D.C. United fell behind early in the second half to Minnesota United, but fought back to pick up a huge three points in a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night. Angelo Rodriguez put the Loons ahead in the 47th minute, forcing the Black-and-Red to have to score twice to get a win in the first of seven consecutive home games.
Ulises Segura scored his first goal since April 14th in the 65th minute, providing the impetus for United to claw the game back for a win. Four minutes later, substitute Darren Mattocks, one-timed a shot for the winner, inching D.C. closer to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Several days after only having 15 players available against New York City FC, head coach Ben Olsen was blessed with 18 healthy and available players against the Loons. Paul Arriola, who returned early from international duty with the US, took the place of Ian Harkes as the starting right midfielder. Oniel Fisher recovered from a hamstring injury to take over for Jalen Robinson at right back.
Minnesota started out on top in the second-ever meeting between the clubs, and their first look at goal came in the 8th minute. A cross from Jerome Thiesson fell in the box for Miguel Ibarra. Ibarra quickly struck, but Steven Birnbaum blocked the shot before it reached Bill Hamid.
The Black-and-Red crafted a well-worked move in the 14th minute, one which lacked the decisive final action. Joseph Mora found Wayne Rooney near the box, who immediately played back to Luciano Acosta. Acosta got the ball into the box for Ulises Segura, who had a cross looking for Arriola cut out by Marc Burch.
Acosta and Rooney worked a give and go in the 26th minute, with the English striker playing the ball over the back line. Acosta raced on into the box, and tried to chip the onrushing Bobby Shuttleworth, but couldn’t keep the effort down.
Darwin Quintero, the Loons’ danger man, nearly put the visitors ahead in the 32nd minute, but was denied by an excellent save from Hamid. Getting around several challenges near United’s box, Quintero got the ball onto his favored left foot and tried to curl a shot by Hamid, who had to stretch to his right to push the shot away.
Rooney and Acosta combined again in the 38th minute, but Acosta tried to chip the ball over Shuttleworth and then get another touch, but ran out of real estate in earning a corner. Two minutes later, Rooney worked himself free just outside the box, forcing Shuttleworth into a save at the near post.
Rodriguez couldn’t find the target in the 41st minute, and then Abu Danladi had a cross saved by Hamid just before halftime. Segura was denied by Shuttleworth moments later, and Oniel Fisher had a follow-up shot blocked out as the game went into the break scoreless.
Coming out of the break, United fell behind almost immediately. Committing numbers forward, the Black-and-Red were caught out on the break by Quintero. The playmaker found Rodriguez wide, and the Colombian charged into the box before having a shot blocked by Kofi Opare. The ball fell right back at the feet of Rodriguez, who slammed a shot past Hamid for a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute.
Three minutes later, Quintero, sped away from United’s defense and fired a shot that skipped just wide of the post. A corner was given, much to the chagrin of D.C., who were adamant that Hamid never touched the ball. However, Minnesota couldn’t make the corner count, as a foul was quickly called in the box by referee Silviu Petrescu.
Quintero found Rodriguez once again in the 63rd minute, as United struggled to recover from falling behind, but Rodriguez couldn’t double his tally, firing over the goal from a similar spot where he scored earlier.
It looked like United might struggle to get something out of the game, but an unlikely hero got the Black-and-Red level in the 65th minute. A pass from Acosta for Rooney just missed the striker in the box, but Segura collected with his back turned towards goal. Holding off Carter Manley, Segura was able to turn and slide a shot past Shuttleworth, for second goal of the campaign.
Quintero forced a great save out of Hamid in the 67th minute, as a shot that took a slight deflection off of Birnbaum was kept out.
That proved crucial, as two minutes later D.C. took the lead. A long ball down the left flank from Acosta found Joseph Mora matched up against Manley. Manley slipped trying to defend, giving Mora all the room he needed to break into the box. Mattocks, who had come into the game in the 58th minute, won the race to meet Mora’s delivery, prodding home for his team-leading 10th goal of the season.
There was still plenty of time for Minnesota, a side destined to miss the playoffs in their second year in the league, to grab a point back. In the 77th minute, Rodriguez got into the box, but had his shot blocked by Birnbaum.
The Loons continued to get numbers forward, but neither side came particularly close to finding a goal late on. Olsen brought on Frederic Brillant to shore up the back line, while Adrian Heath brought on Frantz Pangop and Ibson looking to turn the tide for Minnesota.
Pangop had a chance late in stoppage time, working himself free towards the top of the box, before sending a shot well wide of Hamid’s goal. Mora conceded a late free kick, but Minnesota couldn’t capitalize, and United held on for a 2-1 win.
United, with 34 points from 27 games, play the second of seven consecutive home games on Sunday, when they host the New York Red Bulls.