In their first game after a 15 day break, D.C. United were moments away from a hard-earned point on the road at FC Dallas. Having scored immediately after conceding, United made it to stoppage time before allowing Fabian Castillo to score, condemning the Eastern Conference's top team to a 2-1 defeat.
United - without Bill Hamid in goal and Fabian Espindola up top - were second best for most of the night, but kept Dallas at bay for a large portion of the game thanks to the performance of Andrew Dykstra in goal. Kellyn Acosta made the breakthrough for the Hoops in the 73rd minute, but Taylor Kemp's cross induced an own goal from Matt Hedges to put United on the cusp of a point on the road.
Facundo Coria's burst forward in stoppage time looking for a winner was punished by Dallas as they quickly broke the other way, allowing Castillo to score his 8th goal of the season.
Kemp was the architect of the first chance of the game, as the left back served in an inviting corner in the 6th minute. Bobby Boswell was there to win the header, but directed his effort wide of the goal from 8 yards out.
From there, it was an avalanche of chances for Dallas to round out the first half. Acosta tried a long range effort that was deflected out for a corner, before Castillo got around Chris Korb in the box, only to see his pass end up in a free kick for United.
A counter from Dallas through Mauro Diaz gave Acosta another opportunity from long range, with the shot ending up over the goal. Diaz then had a half volley from the top of the box that tested Dykstra, but United's back up expertly pushed the shot over for a corner.
Diaz had another opportunity in the 26th minute, as Ryan Hollingshead's cross was deflected through the box. Diaz collected the loose ball, but only managed a shot from a tight angle that Dykstra was able to smother.
Castillo had two great opportunities in the dying moments of the half to give Dallas the lead, only to be stymied by Dykstra twice. Acosta's perfectly weighted early cross found Castillo in behind United's defense, but the Colombian couldn't get his header past Dysktra. Castillo then rounded Boswell in the box, but was denied by Dysktra at the near post.
The second half started much the same way that the first ended, with Dallas in control, though United were able to limit the scoring opportunities early on. In the 53rd minute, Atiba Harris' ball in the box was knocked down by David Texeira. The header found Castillo, but the half volley on the swivel was wide of the mark.
United survived that Dallas surge in the second half, and created a few chances of their own after the hour mark. Jairo Arrieta beat out Zach Loyd for a long ball on the left, before working his way into the box. With options to pass, Arrieta went for goal, but saw his effort harmlessly deflected into the arms of Dan Kennedy.
In the 63rd minute, Chris Rolfe went close to finding the opening goal of the game. Arrieta collected a long ball up top and waited for Rolfe to make his run near the box. Arrieta got the ball to his target, but Rolfe's one-timed left footed shot rolled just wide of the far post. Diaz was inches away from the woodwork moments later, after spinning Kemp in the middle of the field. The shot from 30 yards out was just wide of the post, with Dykstra at full stretch.
The crossbar then made the next big save for United, as Harris thought he'd given FCD the lead. Hollingshead's cross following a half-cleared corner found Harris at the back post, and the header beat Dysktra. Fortunately for United, it bounced off the bar then off the line, allowing United to clear temporarily.
Texeira then missed a golden opportunity to give Dallas the lead, after Diaz's nifty footwork out wide. The cross from Diaz found an unmarked Texeira 10 yards out from goal, but the striker whipped his header wide of the goal.
Dallas' deserved breakthrough finally came in the 73rd minute, as Acosta scored his first MLS goal. Michael Barrios worked into the box after receiving a pass and tried to get a cross into the middle, which deflected off of Boswell's back. That loose ball fell to Texeira, and after collecting a further deflection off Birnbaum he sent another ball into the middle where Acosta got in front of Perry Kitchen to stab home from close range.
Up to that point, United's chances had been few and far between, but within four minutes, they were back on level terms. Miguel Aguilar - who had come on at the half for Korb - sent a shot just wide of Kennedy's net a minute after Acosta's goal. That eventually paved way for the equalizer. Rolfe received the ball in Dallas' half, and quickly played out to the left for Kemp, who was wide open. Kemp one-timed a cross into the middle, where the ball just eluded Arrieta. It did not elude Hedges, however, who couldn't do anything other than knock the ball into his own net to level the scores at 1-1.
Aguilar had another opportunity in the 83rd minute, but after collecting a pass from Arrieta, the rookie midfielder sent his shot over the goal.
United had to see out four minutes of stoppage time, but failed to do so as Castillo netted the winner in the 92nd minute. Coria was dispossessed in the Dallas half while looking to create a potential winner for United. The Hoops quickly went the other way, working the ball out wide before finding Tesho Akindele in plenty of space outside the box. Akindele cut the ball back for Victor Ulloa, whose shot was blocked by an outstretched Kemp. The ball fell cruelly to Castillo, who made no mistake from seven yards for the 2-1 lead.
Arrieta's header from a Coria corner in the dying moments was easily held by Kennedy, condemning United to their second consecutive loss in league play, and third overall in all competitions.
United, with 35 points from 22 games, return to action next Sunday at RFK, against the Philadelphia Union.