D.C. United played more than 45 minutes up by two players against FC Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon, but could not find a goal in a 0-0 draw at Audi Field. The result, coupled with a Toronto FC win over the Columbus Crew, means that United finish the 2019 regular season in 5th place in the Eastern Conference. The Black-and-Red will travel to take on the Reds in the opening round of the playoffs, to be played on October 19th or 20th.
Red cards to Joseph Gyau and Roland Lamah in quick succession changed the complex of the game late in the first half. But United, without the services of the suspended Wayne Rooney, could never find the goal in the second half, forcing them to head out on the road to start the playoffs.
Needing a win to absolutely ensure their fourth place spot in the East, United came out of the gates flying, pressing high to put the visitors under pressure. In the 3rd minute, Paul Arriola had a shot blocked at the far post, after a corner from Felipe Martins fell kindly.
Lucas Rodriguez then just couldn’t get the right touch on a cross from Ulises Segura in the 5th minute, as the shot from the Argentine looped over the goal. Two minutes later, Segura took his chance, cutting inside a defender in the box, but smashing a shot that hit off of Nick Hagglund, and then the upright, as Cincinnati cleared the danger.
Cincinnati were able to finally get a grasp of United’s press, and broke out in the 17th minute. That play ended up with midfielder Fatai Alashe taking possession at the top of the box, and firing a shot that was saved by Bill Hamid.
United’s early advantage was evened out, as both sides settled into the game. However, late in the first half, the game was turned upside down, as the visitors had two players sent off in quick succession. First, it was Joseph Gyau, who was shown a red for a high tackle on Segura.
Then, in the mess after that tackle, Roland Lamah grabbed Felipe Martins around the neck, and pushed him down to the ground. That incident wasn’t immediately spotted by referee David Gantar, but a video review resulted in a red card for Lamah.
From the resulting free kick near midfield, United punched the ball in the back of the net. Segura supplied the finish, but another video review took the goal away, as Segura was ruled offside on the initial header in the box from the free kick.
Down to nine players, Cincinnati came out in the second half, sitting deep defensively. That led Head Coach Ben Olsen to bring on Luciano Acosta quickly, with Ola Kamara joining the ranks in the 69th minute.
Acosta fired over on a cut back from Arriola in the 63rd minute, before Arriola had a shot saved by Przemyslaw Tyton just a minute later. The Polish keeper then came up with a miraculous save in the 70th minute, when he saved a bullet header from Acosta.
It was the Argentine who had the majority of United’s chances late on, as the waves of attacks kept coming from the Black-and-Red. But a shot in the 75th minute skipped just wide, and an effort in the 81st minute whizzed just by the cross bar.
Rodriguez had a deflected strike fly agonizingly wide in the 90th minute, before Russell Canouse bounced a header into the ground, which caused the ball to skip over the goal in stoppage time. One last chance for Acosta fell just before the final whistle, but Acosta couldn’t keep his shot on target from the top of the box.
United finish the season with 50 points, good enough for 5th in the Eastern Conference.
MLS Regular Season (Game 34)
D.C. United 0
FC Cincinnati 0
DCU (4231): Bill Hamid; Russell Canouse, Frederic Brillant (C), Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Felipe (Leonardo Jara 67), Junior Moreno; Ulises Segura (Luciano Acosta 56), Paul Arriola, Lucas Rodriguez; Quincy Amarikwa (Ola Kamara 69)
FCC (4141): Przemyslaw Tyton; Mathieu Deplagne, Maikel van der Werff, Nick Hagglund (C), Greg Garza; Leonardo Bertone; Roland Lamah, Fatai Alashe (Kendall Waston 73), Caleb Stanko (Thomas McCabe 85), Joe Gyau; Emmanuel Ledesma (Andrew Gutman 94+)
DCU - Mora 38
FCC - Deplagne 14, Bertone 30, Gyau 42 (red), Lamah 44 (red), Stanko 85