Faced with a bizarrely-timed friendly, D.C. United — or some semblance thereof — held on for a 1-1 draw against Honduran giants CD Olimpia at Audi Field. Dane Kelly opened the scoring in the 17th minute, but United’s lead vanished quickly as Diego Reyes drew his side level in the 19th minute. Olimpia had the lion’s share of the chances, but strong work from Kevin Ellis and Travis Worra helped United hang on.
Ben Olsen, looking to rest his regulars after a grueling late summer slate, fielded an unconventional starting lineup. There were starts for several rarely-used reserves, with United veteran Jared Jeffrey captaining the side from left back, while three call-ups from the Richmond Kickers — Matthew Bolduc, Raul Gonzalez, and Prince Agyemang — all got starts in a 4231 formation.
After a couple Olimpia shots from distance went over the bar, United carved out the game’s first real chance. Dane Kelly won a corner, which Bruno Miranda whipped in at the near post. Recent signing Kevin Ellis was able to get his head to it in space, but ended up nodding the service over the bar.
United would open the scoring in the 17th minute with a little bit of help from Olimpia goalkeeper Edrick Menjivar. A long ball from Kevin Ellis found Kelly splitting the center backs. With the ball still bouncing, Kelly fired an awkward early shot at Menjivar, who nonetheless looked to be in position for an easy save. However, he couldn’t get down to his right fast enough, and Kelly’s bid skipped off his gloves and in.
Olimpia would respond with a very similar goal just two minutes later. This time, a long ball skipped between D.C.’s makeshift central defensive duo, with Honduran international Diego Reyes racing onto it. Reyes took a touch before picking out the lower corner, leaving Travis Worra with no chance to make a stop.
Los Leones repeatedly managed to create dangerous crossing opportunities attacking United’s left side, forcing Ellis into a couple of last-gasp interventions. One of those became a 33rd minute corner that Kevin Alvarez met with a free header, only for it to strike a crowd of players in the goalmouth. The ball tantalizingly sat on the turf just yards from goal for a moment before the Black-and-Red could scramble it clear.
With the final play of the half, Olimpia nearly took the lead. Ever Alvarado’s perceptive through ball sent former New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson in alone on Worra, but United’s netminder raced off his line quickly, closing the distance and allowing him to do just enough to make the save. Bengtson collected the rebound, but his low-angle shot hit Ellis and went out of play.
United made an effort to slow play down after halftime, and their patience was nearly awarded in the 51st minute. Jeffrey ran onto a crossfield pass from Ian Harkes, keeping the ball in with a difficult first touch before cutting inside of winger Junior Lacayo. From just inside the Olimpia box, Jeffrey laced a shot that appeared to have Menjivar beaten only for it to blaze inches over the bar.
Worra produced another strong save in the 61st minute, racing off his line just like he did to end the first half to deny Reyes after a giveaway in the back fell right to former Houston Dynamo striker Carlo Costly. Costly quickly found Reyes in alone against Worra, but the goalkeeper gave him no angle, making a crucial save.
United sent in more guest players, with Kevin Eaton replacing Gonzalez in the 62nd minute followed by Koby Osei-Wusu coming in for Kelly ten minutes later, and Olimpia began to take control of proceedings. However, the next look fell to United, with Chris Durkin stepping up to read a potential turnover. Durkin won the ball off of Deybi Flores before charging forward. With no options, he went for goal, but his venomous 79th minute strike soared just a yard over the crossbar.
Olimpia replied with a shot from Flores just a minute later, with Worra saving fairly comfortably after the former Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder had a go from 25 yards. Worra had a tougher save in the 84th minute, after a shot from the left from substitute Alejandro Reyes. Worra got down sharply to make the stop before Durkin thumped the ball away from danger.
Despite Olimpia’s insistence on a late winner, United held firm at the back in sealing off a 1-1 draw. D.C. is off this weekend, and will return to play with a crucial home match against the Montreal Impact on September 29.
Highlights will be added when they are made available.