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Nine-man D.C. United holds off FC Cincinnati in 0-0 draw

Some offside goals early and some red cards late as United got out of TQL Stadium with a point

MLS: D.C. United at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Despite two second half red cards, D.C. United escaped their first visit to TQL Stadium with a 0-0 draw against FC Cincinnati. Moses Nyeman and Joseph Mora were both sent off — Nyeman a direct red, Mora for two yellow cards — but United managed to restrict Cincinnati to few true chances in the game’s final stages to secure a point away from home.

Hernán Losada, facing the start of the most grueling month of United’s schedule this year, made three changes to the team that beat the New York Red Bulls 1-0 last weekend. Steven Birnbaum and Moses Nyeman started ahead of Fréderic Brillant and Felipe Martins, while the third switch — Yordy Reyna replacing the team’s leading scorer, Ola Kamara — reportedly came down to injury, as Kamara left the last match with a cut tongue and possible concussion after being struck by a clearance.

United got off to their characteristic fast start, putting the ball past Kenneth Vermeer in the 3rd minute. Reyna showed some real savvy to keep the ball at the top of the box, bringing D.C. runners forward. Reyna then laid the ball off to Drew Skundrich on the right, and though the latter’s cross clipped a defender on its way in, Moses Nyeman was the beneficiary, sending a diving header into the back of the net.

However, referee Rosario Mendoza got a call from VAR, and eventually called the goal back, apparently ruling that Reyna was a step offside earlier in the build-up.

Reyna beat Vermeer with a low 25th minute shot after a perfectly-weighted through ball from Julian Gressel, but the refereeing crew correctly spotted that the Peruvian attacker was about a yard offside before his confident finish, keeping an open game scoreless.

Gressel forced Vermeer into a tricky 28th minute save from around 25 yards out on a direct free kick, while just seconds later Álvaro Barreal’s cutback from the right let him fire a shot that went just wide of Bill Hamid’s goal.

Kevin Paredes won a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box in the 51st minute, with Gressel forcing a reflex save from Vermeer, but moments later United got some bad news. Nyeman tried to turn backward and find some space to operate after a Black-and-Red corner, but Brenner pounced, stripping him of the ball at midfield. With no one between the Cincinnati striker and Hamid, Nyeman tugged Brenner’s arm, and Mendoza showed no hesitation in giving Nyeman a straight red in the 52nd minute.

The red card energized Cincinnati, with Hamid forced into a top save to deny Rónald Matarrita in the 59th minute. Still, United had a counter-attacking threat, with Reyna’s angled bid being denied by Vermeer in the 62nd minute after Hamid’s quick thinking sparked a break.

United may have been lucky that a 71st minute header from Gyau, rising up for Barreal’s cross, was right at Hamid from nine yards. Luciano Acosta, looking for a goal against his former club, picked up a loose ball that deflected off of Andy Najar’s heel in the 81st minute, but despite numerous touches close to goal, he could never quite open up a shooting angle as Hamid and the defense crowded him out.

Losada gave late substitute appearances to two long-term absentees, with Erik Sorga returning after nearly three months away with an injury and visa issues. Chris Odoi-Atsem, meanwhile, made his first competitive appearance for United since October 24 of last year.

In stoppage time, United lost Joseph Mora to a second yellow card, and that saw Cincinnati create their best chance of the entire night. Nick Hagglund, up from an earlier set piece, passed from the right to find substitute Brandon Vázquez, but Vázquez could only get a shin to the ball, guiding it mercifully wide of goal.

The draw sees United (6W-3D-7L) stay in 8th in the East on 21 points. It won’t be long before United returns to action with a trip to Ohio, as they face a road game against the Columbus Crew this Wednesday, August 4, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30pm.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 16
FC Cincinnati 0
D.C. United 0

FCC (4231): Kenneth Vermeer; Nick Hagglund, Geoff Cameron, Gustavo Vallecilla, Rónald Matarrita; Allan Cruz, Yuya Kubo; Álvaro Barreal (Brandon Vázquez 85), Luciano Acosta (C), Joe Gyau; Brenner

DCU (343): Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Steven Birnbaum (C), Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel (Chris Odoi-Atsem 85), Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Joseph Mora; Drew Skundrich (Felipe Martins 55), Yordy Reyna (Erik Sorga 75), Kevin Paredes (Yamil Asad 75)

FCC - Gyau 36, Acosta 60, Hagglund 64
DCU - Moreno 15, Mora 41, Nyeman 52 (red), Reyna 72, Mora 92+ (sent off)