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Tale of two halves sees D.C. United, San Jose Earthquakes battle to 1-1 draw

United’s comeback bid came up short again, leaving them frustrated heading into the Gold Cup break

Caitlin Buckley

D.C. United and the San Jose Earthquakes split the points, drawing 1-1 after a game of two halves before 18,002 at Audi Field. San Jose dominated the first half, eventually taking a 37th minute lead via Chris Wondolowski. However, the Black-and-Red were revitalized at halftime, notching a 67th equalizer thanks to Luciano Acosta.

The teams exchanged half-chances early, with Wayne Rooney’s attempted lob and Ulises Segura’s shot from an angle both going just over Daniel Vega’s bar at one end. At the other, Chris Wondolowski should have done better with a 13th minute chance with United’s defense flat-footed, while Danny Hoesen shot tamely at Bill Hamid a few minutes later.

Ben Olsen was forced into an early substitution, replacing Russell Canouse — who seemed slowed by a knock after the first few minutes — with Leonardo Jara and shuffling his 3421 formation around. San Jose, perhaps sensing the unfamiliarity, carved out the game’s best chance up to that point in the 30th minute. Shea Salinas got to the endline before looking to force a cross into traffic. His service clipped Steven Birnbaum’s chest and looked like it might become an own goal. Hoesen tried to nod it in to be sure, but he couldn’t make contact, and Hamid made a tricky, acrobatic save.

The Quakes kept at it, forcing a wild scramble inside the Black-and-Red’s box in the 32nd minute that saw Hamid make an initial save on Hoesen. He couldn’t hold onto the bid, though, and Wondolowski perhaps let United off the hook, opting to pass backward instead of back-heeling into an unguarded net. The pass back still found Hoesen, whose thunderous low shot was well-blocked by a sliding Frederic Brillant.

San Jose finally got the breakthrough their play deserved in the 37th minute. With United defending deep, Nick Lima was able to get an inswinging cross in from the left. Birnbaum was drawn towards the near post by Salinas, and Wondolowski scored his 151st career goal by escaping Jalen Robinson before heading past Hamid. United wanted an offside call, but replays showed that MLS’s all-time leading goalscorer was kept on.

Being out-shot 17 to 3 at the break, United returned to their preferred 4231 formation to start the second half, and immediately began to look more dangerous. Rooney’s 47th minute free kick from out on the left sailed just barely over the bar with Vega beaten, and within the next five minutes D.C. forced the visitors to concede four corner kicks. The last in the series saw Birnbaum beat Florian Jungwirth to the ball, but his lunging shot zipped over the bar.

United suddenly tilted the field, forcing Vega into two strong saves in the 55th minute. First, Jara followed up after a tackle, picking up the ball in midfield before lacing a shot that Vega saved by sprawling to his right. Luciano Acosta picked up the rebound outside the box, curling the ball back across the goal only to be denied by an even better stop. United kept the play alive, and Junior Moreno’s dipping volley was destined for the upper corner before Vega somehow clawed the ball away.

Olsen was forced to go to his bench again in the 62nd minute, after an ugly clash of heads left Birnbaum badly bleeding. After a long stoppage, Chris Odoi-Atsem replaced Birnbaum, but to their credit the Black-and-Red kept bossing the half.

Finally, with their 9th shot of the second stanza, United got level in the 67th minute. Jara, again having come inside to an unorthodox position, had a go from about 24 yards out. Vega made the save, but this time he didn’t push the rebound to safety, and Acosta raced onto it before striking low across the face of goal, tucking it in at the opposite post.

United’s pressure was unrelenting. A brief shout for a handball saw Remy Touchan briefly receive a call from VAR before opting not to review the incident, while Acosta and Jara worked some magic in the 80th minute only for Acosta’s shot to trickle inches wide of the back post.

A rare Quakes counter nearly spoiled United’s night in the 83rd minute, with Hoesen going near post only for Odoi-Atsem to arrive in the nick of time to block the shot out for a corner.

United pushed for a winner, but nearly gave up another last-gasp goal in the 95th minute. This time, substitute Siad Haji shook Acosta before slipping a through ball in for Wondolowski, who pushed the ball easily past Hamid. However, Wondolowski’s celebrations were cut short, as he was correctly caught offside.

Despite over 10 minutes of stoppage time, owing to the Birnbaum injury and several stoppage time delays, neither team could create another chance.

United enters their 25-day Gold Cup break winless in five, though they’ve also lost just once in six. Their next game will come in the U.S. Open Cup’s 4th round, as they play host to the Philadelphia Union on June 12th.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season (Game 17)
D.C. United 1 (Acosta 67)
San Jose Earthquakes 1 (Wondolowski 37)

DCU (3421): Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant, Jalen Robinson, Steven Birnbaum (Chris Odoi-Atsem 62); Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse (Leonardo Jara 25), Junior Moreno, Lucas Rodriguez; Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta; Wayne Rooney (C)

Quakes (4231): Daniel Vega; Paul Marie (Eric Calvillo 73), Harold Cummings, Florian Jungwirth, Nick Lima; Anibal Godoy, Florian Jungwirth; Shea Salinas (Siad Haji 87), Vako, Danny Hoesen; Chris Wondolowski (C)

DCU - Rooney 98+, Arriola 100+
Quakes - Vako 66, Cummings 85, Lima 92+