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D.C. United survive second half onslaught in 1-1 draw with Montreal Impact

Lamar Neagle gave United the lead with a first half penalty, but the Black-and-Red had to hang on after Hassoun Camara’s second half equalizer

There was moments of hope for D.C. United to pick up their second road win of the season on Wednesday night, but a Hassoun Camara equalizer in the second half dashed them, as United held on for a 1-1 draw against the Montreal Impact. After Lamar Neagle had put United ahead from the penalty spot in the first half, Bill Hamid did his best to keep United ahead with several spectacular saves, but he was helpless on Camara’s bouncing header in the 77th minute.

Patrick Nyarko earned the penalty as he got goal side of Donny Toia, who tripped up United’s midfielder in the box. Neagle, who converted a penalty earlier in the year, made no mistake with his second spot kick of the season.

Hamid made saves on Ignacio Piatti, Johan Venegas, and Didier Drogba, but Neagle’s turnover in the 77th minute led directly to Camara’s header. Later, Kofi Opare then saw red in the 89th minute on for a studs-up tackle on Marco Donadel.

In the midst of a stretch of three games in six days, manager Ben Olsen made seven changes to the side that drew 2-2 with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. Bill Hamid, Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, and Nyarko were the only holdovers, with Luke Mishu, Kofi Opare, Julian Buescher, Rob Vincent, Nick DeLeon, Kennedy Igboananike, and Neagle handed starting duties.

Hamid was called into action early on in the game, as Piatti was through on goal in the 11th minute. Connecting several passes in the middle of the field, Drogba was able to pick out Piatti on the run, but the Argentine was denied by Hamid, who somehow got down to his left to keep Piatti's shot out.

United’s free kick on the side of the box in the 18th minute ended in a shot from the top of the box from Vincent, which was blocked out for a corner. The corner didn’t come to much, but Birnbaum kept the ball alive on the wing, and swung in a cross that Neagle, from a promising position, headed over from six yards out.

Piatti was then through on goal in the 22nd minute, collecting a long ball following a cleared corner kick for United, with Buescher desperately trying to keep up. In the box, Piatti looked destined to get a shot off, but a last ditch tackle from Buescher saved the day for the Black-and-Red.

Toia had a header blocked in the 34th minute, but was culpable for the opening goal moments later as he conceded the penalty. A quick counter from United led to Neagle making his way down the right, before sending an early cross into the box. Nyarko got onto the ball in front of Toia, but was then brought down as he tried to round his man and go to goal. Neagle - after a roughly three minute wait due to Drogba requiring attention from the trainer and protests from the Impact - sent Bush the wrong way, giving the Black-and-Red the 1-0 advantage in the 39th minute.

A first half that lacked much action aside from the goal gave way to a hectic final 45 minutes, as Montreal pushed and pushed for the equalizer. That said, it was Buescher who had the first genuine look at goal in the 52nd minute, but the German’s shot was blocked out for a corner.

Neagle and DeLeon hustled to create an opening a minute later, with Neagle winning a tackle near Montreal’s box after initially being unable to dribble past Ambroise Oyongo. DeLeon was quickest to react, and slid a ball from the endline towards Igboananike. The DCU newcomer dove onto the ball, but his glancing shot - while beating Bush - skipped wide of the frame as well.

On a broken play in the 55th minute, Michael Salazar was fortunate to receive the ball at the top of the box. Whether his effort was looking for Venegas or was itself a shot, the ball looped over United’s back line, allowing Venegas a free header just yards out. Hamid somehow parried the shot around the post, with the ball possibly even on the line.

Drogba had a free kick from a dangerous position in the 57th minute blocked and cleared out, before he was denied on the counter attack by Hamid. Drogba was essential in starting the counter attack, and then collected a cross from Oyongo at the back post. But Hamid was quick to get into position, and pushed the near-post shot from Drogba away.

Opare nearly put substitute Dominic Oduro’s cross into his own net in the 71st minute. Oduro characteristically raced onto the ball along the right, getting in behind the defense, and crossed low as both Impact and United players crashed the box. Opare arrived to prevent a finish, but his hurry left him little option but to smash the ball backward. The ball cracked off the post, with Hamid having no chance to get there, before going out for a corner kick.

DeLeon did well to hold the ball up at the top of the box in the 73rd minute, with several Impact defenders closely marking. DeLeon’s cut back allowed him to find Vincent, who had a first timed rocket pushed away superbly by Bush.

That was the extent of United’s attacking involvement for the rest of the game, as it was all Montreal in the final 15 minutes. Camara ended up supplying the equalizing goal, but it came from United’s inability to clear their lines following a corner kick. Neagle tried to get around Donadel, but when he failed to do so, Donadel quickly sent a cross into the box, where Camara bounced a header back across goal to level the score at 1-1.

Drogba and Piatti then combined in the 80th minute at the top of the box. Collecting a pass from Drogba, Piatti swept into the box, but then pushed his effort just wide of the far post, with Hamid unable to get to the shot. Soon thereafter, substitute Matteo Mancosu went close on the volley late on after Vincent's interception of a loose ball went straight to the Italian Moments later,. Piatti tried his luck from outside of the box, only for his effort to sail wide of the mark.

Opare then saw red as he went studs -up into the leg of Donadel in the final minute of the game. Initially, Opare did well to stand Drogba up and win the ball from him, but his next touch was too far ahead of him. Opare tried to get there first, but referee Robert Sibiga had no choice due to the dangerous nature of Opare's tackle. That let Montreal push forward for the winner, with United dropping into a zero forward formation, but the couldn’t find the breakthrough in the four minutes of stoppage time.

United, with 29 points from 25 games, return to action on Saturday, hosting the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium.