Having picked up points in three of their last four games, D.C. United failed to keep the momentum going on Sunday night, losing 2-0 at home to New York City FC. Alvaro Saborio had a golden opportunity to put United ahead in the first half, but the Costa Rican couldn't capitalize, sending what could have been his 4th goal of the season over the bar. That set the stage for NYCFC to take the game in a three-minute stretch in the second half, as David Villa and Khiry Shelton both scored to hand the visitors a win on the road.
Marcelo Sarvas and Nick DeLeon returned to the starting lineup after missing last week's draw against the Chicago Fire with a suspension and illness, respectively. Saborio and Luciano Acosta got another start up top for Ben Olsen, with Fabian Espindola and Chris Rolfe unavailable.
The game got off to a slow start by both sides, as NYC controlled possession early on, without much to do in front of goal. Mikey Lopez had the first look at goal in the 9th minute, as Ronald Matarrita's cross found the midfielder, but Lopez could only send his header wide at the near post.
Lopez then had a cross in the 11th minute cut out by Sean Franklin with Thomas McNamara making the run into the box. At the other end, Lamar Neagle played DeLeon out wide on the right, but his cross into the middle just missed connecting with Saborio.
RJ Allen then fired a shot wide from the side of the box in the 15th minute, before Josh Saunders claimed Taylor Kemp's cross. In the 25th minute, Villa couldn't quite get on the end of Allen's cross, which eluded Travis Worra as well before the Black-and-Red were able to clear the danger.
Patrick Nyarko, who had been sick before the start of the game, and then was ineffective on the field, was replaced after 27 minutes by Jared Jeffrey, moving DeLeon out to the wing.
In the 32nd minute, Saborio had the chance to send United ahead, but his shot from 8 yards out was over the goal. Luciano Acosta slipped a pass in behind the defense for Neagle, who made his way towards the end line. Space opened up for Saborio in the middle, but his shot with just Saunders to beat was well over.
At the other end, a minute later, Villa tested Worra with a quick shot from a sharp angle, but United's keeper was able to push the shot away, enabling United to clear before any more danger arose.
Saborio then had another opportunity to get D.C. on the board in the 38th minute, only to be stymied by Saunders. Neagle sent an early ball in for Saborio, who was able to make the run in behind to beat Jason Hernandez and Saunders to the ball. Saborio took a touch to get around Saunders, but the keeper was able to snag the ball away near the top of the box.
The second half started out alright for United, as Neagle had a cross early in the half just elude DeLeon at the far post. Jeffrey followed that up by firing harmlessly wide from range in the 48th minute.
But then most hope for United to pick up all three points at home against their Eastern Conference rivals was undone in a three minute spell, thanks to two quick goals from the Pigeons. The first came in the 50th minute, as Shelton was able to make a run towards the box with the ball, before crossing into McNamara. McNamara's touch back was perfectly placed for Villa, who had worked himself free, allowing the Spanish striker to fire home for his 7th goal of the season.
DeLeon fired wide from the top of the box a minute later, before Shelton padded the lead for NYC. McNamara's run to the end line was salvaged, as United struggled to escape the threat. Following a careless Bobby Boswell clearance, Matarrita was able to send a cross into the box, and Shelton - charging in without obstruction - rose up between two defenders, knocking the ball in with his shoulder in the 53rd minute.
Chances from there for United were few and far between, as the team struggled to get anything going with Espindola still out injured, and Rolfe suspended for his kick out in Chicago. Sarvas had a chance in the 61st minute to give United a lifeline, but the midfielder's free kick from the top of the box struck the woodwork, and Saborio was offside on the follow up.
Shelton mis-hit Villa's cross in the 64th minute, but a poor clearance allowed Andrea Pirlo a second opportunity, only for Steve Birnbaum to bail United out with a key block. That corner led to Villa testing Worra from a McNamara back heel, but Worra was able to push the shot wide.
Marcelo had another go from a very similar free kick, but this time the veteran's attempt to shoot underneath the wall's leap was blocked by a defender.
Birnbaum was able to win a header from substitute Julian Buescher's free kick in the 86th minute, but the header from the center back bounced wide of the goal, as no one in Black and Red was able to follow up to get a shot on goal.
Out of ideas, and without much hope, United couldn't manage a comeback from there, as New York City were able to see out their 2-0 victory. United return to action on Friday, hosting the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium.