D.C. United overcame an early bit of bad luck, coming back to claim a deserved 2-1 win over CF Montreal. Zachary Brault-Guillard’s mis-hit cross gave the visitors a lead, but Andy Najar’s first goal in just under a decade for United leveled the score before halftime, and Ola Kamara notched his tenth of the season early in the second half to give the Black-and-Red their second straight victory.
Hernán Losada, once again facing a short turnaround, made four changes to the team that beat Columbus 4-2 on Wednesday. Bill Hamid, out with a hamstring injury, was replaced in goal by Jon Kempin, while Paul Arriola returned from a Gold Cup win with the USMNT. United also brought Moses Nyeman and Joseph Mora, who were suspended midweek, back into the team.
United carved out the game’s first serious chances inside the first seven minutes. Arriola fired over the bar with the first, while a slick sequence saw Arriola slide a pass to the left for Kevin Paredes, who from close range had his shot well-saved by Sebastian Breza. Soon thereafter, Arriola had a 15th minute bullet blocked by Breza after good wok from Moses Nyeman as United virtually set up shop in Montreal’s half.
However, the visitors got on the board with their first meaningful move forward. Zachary Brault-Guillard ran onto a long ball out on the right flank, and hit a hopeful cross. There weren’t any runners, but Brault-Guillard’s service didn’t need help, as his sliced cross floated over Kempin and in to hand United a surprising 16th minute deficit.
With the lead, Montreal dropped even deeper, letting United have long spells of possession but fewer chances. Arriola threatened a couple of times, while Andy Najar’s run on the dribble saw him go past three gray-clad players before firing over the bar in the 34th minute.
Finally, though, Montreal’s tendency to foul caught up with them, and United drew level on a 40th minute set piece. Julian Gressel’s delivery from the right was inch-perfect, and Najar rose up unmarked to thump home his first goal for United since September 29, 2011.
United were lucky to go into the break level, though, as Sunusi Ibrahim latched onto another dangerous long ball in the 44th minute. The 18-year-old attacker rounded Kempin, but could only direct his shot towards the unguarded net wide.
Gressel nearly put United in front shortly after the second half began, after Paredes cut inside to square him the ball inside the box, but Breza produced another solid stop, guiding the rebound away from United’s other attackers.
Montreal were still struggling to cope, though, and United went up in the 53rd minute thanks to Ola Kamara’s tenth goal of the season. Tony Alfaro stepped high to win the ball, and that tackle rolled right to Kamara. With no one nearby, Kamara had all the time in the world to set himself before curling the ball confidently past Breza to make it 2-1.
Kamara nearly added another in the 67th minute as Gressel’s low cross got past Breza, but United’s top marksman was just barely not able to reach the ball from three yards. At the other end, Montreal had some sporadic threats, with a handball shout undone by the offside flag and a free shot from substitute Djordje Mihailovic going wide.
However, DCU were the more threatening side even with the lead. Drew Skundrich’s powerful strike from 25 yards looked sure to beat Breza, only to glance off Felipe, sparing Montreal’s blushes.
While the third goal never arrived, the Black-and-Red confidently saw the game out to pick up their second straight win and extend their unbeaten run to five games. United (8W-3D-7L) remain in 6th place in the East on 27 points, but can move up next weekend as they go on the road to face the team above them, Nashville SC, on Sunday, August 15 at 7:00pm.
MLS Regular Season - Game 18
D.C. United 2 (Najar 40, Kamara 54)
CF Montreal 1 (Brault-Guillard 16)
DCU (343): Jon Kempin; Andy Najar (Steven Birnbaum 77), Frédéric Brillant (C), Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Moses Nyeman (Felipe Martins 77), Junior Moreno, Joseph Mora; Paul Arriola (Drew Skundrich 68), Ola Kamara, Kevin Paredes (Yordy Reyna 81)
Montreal (433): Sebastian Breza; Zachary Brault-Guillard (Clément Bayiha 56), Joel Waterman, Kamal Miller, Zorhan Bassong (Mustafa Kizza 75); Samuel Piette (C), Emanuel Maciel, Mathieu Choinière (Rida Zouhir 75); Joaquín Torres (Mason Toye 56), Bjorn Johnsen, Sunusi Ibrahim (Djordje Mihailovic 46)
DCU - None
Montreal - Waterman 3, Miller 57