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D.C. United score first, but fall 4-2 to FC Dallas

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Ian Harkes opened his MLS account, but a horrid 15 minutes from United cost them four goals in 3rd consecutive loss

Ian Harkes gave D.C. United a hope in the first half, but the Black-and-Red conceded four goals in a 15 minute stretch spanning halftime, in an eventual 4-2 loss to FC Dallas. Deshorn Brown scored his first goal for the club in the second half, but too many mistakes cost United any chance at a point to end a busy stretch of games.

Atiba Harris beat Steve Birnbaum in the air to level the scores after 41 minutes, after Harkes scored a wonderfully taken goal to give United a surprise lead. But Roland Lamah scored in the third minute of first half stoppage time, and Maximiliano Urruti made it three just two minutes into the second half. Lamah scored his second of the game in the 55th minute, though Brown then responded with his tally just two minutes later.

The loss was United’s third in a row in MLS play, fourth in all competitions, after defeating Atlanta United 2-1 on June 21.

Just three days after their 2-0 loss to the Montreal Impact, head coach Ben Olsen kept most of his starting lineup intact, with United about to go on a break for the next two weeks. Chris Korb and the Marcelo Sarvas dropped to the bench, with Chris Odoi-Atsem and Jared Jeffrey replacing them. Sebastien Le Toux was not part of the match day squad for the second consecutive game, with Deshorn Brown handed a second start for the Black-and-Red.

Dallas started off the game dominating possession, just about how the script was suppose to go. But United were compact early on, holding their line well, and doing enough to deny chances for the Hoops early on in the game. The first real scoring opportunity came in the 23rd minute, with Hernan Grana whipping a cross into the middle of the box. Urruti fired a shot on target, but keeper Travis Worra was able push the effort away.

Instead, it was United who scored with their first opportunity of the game, as Harkes scored his first league goal of his young career. Luciano Acosta had the ball working towards goal, and slide a pass out wide to Patrick Nyarko. Nyarko found Harkes alone just outside the top of the goal, allowing the midfielder to strike first time. Harkes’ effort beat Jesse Gonzalez, but slammed off the woodwork, going all the way back across the goal before settling into the side netting.

That lead though was a surprise, given Dallas’ play being amongst the best in the league this year. And it didn’t take them long to start flexing, as the goal seemed to push them into action. Mauro Diaz beat Worra from range in the 36th minute, but his shot skipped past the far post. Lamah was then running at goal with the ball three minutes later, forcing Worra into a kick save.

So it was of little surprise then when Dallas equalized in the 41st minute. Odoi-Atsem had just done enough to cut out a cross in the box, but he sliced the clearance out for a corner. Victor Ulloa curled in the corner kick, and Harris out-jumped Steve Birnbaum to level the scores before the halftime break.

Urruti tested Worra in the first minute of stoppage time, but United couldn’t get to the halftime break with the score at 1-1. In third minute of stoppage time, right back Ryan Hollingshead slipped a pass to Urruti in the box. Urruti got a shot past Worra, one that slowly rolled towards goal. Hollingshead had a secondary attempt blocked, but Taylor Kemp tried to get the ball out of the area while rushing towards goal. But Kemp couldn’t properly clear the ball away, and Lamah was right there to smash a shot home for the halftime lead.

For as bad as United ended the first half, their response in the opening stanza of the second half was no better. Before 15 minutes had ticked off, Dallas doubled their goal tally, giving themselves a three goal advantage against United.

The first of the goals came in the 47th minute, as Urruti notched his team leading 11th goal of the season on a moment that Worra will want to forget. Michael Barrios played a pass into the box behind United’s back line, which allowed Urruti to gather. Urruti then either shot or crossed towards the middle, but right at Worra from an extremely tight angle. Worra should have been able to make a play, but instead the ball got through his legs, and deflected into the goal for the 3-1 deficit.

Yet, United still weren’t able to regroup before Lamah’s second goal, the one that likely killed off the game, in the 55th minute. Dallas quickly broke forward from a turnover in midfield, with Diaz playing the ball down the line for the speedy Barrios. Barrios had no one in front of him, and put the ball into the middle of the box, where Lamah was making a run, slotting home underneath Worra for the three goal advantage.

Despite all of that though, United scored with their next attack, as Brown opened up his Black-and-Red account two minutes after Lamah’s goal. Acosta was given too much space to move through midfield, and Brown attempted a run between two defenders. Acosta’s pass wasn’t exactly right for Brown, but the striker’s touch still took him into space, and from there, he fired home between Gonzalez’s legs to get the United back within two at 4-2.

And United’s were nearly back within one goal in the 72nd minute, when substitute Lamar Neagle had a free header on a corner kick. Acosta’s effort found Neagle near the back post unmarked. But Neagle, who hasn’t scored from open play in 2017 after leading United in goals last year, got the header wrong, bouncing his effort wide of the post from within the six yard box.

FC Dallas had a couple of opportunities to add to their lead late, and put away any doubt of a comeback from United. But those chances were for naught, and instead, it was Gonzalez who kept United from scoring late on. In the final minute of normal time, Acosta collected a pass from substitute Julian Buescher, and turned to shoot. His shot put Gonzalez to the test, but the young keeper did enough to tip the shot over the bar.

Buescher took the resulting corner, and his out-swinger bounced dangerously in front of goal. Acosta was right there to shoot on the half-volley, but his well struck effort was parried away by Gonzalez, ending any hope of a stoppage time miracle.

United, with 18 points from 19 games, has the next two weeks off, as MLS takes a break for the group stages of the Gold Cup. They return to action on July 19th, when they head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Sounders.