D.C. United had chances, but their first away game of the season ended with a 0-0 draw at New York City FC. Despite a lack of possession throughout the match, United forced NYCFC’s goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, to complete three magnificent saves. The Black-and-Red managed moments of brilliance in the offense, but needed Bill Hamid to come up with three top saves of his own to secure a point.
United began their first away game of the season with intensity, but fell victim to NYCFC’s aggressive manner. The Boys in Blue recorded 4 fouls within the first 5 minutes. United, however, overcame the home side’s forceful efforts and gained defensive and offensive momentum in the early going.
In the 4th minute of the match, Wayne Rooney made a potentially goal-saving stop by tackling Alexandru Mitrita on the 18th after the Romanian found a way to penetrate United’s midfield on the counter attack.
After moments of high pressing, Rooney, Paul Arriola and Luciano Acosta linked up inside NYCFC’s box to secure their first threatening play of the match in the 11th minute. Rooney slipped a pass to Arriola through a seam in the home side’s defense, and Arriola squared to Acosta, who was robbed by Johnson’s diving save.
City did not take their opponent’s opportunity lightly, and began to press. The home side found themselves in United’s box a couple times, but could not find the back of the net.
United maintained an intense tempo, keeping NYCFC on their toes. The Black-and-Red took advantage of the home side’s sloppy passing, allowing Arriola to gain possession and fire the ball into Johnson, who completed another great save. Arriola’s attempt led to a corner, but referee Nima Saghafi called a foul on United moments before Rooney fired a loose ball home.
The home side continued to dominate as United’s 3rd corner of the match allowed them to find the ball and sprint towards Hamid, resulting in 5 blue shirts inside the box and space for Mitrita to attempt a shot on goal.
Moments later, NYC found another opportunity to penetrate the Black-and-Red, enabling their captain, Alexander Ring, to fire the ball from outside the box. Bill Hamid, however, was up to the challenge, making the difficult save.
D.C struggled to maintain possession after the 32nd minute, depending on their defensive efforts to stay in the game. NYCFC came back after the break with a similar energy, piling up possession and dictating the tempo.
In the 47th minute, Leonardo Jara’s defensive efforts were barely enough to force Valentin Castellanos to head the ball wide of the goal after Maxi Moralez chipped the ball back across the box.
Finally, 6 minutes after NYCFC’s opportunity, United began to press again, and headed towards their opponent’s box, allowing Arriola to shoot the ball slightly wide.
Moments later, Jara was given a yellow card, breaking a 897 minute run without a yellow for United that extends back to Joseph Mora’s stoppage-time booking against Minnesota back on September 12th, 2018.
The 66th minute saw United’s closest chance yet. Mora sprinted forward to find Rooney, who completed a beautiful pass to Arriola. From an angle, Arriola tried to pick out Ulises Segura for what would have been a sure goal, only for Chanot to barely nudge the ball away.
In the 81st minute, Acosta capitalized on Rooney and Segura’s initial move into the home side’s box, but could only force Johnson to complete yet another wonderful save. This time, Johnson got a foot to Acosta’s low bid from 19 yards, robbing United again.
Just as the game appeared to be drifting towards a scoreless conclusion, NYCFC began to challenge United again. First, Bill Hamid completed his best save of the match by blocking a diving header from Alexander Ring following a cross from Anton Tinnerholm. Seconds later, Hamid excelled again by punching away a spinning ball after a shot from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi deflected off of Segura.
Despite NYC’s dominance in possession and attack, United’s energy and intensity did not dwindle. The Black and Red attempted to exploit set pieces and moments on the ball, but were unlucky in finishing.
United will look to stay unbeaten next week, as they host Real Salt Lake next Saturday night at 8:00pm.
MLS Regular Season (Game 2)
New York City FC 0
D.C. United 0
NYC (4231): Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat; James Sands, Alexander Ring; Jesus Medina (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi 69), Maxi Moralez, Alexandru Mitrita; Valentin Castellanos (Jonathan Lewis 75)
DCU (4231): Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse; Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez (Ulises Segura 63); Wayne Rooney
NYC - Chanot 27
DCU - Jara 57, Mora 74