D.C. United didn’t exactly get a full measure of revenge on New York City FC on Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium, but the Black-and-Red did enough to get all three points, taking down NYCFC 2-1 before 18,855. Lloyd Sam and Luciano Acosta tallied the goals for United in the second half, with David Villa scoring a late goal to give the Pigeons a hope for a point. But United once again did enough to see out the win, taking three points for the second straight week.
Just over a month ago, United went to Yankee Stadium and were embarrassed in a 4-0 defeat. In the final regular season game between the two clubs this season, United were hoping to finish out their home stretch (four of their first five games were at RFK) strong, and picked up their second win on the season with the victory.
Head Coach Ben Olsen was forced into one change from the team that beat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 last week. With Marcelo Sarvas out for a suspension, Jared Jeffrey, took over as defensive midfielder, in a midfield trio with Ian Harkes and Acosta.
The first half went by with few chances either way. Jeffrey had the first shot of the game in the 8th minute, but his left footed half volley was pushed wide by City keeper Sean Johnson. Bobby Boswell, in the starting lineup once again, won a header on a 10th minute corner, but directed his effort straight at Johnson.
NYCFC’s first chance came in the 15th minute, off a nifty play from Villa and Maxi Moralez. A turnover from United was picked up by Moralez, and he quickly fed the ball up to Villa, who used a back heel to get the ball to Rodney Wallace. Wallace, the former United draft pick, had some space to shoot, but his shot was blocked by Nick DeLeon.
Jack Harrison had a dangerous cross into the box in the 30th minute, but keeper Bill Hamid did just enough to grab the ball in a crowded box. NYCFC then finally got a shot on target in the 44th minute, as Villa lifted a cross to the back post for the diminutive Moralez. The midfielder snapped a header down, but Hamid was able to grab the shot with ease.
The second half hardly mirrored the first, as the game opened up for both teams. Acosta’s shot from a cleared corner was deflected, and Johnson, thrown off by the deflection, did just enough to push the ball away from danger.
But just 57 seconds later, United had their lead. A pass meant for Frederic Brillant took a bobble on United’s divot-filled field. That bounce favored Sam, who was pressuring Brillant just outside the box. One touch set Sam up, and his second was a left-footed shot that slotted under Johnson for the 1-0 advantage.
Villa and Acosta then exchanged missed opportunities at either end in the 56th and 60th minutes. Then in the 64th minute, a chance popped up for substitute Tommy McNamara, but the City midfielder’s low shot was well held by Hamid.
In the 73rd minute, United doubled their advantage, as Acosta scored his second of the season (both in the past two games). Picking up the ball in his own half, Acosta made his way past several challenges from McNamara and Andrea Pirlo in midfield. That freed United’s maestro to find Sam on the right in the box, but Johnson made the save on Sam’s attempt. The rebound popped up in front of goal though, and Acosta - who was not picked up after his pass - was quickest to react, and did just enough to get a left-footed shot past Johnson.
The Pigeons didn’t go down without a fight though, and in the 82nd minute, they came close to getting a goal back. Villa, with the ball at the top of the box, curled a shot that Hamid did enough to push away. But similar to the goal he conceded last week to CJ Sapong, the rebound fell to Jack Harrison in the box. Harrison fired a shot on target, but Hamid somehow did enough to gobble up the ball, preventing NYCFC from getting their lifeline.
Their lifeline did come though two minutes later, as David Villa scored his third goal of the season, all of which have come against United. A cross from the left made it’s way through United’s box, with McNamara picking up the ball at the other end. McNamara slid a cross back towards the penalty spot, where Villa was all alone to sweep home, despite Hamid getting a hand to the shot.
McNamara had an opportunity on a counter in the 87th minute, with Hamid bobbling a shot in traffic, but United did enough to clear away. And Harkes could have sealed the points in the 90th minute, but his effort after Acosta created the opportunity was parried away by Johnson.
That miss didn’t haunt United though, as they expertly saw out the three minutes of stoppage time for their second win on the season. With seven points from five games, United now begin a stretch of three games in a row on the road, with a trip to play the New York Red Bulls next week up first.