Things appeared to be going in D.C. United’s favor during the first part of Saturday’s home game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Scoring opportunities were plentiful, via corner kicks and through balls. Each chance seemed to put United on the verge of something it hadn’t done in nearly a year — win consecutive games.
Then came a whistle in the 48th minute, bringing it all to a screeching halt.
A collision in the box involving United goalkeeper Bill Hamid led to a controversial foul call and, ultimately, the decisive goal on a Camilo Sanvezzo penalty kick in United’s 1-0 loss before 13,122 at RFK Stadium.
The sudden momentum shift and defeat continued a season of struggle for United, which hasn’t won consecutive games in league play since October of last season. Prior to Saturday’s loss, United had gone 3-1-1 in all competitions over its past five games, showcasing inspired play that had been mostly absent during a club-record 13-game winless streak.
“We get the same clown show every weekend,” United Coach Ben Olsen said during an animated press conference. “They gave me everything they had. And the joker in the middle did not do a good job. He failed those guys. He failed the guys in the locker room. [The referees] don’t have to explain; I do, to my owners, why I lost another game.”
“It’s frustrating coming in here 0-0 and you push for a goal like that and just our final ball was off the net,” United forward Chris Pontius said. “[Some] Nights it just seems like nothing is falling or bouncing your way and definitely tonight was one of those nights.”
The near-misses began in the second minute, when a volley off a corner kick sailed wide right, and continued throughout a first half that saw United outshoot Vancouver, 12-7. United (2-12-3) may have had its best opportunity when Sainey Nyassi weaved through traffic and found an opening down the right side of the field in the 37th minute. But the midfielder’s sliding shot lacked the power and precision necessary, instead finding only the side netting.
Playing for the first time in more than a week, Vancouver (7-5-4) had shaken off any rust by the second half. Less than three minutes after intermission, the ball rolled into the box, pitting a race between Hamid and Vancouver forward Matt Watson for possession.
As Hamid dove, he tipped the ball before his momentum sent him into Watson, who fell hard to the ground just inside the box. The ensuing whistle caused an uproar among the crowd and United players, who pleaded with referee Matthew Foerster to change his mind.
“He made full contact with the ball and I feel like I actually beat the guy there to the ball,” Hamid said. “Honestly, I didn’t know he fell. I’ll leave that to the replays and leave that to the critics.”
“He definitely got a piece of the ball, but he definitely went through me, too,” Watson said.
United responded with more offensive aggression, sending 16 second-half shots to the goal, all to no avail.
●FC DALLAS 2, UNION 2: In Chester, Pa., Blas Perez scored late in stoppage time to lift FC Dallas to a draw with Philadelphia.
Walker Zimmerman also scored as FC Dallas (8-3-6) picked up its second consecutive draw and pulled into a first-place tie with Real Salt Lake and Portland atop the Western Conference.
Aaron Wheeler had put the Union ahead with his first career goal in the 87th minute. Amobi Okugo also scored for Philadelphia (7-5-5).●REAL SALT LAKE 1, TORONTO FC 0: Yordany Alvarez scored just before halftime to lead visiting Real Salt Lake.
Javier Morales knocked the ball back out of the area to Alvarez on the right side, and he unleashed a right-footed shot that beat goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Toronto (2-8-6) snapped a three-game unbeaten streak.
●RAPIDS 4, IMPACT 3: In Montreal, Tony Cascio scored in stoppage time as Colorado handed the Rapids their first home loss of the season. Deshorn Brown had tied it in the 77th minute, and Atiba Harris and Dillon Powers also scored for the Rapids (6-7-5), who ended a three-game losing streak.
News services contributed to this report.