deflected strike from the edge of the box had bounced inside the post rather than the opposite side.
Possibly fearing another four-goal blitz, the hosts sat back and invited NYCFC to try and break them down in a tight first half period characterized by midfield skirmishing and few clear chances on goal.
There was one more moment of concern for Bill Hamid in the first half on 43’ when Maxime Chanot played a beautiful ball in behind the opposition defense and David Villa clipped in a cross which was met by the head of Maxi Moralez but the DC ‘keeper gathered.
NYCFC had grown into the first half nicely but it was the home team who broke the deadlock on 52’ when Lloyd Sam capitalized on a defensive mixup and slotted past the onrushing Johnson.
Chasing the game, last week’s hero Tommy McNamara was the first man of the bench, replacing Wallace and he almost came up with the goods immediately after his introduction, forcing Hamid into a good stop with a curling strike from the angle of the box.
As NYCFC continued to pile forward, DC struck again against the run of play on 72’ through Acosta, who reacted quickest when Johnson was unfortunate to see his brilliant save from Sam’s snapshot land at the feet of the diminutive Argentine for the tap-in.
Khiry Shelton was sent on by Vieira to try and spark the fightback and Jack Harrison went close to pulling his team back within a goal on 81’ when he pounced on a Hamid spill from a Villa shot found the body of the goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, it was 2-1 when Villa’s third goal of the season ignited hopes of a late comeback.
El Guaje produced a typically clinical finish on the turn inside the area after some great wing play from McNamara teed him up.
The boys in blue ramped up the pressure in the closing minutes but couldn’t find a way through a stoic home backline.