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D.C. United drop more points at home in 1-0 loss to Montreal Impact

Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla’s first half goal was the difference

D.C. United couldn’t build upon recent successes on the road, losing 1-0 to the Montreal Impact in their first home game in over a month. Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla scored the game’s only goal in the 13th minute, after United had opened up the game looking the more dangerous of the two teams. And then, much like last year’s playoff game at RFK, the Impact succeeded at frustrating the Black-and-Red for the rest of the game, limiting United to just two shots on goal over the course of 90 minutes.

For the third consecutive game, United gave up a goal within 15 minutes, the fourth time this season they had managed to do so. But unlike the last two weeks, in which United earned a point against the New England Revolution and beat Atlanta United, United couldn’t find a way back against the Impact, losing for the second time in five home games in 2017.

United were all set to start the game with the same 11 that beat Atlanta last weekend, but Bill Hamid was a late scratch. Ben Olsen decided to play it safe with Hamid’s groin injury, and instead gave Travis Worra his first minutes of the season, with Hamid moving to the bench. Sebastien Le Toux retained his place at the top of United’s formation, with Patrick Mullins on the bench once again.

The past two weeks had seen United start poorly from the opening whistle, but they had more purpose to their play in the first 10 minutes. And they might have taken the lead in the 5th minute, after a wonderful bit of footwork from Luciano Acosta. But after making his way past several defenders and passing wide to Lloyd Sam in the box, Sam’s cross just eluded Le Toux and Lamar Neagle, as the ball ended up harmlessly out of bounds.

But that opening 10 minutes marked the end of United’s good spell for the rest of the first half, and in the 13th minute, Tabla struck for his second goal of the season. Collecting a pass from Adrian Arregui, Tabla beat a challenge from Jared Jeffrey in midfield, and made his way towards goal. With no one closing him down, Tabla took aim from the top of the box, and skipped a shot past Worra for the early 1-0 lead.

Ian Harkes had two opportunities to open his MLS account in the 19th and 21st minutes, but just couldn’t find the luck required for his first professional goal. A shot from range in the 19th minute was saved by Evan Bush, and then from a feed by Sam two minutes later, Harkes saw his goal-bound effort blocked before it could test Bush.

Dominic Oduro, starting up top in place of the injured Matteo Mancosu, saw his left-footed effort from inside the box parried away by Worra in the 29th minute. Two minutes later, Daniel Lovitz, playing out of position as a midfielder, put his effort just wide of the goal, after Oduro and Ignacio Piatti combined to create an opportunity.

Worra was called into action once again in the 38th minute, as left back Ambroise Oyongo sent a cross all the way through the box. Right back Chris Duvall collected the ball on the right side, and fired a shot on goal, but Worra was able to block his powerfully struck shot away from danger.

After being held to just three shots in the first half, United enjoyed the majority of the chances in the second half, but still only managed the one shot on target. Still, Acosta nearly had United level on the scoreboard in the 58th minute, after he collected a pass from Taylor Kemp. Beating one challenge, Acosta tried his luck from long range, beating Bush only for his shot to smack against the crossbar.

Oduro had a shot saved by Worra at the near post in the 60th minute, before Mullins, who came on for Le Toux at the interval, had a header blocked out for a corner in the 62nd minute.

Despite dominating possession for most of the second half, United still had trouble breaking down Montreal, but almost found an equalizer in the 77th minute, A hopeful shot on the turn from Harkes was knocked down by Mullins. Finding himself in space, Mullins was quick to pull the trigger as he was turning towards goal, but his shot was right at Bush, who got down quickly to save.

Kofi Opare did find the back of the net at one point for United, corralling a long ball in the box and slotting home beyond Bush. However, he was flagged for offside, and replays showed that Opare was just a step or two off when the ball was played into the box.

Olsen introduced Marcelo Sarvas and Jose Ortiz late on hoping to spark the attack, but Montreal’s stinginess in front of goal persisted. Marcelo tried to beat Bush from a speculative shot at the top of the box in the 90th minute, but his left footed effort sailed wide of the mark.

Mullins might have earned a point for in the third minute of stoppage time, but he just couldn’t find the target from six yards out. Opare won a header at the top of the box, directing the ball towards goal. Mullins had space for his header, but just couldn’t guide the ball towards goal, with the shot sailing past the post.

With the loss, United have 11 points from nine games. They return to action next Saturday, when they host the Philadelphia Union at RFK Stadium.