For all the troubles that D.C. United faced over the past two days, it would have been completely reasonable for the Black-and-Red to happily settle for a point on the road against Sporting Kansas City. It was a hassle even getting to the stadium, with the team stuck in Chicago due to bad weather until just hours before last night's game started.
Kickoff was pushed back by a couple of hours, and then there was the downpour at halftime, which ended up delaying the start of the second half by nearly an hour. With footing difficult in the second half, chances were few and far between for both teams. As such, it appeared that United's winless streak in MLS road games, which dated back to last August against the Montreal Impact, would continue.
And then just when it seemed like the bizarre day was petering out, United debutant Alhaji Kamara came off the bench and scored a goal 33 seconds later, giving United an unlikely 1-0 win in Kansas.
"To find something out of this game after a long two days, feels really good," United manager Ben Olsen said after the game.
Before Kamara made his way into the game for Lamar Neagle in the 85th minute, United managed just a single shot on goal, a long range effort from Jared Jeffrey that keeper Tim Melia was able so save with ease. But it only took a single moment for Kamara to change the game, as he challenged Melia for a cross in the box.
"I saw the ball come in. I tried to nod the ball into the goal," Kamara said in the locker room after the game. "But when we fought for the ball, I saw the ball on the ground. Immediately I just reacted."
That reaction allowed the Sierre Leone international the opportunity to fire in past Ike Opara, who had retreated to guard the otherwise empty net. Just like that, United walked away with a road victory for the first time in almost 10 months.
"It's great, I'm so happy for him. He's been through a lot. He's a wonderful guy," said Olsen. "I couldn't be happier for him. The team couldn't be happier for him, because they know what he's been going through. It's always nice on your debut to get a goal."
And in the larger sense of the season, the goal and the win puts United back on track. Ten consecutive games on the road without a win in MLS play had the team smarting, especially when you consider games like last week's 1-0 loss in Philadelphia (a game won in stoppage time by the Union). Coupled with a less than stellar home record this year, United will have to pick up points on the road the rest of the season if they want to make the playoffs for the third season running.
So to overcome the odds on Friday night, to overcome the difficulties with the travel and the weather, it felt like the ship may have steered back in the right direction for the Black-and-Red.
"We have dropped a lot of points in a lot of games," captain Bobby Boswell told B&RU after the game. "We have looked at it, and we understand that we're going to have to win a lot of games to reach the goals that we have set. It's a great place to start, a win on the road."
More than anything on the night though, players and coaches alike were ecstatic for Kamara, and the flying start that his MLS career got off to. It's been a long road for him after UEFA ruled him ineligible to play after finding an issue with his heart during a routine check up last year.
Six months without playing later, and Kamara is already making his mark with his new team.
"I feel good. I want to be part of the this team. I want to be part of the family. So it feels great," said Kamara.