Bill Hamid was once again the difference for D.C. United, as the Black-and-Red held out for a point in a 0-0 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening. An uneventful 90 minutes came alive in stoppage time, as Hamid was forced into point-saving blocks on efforts from Mauro Manotas and Raul Rodriguez.
United didn't have many chances of their own to win the game, as they were forced to play a starting eleven similar to the one that earned a draw on the road against New England Revolution earlier in the year. Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio, and Miguel Aguilar all missed the trip to Texas due to various injuries, in addition to Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko, who are both still out with concussions. Steve Birnbaum was in town, but he remains with the USA team competing in Copa America.
To fill out an entire matchday 18, both Travis Worra and Tally Hall made the bench for United. On top of that, the game was delayed for 36 minutes before kicking off, as inclement weather threw a wrench into plans. Once the game finally started, it made for some difficult viewing.
The first half faintly resembled a professional soccer game, as neither team looked capable of much in the final third. In fact, the first shot of the game came in the 19th minute, when Boniek Garcia crossed in from the left, with Will Bruin winning the header. But the header was so weak that Marcelo Sarvas was able to chest the ball back to Hamid.
Garcia got another cross in from the left in the 22nd minute, but this time, center back Raul Rodriguez couldn't quite guide the ball on goal, with United covering the defender closely. On the opposite flank, Andrew Wenger found himself in prime real estate to cross in the 30th minute, but Hamid gobbled up the centering pass.
Rob Vincent, getting the start after playing 120 minutes in the Open Cup on Wednesday, wasn't able to do much with a half chance from the top of the goal, screwing a shot well wide. But Vincent's long ball from midfield provided a momentary beam of hope, as Luciano Acosta was able to bring the ball down in stride. Acosta quickly took aim from the top of the box, but a sliding Jalil Anibaba blocked the shot, allowing Tyler Deric to easily collect.
Cristian Maidana found Rodriguez from a corner in the 38th minute, but the Spanish defender guided his header just over the woodwork of Hamid's goal. Taylor Kemp then had the final chance of the half in the 43rd minute, as United kept a free kick alive, but the powerful shot from the left back was always off target.
After the dire first half, the second half saw an uptick in terms of the quality of play. The action started early in the 48th minute, as former US international Ricardo Clark took aim from the top of the box, only for Bobby Boswell to block the shot. The Dynamo kept the ball alive though, allowing Wenger a second opportunity, one in which his shot dribbled wide of goal.
Bruin, United's mortal enemy with 9 career goals against the Black-and-Red, was denied a goal in the 50th minute thanks to some heroics from Hamid. A spell of possession from Houston ended with a shooting opportunity from Bruin, whose powerful strike from just outside the box was tipped off the post for a corner by Hamid.
Boswell, playing for one former club against the other, won a diving header from a free kick by Acosta in the 52nd minute. Following some stalling over the set piece from United that appeared to be part of a plan to lull the Dynamo to sleep, a perfectly timed run from Boswell on the free kick found him in space in front of goal. At full stretch, Boswell had to stoop low and could only send the header straight at Deric.
Garcia fired over in the 54th minute after Bruin was able to hold up a free kick in the box, before Wenger shot wide two minutes later. Maidana was able to slip DaMarcus Beasley into the box on the left. Beasley's cross was knocked around in the box before Wenger tried to find the opener, but the shot was well wide.
Lamar Neagle had two looks at goal in the 65th and 67th minute, but both were saved by Deric. On the first, a ball from Marcelo to Neagle in the middle of the field allowed the forward to play back to Acosta. Acosta quickly returned the favor, but Neagle's shot was saved as Deric got down quickly.
Collecting a pass from Jared Jeffrey on the second opportunity, Neagle turned away from two defenders and quickly took sight at goal, firing into Deric's arms from 25 yards out as the defense collapsed in around him.
Jeffrey's corner in the 72nd minute was kept alive by Kemp, who flicked the ball back into the box for Alhaji Kamara, who had entered as a substitute four minutes earlier. Kamara was able to control, and lay the ball back for Acosta, but the pass found his left foot. Acosta hit his shot with plenty of power, but it flew straight into the stands of BBVA Compass Stadium.
In the 82nd minute, Mauro Manotas - who entered the game for Bruin in the 78th minute - was the beneficiary of an exchange between Garcia and Beasley. Collecting from Beasley, Garcia slipped the ball into the box for Manotas, who found an inch of space to shoot. The shot was just wide though, grazing the outside netting from a tight angle.
Acosta fired over from a tight angle in the 84th minute, setting the stage for Hamid's heroics in stoppage time. The first shot came from Manotas, as Leonel Miranda caught a tired United team in transition with a ball over the top. Garcia put the ball into the box, forcing a sliced clearance from Boswell. The ball fell back into the box, with Kemp and Clark both getting a touch before the ball fell to Manotas. The young Colombian tagged a shot that looked sure to nestle into the lower corner, only for Hamid to fly to his right to make a miraculous save.
The resulting corner was whipped into a dangerous spot, finding Rodriguez on the doorstep. The Spaniard headed the ball down, where Hamid managed to shuffle his feet to again save the day with a kick save. The follow up shot was still a huge threat, but it was mercifully blazed over the goal by David Horst with the final kick of the ball.
United return to action next Saturday, when they host the New England Revolution at home at RFK Stadium.