Bill Hamid did all that he could on Friday night to help D.C. United earn a result on the road against Real Salt Lake. United's star attraction made save after save in the first half, but could do nothing about Juan Manuel Martinez's goal in the 57th minute. That was all the damage, though, and United managed to strike at the death via Jared Jeffrey to secure a 1-1 draw. On as a second half substitute, Jeffrey was unmarked on Fabian Espindola's corner in stoppage time, allowing the midfielder to power a header home for the valuable point on the road.
Hamid played lights out in the first half, making several tough saves to keep the game scoreless. Even after "Burrito" gave RSL the lead in the second half, Hamid continue to make crucial saves, setting the stage for Jeffrey to score his third career goal for the Black-and-Red.
Manager Ben Olsen made only one change to the side that beat the New England Revolution last weekend, with Bobby Boswell returning from suspension. Jalen Robinson returned to the bench, while Steve Birnbaum joined him after his return from international duty. Birnbaum had picked up a minor hip complaint during training this week.
Hamid was called into action early in the game, as a pass played over the top of United's back line found Yura Movsisyan breaking in towards goal. Getting around the last defender, Movsisyan seemed poised to get a shot away, but Hamid was off his line quickly enough to slide in and clear the ball away despite being well outside the box.
Former RSL man Alvaro Saborio had the first opportunity for United in the 10th minute, as a fortunate bouncing ball created an opening. There didn't appear to be much danger as the ball bounced to Saborio 30 yards from goal, but the Costa Rican striker took his chance, and forced Nick Rimando to sprawl to his left to push the ball wide of goal.
Movsisyan was bodied off the ball by Boswell in the 11th minute, just as the Armenian striker was looking to get in on goal. Movsisyan wanted a penalty kick call, but none was coming from referee Juan Guzman. Minutes later, Javier Morales tried to curl a shot in from a free kick on the side of the box, but his effort was always going wide.
Then came Hamid's masterpiece (in this game, at least), making a double save on Movsisyan in the 17th minute. A poor clearance from United allowed Martinez to break into the box, quickly centering the ball into the middle for Movsisyan. Hamid anticipated the first shot, parrying the ball, which fell right back to Movsisyan. Hamid was then able to get a hand to Movsisyan's second attempt, flipping over to his other side to make the save.
United had few forays forward after the opening portion of the game, but Espindola and Luciano Acosta connected on the left flank three minutes later for a rare shooting opportunity. Espindola eventually laid the ball off for Acosta, who shimmied around in the box before firing over the goal from a tight angle.
Movsisyan and Plata nearly connected on a long pass in the 29th minute, before the two combined to set up Morales in the 35th minute. Out wide, Movsisyan played the ball towards the middle, where Plata collected near the top of the box. His backheel found Morales, but the playmaker's shot was just over the bar.
Luke Mulholland then forced Hamid to push an one-timed shot just over the bar in the 39th minute. The pressure continued, with Plata nutmegging Boswell in the 41st minute to go into the box. Once again, Hamid scrambled off his line to collect the ball before Plata could take his shot.
The second half saw more of the same, as Movsisyan was played into the box in the opening minute of the second half. Bringing the ball down following a wonderful pass from Morales, Movsisyan turned towards the near post and shot, but Hamid made himself big to keep his goal undisturbed.
Movsisyan got to a Demar Phillips cross in the 53rd minute, aiming his header towards goal, with Boswell reacting in time to get a block on the effort. At the other end, a minute later, Lamar Neagle fed Saborio in the box, but the big striker pushed a powerful shot wide of the near post from a sharp angle.
But for all of Hamid's brilliance throughout the game, he was rendered helpless in the 57th minute, as Martinez opened the scoring for Real. Movsisyan was able to get down the left hand flank, with two options to aim for in the middle. Movsisyan picked out the Argentine veteran, who then cruelly faked his way past Boswell. Unlike Plata's earlier look, Martinez kept the ball close, allowing him to deftly chip over the onrushing Hamid to give the home side the lead.
Salt Lake continued to surge forward after the goal looking to put the game away, but Hamid raced off his line in the 61st minute to deny Plata, who was the recipient of a ball played over a stationary United back line.
From there, RSL seemed to tire, as they started a side similar to the one that played 120 minutes on Tuesday in the US Open Cup against the Seattle Sounders. Not getting forward with the same energy allowed United a few looks at goal as the game wore down, though none really looked capable of being the equalizer. In all honesty, both teams appeared too tired to do much in the late stages.
A surging run forward from left back Taylor Kemp in the 70th minute created a shooting lane for the defender, but his left footed effort from outside of the box crashed into the side netting. Bringing on Jeffrey, Julian Buescher, and Alhaji Kamara as the game wound down did a little to give United a boost. Kamara had a shot blocked in the box in the 88th minute after taking a pass from Neagle, who proceeded to head Buescher's cross well wide after DC kept the play alive.
Hamid had to make one final save just before stoppage time to give United a chance at a point. A header forward from Martinez allowed Olmes Garcia to flick the ball with his heel over the last defender, sending the young Colombian substitute in on goal. Hamid was United's last hope, and the keeper made himself big, keeping Garcia's shot out with his leg.
And that set the stage for Jeffrey's late equalize. Espindola whipped a cross in behind the retreating RSL defense, with Justen Glad blocking it behind for a corner. United had been disappointing all night on set pieces, but this time, Espindola's inswinging corner was driven and dangerous. Jeffrey charged in unmarked behind a crowd of players at the near post, thumping a header into the back of the net.
United return to action next Saturday, when they head to Chester, PA to take on the Philadelphia Union.