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D.C. United battles their way to 1-0 win over Sporting KC

Paul Arriola’s late goal handed the Black-and-Red the 3 points

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at D.C. United Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United triumphed over Sporting Kansas City with a 1-0 lead. A 79th minute strike by Paul Arriola, with an assist by Wayne Rooney, verified United’s dominance over their opponents throughout the game. Though Kansas City didn’t appear to be an easy adversary at first, their one momentary lack of defensive composure allowed for the Black-and-Red to swoop in and claim the three points.

Seconds after the initial whistle, both sides geared up for high pressing. Though the first half was riddled with collisions and tackles, the tone generated an immense intensity and hunger for three points.

Offensively, both United and Kansas City managed to penetrate each other’s boxes, but neither could get one past Bill Hamid or Tim Melia.

The 28th minute saw a lovely play between Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez and Arriola, leading the attack to reach the box, but Leonardo Jara fired over the goal.

Minutes later, a corner by Rooney inspired Steven Birnbaum head the ball toward the goal. Melia struggled to make the save at first, creating chaos inside the box, until the KC goalkeeper managed to get a grip again.

The home side managed to earn a few corner kicks that lit up the spectator’s eyes with hope. Rooney managed to pick out his target frequently, but United couldn’t find a way through.

In the 79th minute, United finally found a goal. After gaining possession in the midfield, Rooney dictated a simple one-on-one play with Arriola, who, upon receiving the ball, cut it inside of Nicolas Hasler and curled the shot past Melia for the 1-0 lead.

The Wizards responded to the goal with a chance from Krisztian Nemeth after he gained possession from a slip by Birnbaum, but the number 9 squandered the opportunity by shooting the ball wide.

United mostly looked assured, but had to survive a final chance deep in stoppage time. KC served a free kick in that Ulises Segura headed away, but a second ball into the area picked out young center back Graham Smith, whose free header mercifully bounced wide.

United, once again tied with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference, has little time before they step back on the field, as they face a trip to Canada to play Toronto FC on Wednesday night. Highlights will be added when they are made available.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season (Game 12)
D.C. United 1 (Arriola 79)
Sporting KC 0

DCU (4231): Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Marquinhos Pedroso; Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno; Paul Arriola (Chris Durkin 92+), Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez (Ulises Segura 75); Wayne Rooney (C)

SKC (433): Tim Melia; Nicolas Hasler, Botond Barath, Graham Smith, Seth Sinovic; Benny Feilhaber, Ilie Sanchez (C), Felipe Gutierrez (Kelyn Rowe 84); Johnny Russell, Krisztian Nemeth, Daniel Salloi (Yohan Croizet 65)

DCU - Brillant 45
SKC - Salloi 11