D.C. United thought they had Austin FC beat, but a wild final few minutes saw the visitors come from two goals down to defeat the Black-and-Red 3-2 at Audi Field. After a 30-minute delay due to lightning, United’s best half of the season thus far saw them go up 2-0 on an Ola Kamara brace, but Kamara was also sent off just before halftime.
Austin offered little for most of the match, only to produce three goals from the 80th minute onward, with Ruben Gabrielsen’s 90th minute winner condemning United to a fourth straight loss, spoiling debuts for Designated Player Taxiarchis Fountas and homegrown player Jackson Hopkins.
United thought they had a 7th minute goal, as Julian Gressel’s tremendous pass from deep in the DCU half broke Austin’s lines and sent Ola Kamara in alone to fire past Brad Stuver, only for an offside call to foil Black-and-Red celebrations.
Kamara and Nigel Robertha collided on the doorstep as both tried to finish off a scramble from a corner soon thereafter, with Austin very lucky to escape without conceding. United then returned the favor, with Maxi Urruti stealing the ball off of Bill Hamid’s foot only to scoop his shot into the Chico Stand.
Hopkins missed narrowly wide in the 25th minute as United continued to dominate play. The visitors didn’t heed the warning, and Kamara put the Black-and-Red into the lead just a minute later. The Norwegian started the play, moving the ball wide for Gressel and Hopkins to combine. Hopkins’ cross didn’t find a target, but Andy Najar kept it alive, nodding it back to Kamara to sweep it past Stuver for his third goal of the season.
Austin had barely been in United’s end, but thought they’d pulled level in the 32nd minute, only for referee Tori Penso — via VAR — to spot that Urruti was yards offside on the play, keeping the scoreline 1-0.
United made sure their best half of the season added up to more than a one-goal lead, with Kamara making it 2-0 in the 40th minute. The Black-and-Red used a corner kick routine to get the goal, with a short corner going back to Gressel, who feigned to cross before squaring to a wide-open Kamara, who thundered a 13-yard shot through the crowd and in.
Austin nearly stole a goal in the 45th minute, with United working a miracle to keep it out. Alex Ring first clipped a ball from the endline for Julio Cascante, whose header from one yard out smacked off the crossbar. Austin tried again, with Sebastián Driussi’s effort blocked by a crowd, and Hamid had to get up to slap a looping effort away to end the threat.
Gressel nearly made it 3-0 in first half stoppage time, but the positive first half didn’t end as planned, as Kamara — booked earlier for removing his jersey to show a message on his undershirt — was given a second yellow from Penso deep in first-half stoppage time after an awkward foul along United’s endline.
United’s difficulties didn’t end there. Najar required a substitution in the 51st minute, and his replacement Chris Odoi-Atsem appeared to have his ankle landed on by Druissi just two minutes after coming on, eventually resulting in DCU bringing Gaoussou Samaké on for him right as they also brought Fountas in for his club debut.
Still, the Black-and-Red largely weathered Austin’s attempts to get back into the game, though they suffered through several players needing treatment in awkward falls along the way. Hamid made one stop on the line after an Austin free kick, but that was it for the first 30 minutes of the second half.
However, the visitors pulled a goal back, and for United it was a sadly familiar one to concede. A corner into the box was allowed to fall into the goalmouth, with substitute Danny Hoesen stabbing it home without any challenge.
Hoesen then nearly equalized just a minute later, blazing a close-range shot wide, but United still hadn’t come up with a reply. Austin then equalized in the 85th minute, with Driussi tapping in a cross at the back post. Penso again held play up for a lengthy VAR check, but this goal stood.
The visitors, sensing United’s fatigue, then hit the crossbar before producing a stunning winner. Felipe, facing his old club, served a ball to the back post for Ruben Gabrielsen, who did just enough to push the ball past Hamid and over the line to complete a staggering comeback.
United ended the match with Steven Birnbaum playing as a second forward, but Austin was able to kill off the eight minutes of stoppage time with a mix of burying the ball in the corner and some gamesmanship.
United will have little time to snap out of this poor run of results, as they make a return to the U.S. Open Cup for the first time since 2019 against NISA side Flower City Union this Tuesday, April 19, at 7:30pm in Rochester, NY.
MLS Regular Season - Game 6
D.C. United 2 (Kamara 26, 40)
Austin FC 3 (Hoesen 80, Driussi 85, Gabrielsen 90)
DCU (343): Bill Hamid; Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum (C), Brendan Hines-Ike; Julian Gressel (Drew Skundrich 89), Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin, Andy Najar (Chris Odoi-Atsem 51, Gaoussou Samaké 57); Nigel Robertha (Taxiarchis Fountas 58), Ola Kamara, Jackson Hopkins (Michael Estrada 89)
ATX (433): Brad Stuver; Nick Lima (Hector Jiménez 56), Julio Cascante, Ruben Gabrielsen, Jon Gallagher (Žan Kolmanič 56); Alex Ring (C) (Felipe Martins 69), Jhojan Valencia (Ethan Finlay 56), Daniel Pereira; Diego Fagundez, Maxi Urruti (Danny Hoesen 65), Sebastián Driussi
DCU - Kamara 27, Robertha 41, Kamara 52+ (sent off), Hopkins 73, Gressel 78, Samaké 87
ATX - Ring 35, Cascante 60, Pereira 70