It took yet another own goal, but D.C. United won again on Wednesday night, taking down Atlanta United 1-0 at RFK Stadium. Michael Parkhurst, who scored an own goal for the Black-and-Red back in April, was once again the culprit for the Five Stripes, sending a header from Russell Canouse in the 46th minute into his own net.
The win for United was the third in three tries against the expansion club. It was also the second win a row for D.C., who had previously been on an eight-game winless run.
Head coach Ben Olsen made four changes from Saturday’s squad, who beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 in Commerce City. Steve Birnbaum was out with a concussion, and Sean Franklin, Marcelo Sarvas, and Patrick Mullins dropped to the bench. In came Jalen Robinson, Chris Korb, Jared Jeffrey, and Deshorn Brown to the starting line up.
On short rest, United came out of the blocks slowly against Atlanta, who had last played on August 6th due to a shift in schedules because of stadium delays for their new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Five Stripes were inches from an opener in the 4th minute, as Yamil Asad teed up Miguel Almiron at the top of the box, but the low effort skipped just wide of the near post.
In the 11th minute, a broken play led to a good save from Bill Hamid, who denied Hector Villalba’s deflected shot. Villalba’s entry pass into the box was knocked back to him, allowing him to shoot from just outside the box. His shot changed direction on the deflection, but Hamid got down quickly to save, with Kofi Opare shielding Hamid as he gathered up the rebound.
United’s first chance came in the 15th minute, as Lloyd Sam helped set up Luciano Acosta. As Atlanta successfully defended D.C.’s first attempt to get into the box, United were able to keep possession in the attacking third. From the left, Sam lifted a cross into the box for Acosta, who brought the ball down but had a left-footed shot saved by Brad Guzan.
In the 29th minute, a turnover from United - who were mostly struggling offensively up to this point - created a chance for Atlanta. Asad tried to chip Hamid from near the top of the box, and though Hamid was off his line, the deadlock remained as Asad’s effort floated over the goal.
By about the 30th minute, the tide of the game seemed to change, in favor for the Black-and-Red. Atlanta began to look like a team that hadn’t played in 17 days, though possession still favored them. On the overlap in the 33rd minute, Nick DeLeon sent a ball into the box, and regardless of whether it was a shot or cross it caused a moment of bother for Guzan, who bobbled the ball before safely collecting.
Two minutes later, Acosta once again had a chance to open in the scoring. Russell Canouse, in his second game with the club, caused a turnover near the midfield stripe, and with the outside of his right foot, quickly played a superb ball over the defense for Acosta. Acosta tried to beat Guzan to the far post, but his effort skipped just wide.
Guzan made the save of the game to keep the game scoreless just minutes before the end of the half. From a throw-in, Brown flicked a pass towards the Atlanta goal for Arriola, who was in full sprint. Arriola played the ball into the middle of the box for Sam, who was in front of his defender. Sam’s first touch set him up to shoot on the second, but Guzan made a save on the doorstep with his left foot.
A minute into the second half, despite Guzan’s best efforts, United had a lead. An initial rocket of a shot from Canouse forced Guzan in a full stretch save. He pushed the shot wide, but the ball stayed just barely in, and Sam quickly regained possession. Sam then crossed to the back post for Canouse, who headed the ball back into the middle of the box towards the runs of Arriola and Brown. Parkhurst was among those in place defend the header, but he could only manage to accidentally knocked the ball past Guzan for his second own goal against United this year.
The momentum had clearly swung in favor of United, who despite being in last place in MLS just seem to have the impressive expansion side’s number. In the 60th minute, a free kick from Sam found Robinson, but the center back’s header was wide of the mark.
Marcelo, who came in at halftime for Jeffrey, had a long range blast saved by Guzan in the 61st minute. Two minutes later, Brown toed the offside line before running onto Acosta’s pass into the box only to be denied at the near post by Guzan.
Atlanta head coach Gerardo Martino made three changes after that, looking to get something out of the game. But the introductions of Julian Gressel, Brandon Vazquez, and Chris McCann did little to help Atlanta offensively. Their next best effort on goal came in the 85th minute, when Jeff Larentowicz’s laser from 30 yards was coolly collected by Hamid, who was well-placed to make the stop.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Atlanta finally looked to have Hamid beat, but Josef Martinez’s effort skipped wide of the far post. Getting just in front of a defender on a cross from Vazquez, Martinez tried to direct a shot towards the far post, but it was not to be for the Venezuelan.
Now with 25 points from 26 games, United are right back at it Saturday, hosting the New England Revolution.