D.C. United drew for the second straight time last Saturday, tying the Houston Dynamo 1-1 after an entertaining, end to end game at RFK Stadium. United struck first after earning a free kick thirty yards from goal which was converted by midfielder Chris Rolfe, whose bending crack beat Houston keeper Tyler Deric to the top right corner of the goal half an hour into the match.
D.C. failed to capitalize on a number of chances after the opening goal, with shots from forward Jairo Arrieta and midfielder Michael Farfan failing to beat Deric. Houston also wasted a number of first half chances, but were often forced to take shots from distance as D.C.’s defense proved tough to break down during the opening 45 minutes.
The game opened up in the second half, with both teams coming much closer to scoring on more occasions than they had in the first period. Early attempts on goal from Farfan and midfielder Perry Kitchen were quickly responded to by shots by Houston forward Giles Barnes which forced saves by D.C. goalie Andrew Dykstra, starting in place of Bill Hamid who was scratched due to a thigh contusion suffered in the previous game, a 2-2 home draw against the New York Red Bulls.
Houston finally managed to break through United’s defense after Dykstra’s wonder-save on forward Will Bruin deflected right into the path of midfielder Ricardo Clark, who slammed the ball home to tie the game in the 65 minute.
Houston struggled to create chances following the goal, and were forced to play mostly defensively after Bruin, a substitute, was himself subbed off at the start of stoppage time due to what appeared to be a hamstring problem. D.C. had myriad chances after the goal to regain the lead but failed to find a way past Deric and his experienced backline, and the game ended 1-1.
D.C. United now travel to Vancouver to take on the first place Whitecaps, who have captivated the league early on with their entertaining style of play and popular cast of young players. United’s defense will have to be wary of players such as Octavio Rivero, currently the league’s top scorer, and Kekuta Manneh, a speedy winger who has no trouble bagging goals, both of whom the Whitecaps have used very effectively this season.
Vancouver in turn will have to look out for returning attacking options for United in Luis Silva and Fabián Espíndola. The two were the joint top scorers for United last season, each with 11 goals in league play and are set to rejoin the starting lineup after extended absences due to injury (Silva) and suspension (Espíndola). Silva has already scored once this season in league play, coming off the bench against Orlando to deliver a set piece winner, while Espíndola bagged a goal against Costa Rican outfit Alajuelense during United’s CONCACAF Champions League campaign.