Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By MITCHELL NORTHAM
LANDOVER, Md. – Preceded by a Spain-El Salvador friendly on Saturday night, D.C. United (6-4-4) faced off against the Columbus Crew (4-5-6) at a site that was home away from home. Sure, United fans were in the building, but this wasn’t RFK; it was Fed-Ex Field, home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
“It was slow and thick,” United head coach Ben Olsen said of the field. “It wasn’t built for soccer, but both teams had to play on it.”
The game was slow too; both sides were tied up 0-0 heading into stoppage time and in the 94th minute, Columbus defender Bernardo Anor was called for a handball in the box.
D.C. United forward Fabian Espindola stepped up to close the deal with a penalty kick. But Espindola chipped the ball right down the middle into goal keeper Steve Clark’s hands; moments later the whistle sounded and both teams walked away with a point each in a 0-0 tie.
“It wasn’t the greatest night for us as a whole,” Olsen said. “It’s a little disappointing to not get the PK there.”
The missed opportunity on the penalty kick was just one of many for D.C. United against the Crew, and it was also was a missed opportunity to move up in the eastern conference standings.
Another disappointing note was watching forward Eddie Johnson hobble off of the field in the 57th minute. Johnson had his ankle wrapped after the game and Coach Olsen confirmed that he rolled it.
“I just know my body,” Johnson said of the injury. “You don’t want to be selfishly out there and hurt your team.”
Conor Doyle subbed on for Johnson in that moment and later Jared Jeffery and Lewis Neal subbed on as well. Still, neither was able to get D.C.’s offense moving and neither was able to get a strike past Crew’s keeper.
“He’s been great all year for us,” Crew captain Michael Parkhurst said of his teammate, Clark. “Steve comes up with some big saves for us time and time again.”
On the other side, D.C. United’s goalkeeper Bill Hamid came up with a pair of saves as well in the shutout, but credits the defense for helping him secure the shutout.
“These guys know their positions well and they get the job done,” Hamid said of the back line. “From a goalkeeper’s stand point you encourage them and communicate with them and that’s all you can do; if it’s 0-0 then we’ll take it.”
D.C. United have a quick turn around this week and depart soon for a game against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday.
“Montreal is a definite tough place to play,” Hamid said. “They got some mean fans that are on us and Montreal is strong; very strong at home.”
Here are the game highlights: