D.C. United vs. Real Salt Lake: United claim deserved 1-0 win

Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports

After a scoreless first half, D.C. United broke their duck for the season through a Lionard Pajoy rebound header. Recap here.

That's more like it. Ben Olsen shifted his formation and made adjustments throughout the match, but the end result was there: 1-0 to the good guys. Lionard Pajoy's second-half finish put United ahead, and they would hold on through RSL pressure late to win 1-0.

The game started slowly, both sides clogging midfield and generally feeling each other out. Around the 25-minute mark, United made a switch that defined the rest of the half, moving Chris Pontius out wide and Marcos Sanchez into the middle. Pontius immediately found more of the ball, while Sanchez found small pockets of space to operate and funnel possession to his teammates. Within just a couple minutes after the switch, Pontius found Nick DeLeon lurking at the far post, but the second-year player's header went wide of the frame.

CP13 had the best chance of the half in the 32nd minute, combining with Lionard Pajoy for a run in the left channel. Pontius' left-footed shot was saved at the near post and cleared for a corner. United undoubtedly had the better and more numerous chances of the half, D.C.'s double pivot of John Thorrington and Perry Kitchen frustrating RSL's buildup play down the middle.

The second half started out as an extension of the first, with United asking all the questions but not really generating many quality chances. That all changed in the 59th minute, when Lionard Pajoy's diving header off a rebound put United ahead. The chance was created by John Thorrington, whose chip to the top corner from outside the box was saved by Nick Rimando, but only got as far as Pajoy, who put it away.

United would create a few more chances, a couple courtesy of Carlos Ruiz, appearing in relief of a tiring Pajoy late on, but RSL came into the match more and more as the second half wore on, pressuring Bill Hamid's goal, but never forcing a really difficult save from the 'keeper.

Outside of the win, the story of the night will be John Thorrington's knee. The midfielder was much stronger today in a deeper midfield role than he was in Houston as an attacking mid last weekend, but his night ended in the 75th minute when his knee twisted as he blocked a shot in the United box. He was replaced by Saragosa and will undergo an MRI on Monday.

In the end, United withstood the pressure and emerged with a deserved 1-0 win. After the first 20 minutes, there was little question about who the better team on the field was. All in all, not a bad night.

Stephen will be in tomorrow with The Last Word. Until then, let us hear your thoughts in the comments.

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