While some of what occurred for D.C. United was not new to the team, they managed to not only defeat a foe they had not beaten in more than four years, they did so in front of the largest crowd at RFK Stadium in 18 months, beating Sporting Kansas City 1-0 to a happy group of 18,522.
The first half was one where Sporting made sure to pressure the D.C. back four and deep midfielder, sometimes resulting in throw-ins deep in the D.C. half or forcing an occasional turnover which to D.C.'s credit, resulted in little. This helped Sporting hold possession for 57.5% of the first half, with 83.4% passing accuracy (they finished at 61.2% and 81%, respectively). Additionally, Chris Korb went out due to injury in the 34th minute, replaced by Sean Franklin, seeing his first action since April 26.
Sporting was forced to make an early substitute also, as Aurelien Collin went off in the 9th, presuming reinjuring a hamstring he has already missed time for this season. He was replaced by Erik Palmer-Brown. The 19 year-old was tested early, having to deflect a 19th minute Eddie Johnson shot wide of an open net. However, in the 28th, Espindola in a right wing position hit an apparent cross from 25 yards out which kept curling, over the head of Erik Kronberg and in the net for a 1-0 lead.
The second half started well for D.C., as Espindola and Johnson saw separate opportunities thwarted by Sporting's defense. The high pressure Sporting employed in the first half continued as well as a 62nd minute Jacob Peterson header went wide. The teams exchanged substitutions (Jimmy Medranda for Alex Martinez for Sporting, Lewis Neal and Alex Caskey for Johnson and Nick DeLeon for D.C., respectively) and yellow cards (Antonio Dovale for Sporting, Cristian Fernandez and Espindola for D.C.), though a late and slightly soft yellow to Perry Kitchen in the 82nd minute will force him to miss next week's game for accumulated cards. A 94th minute challenge by Alex Caskey was a clumsy one, resulting in the youngster's dismissal. However, despite the lackluster, even submissive second half, Bobby Boswell and Jeff Parke continued to hold the fort down in back while Bill Hamid let nothing past him for another shutout for D.C., tying them for the MLS lead (as of this writing) and matching their total for the season. Additionally, the team has allowed three goals in their last five matches.
Ben Olsen had particular praise for Espindola, saying, "He's a warrior...You guys didn't know he was throwing up Wednesday all day," going further to say "we've had a bug with this team now for a good 10 days I think it's run its course through the team," speculating that this illness may have shown in periods with the team's performance. He had no information on Korb's injury, saying, "It seems minor, but I'll know in a day or two."
Hamid said "it was good that the backline stayed strong...the midfield stayed strong, but upon learning the last time D.C. beat Sporting was in his professional debut, brightened his countenance all the more so when asked about that day. "I was nervous as hell, I was shaking the whole time..."
D.C. (6-4-3) regains second place in the Eastern Conference and will host the Columbus Crew at FedEx Field Saturday. Sporting Kansas City (5-5-4) drops to third, two points back (though giving a game to D.C. and first place New England) and goes to Houston Friday.