D.C. United defeats Chivas USA to end losing streak
Through 90 minutes of Saturday's match with Chivas USA, D.C. United dominated possession and created chance after chance in front of the goal only to watch Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton fend off shot after shot to keep his team in a thoroughly one-sided contest.
But after watching a lead evaporate in the 80th minute and staring at the prospect of a frustrating draw, United eventually found a way around the Chivas keeper.
Santino Quaranta chased a loose ball in the box in the 92nd minute, forcing Thornton to charge. The keeper's hands-first slide tripped Quaranta, drawing a red card and leaving defender Dario Delgado in goal for the ensuing penalty shot. Defender Carey Talley's shot found the open left side of the net to snap a three-game losing streak and give United three points with a 3-2 victory before a crowd of 13,043 at RFK Stadium.
"At halftime I told the guys that if it takes us to the 90th minute to win this game tonight, then that's what it does, but we have to stay patient," Quaranta said. "In the past we'd put our heads down when that 78th-, 79th-minute goal would go in. Tonight, we lifted the guys, we kept pushing forward and it was the type of performance that we expect."
Fresh off a surprising 3-2 victory over AC Milan in an exhibition Wednesday night, United returned to MLS play looking to carry the offensive spark that has been lacking all season. Despite United's possession dominance, which included a flurry of early scoring chances, Chivas capitalized on a pair of opportunities against the flow of play, opening the scoring in the 16th minute and later knotting the score at 2 in the 80th.
After Thornton stopped a pair of close-in shots in the second minute, Chivas's Justin Braun chased a long ball over the top, fended off Talley and slotted a right-footed shot underneath a charging Bill Hamid to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
But United continued to press forward and 10 minutes later, 17-year-old midfielder Andy Najar -- whose pace and creativity on the right side nearly gave United a goal in the second minute -- found himself unmarked at the back of the box and headed home Rodney Wallace's cross for his first career goal to snap the team's scoreless drought in MLS play at 351 minutes.
Midway through the second half, United caught its first break of the night when Delgado slid in front of Thornton front to intercept a Clyde Simms cross, but deflected the ball off the left post and onto the foot of United substitute Adam Cristman, who tapped the ball into the open net to give United a 2-1 lead. Chivas (3-7-1) responded when Maykel Galindo beat a pair of United defenders and slid a shot through Hamid's legs to tie the score again at 2.
"To concede that [second] goal was hard, but I like the response," United Coach Curt Onalfo said. "We found a way."
Unwilling to settle for a draw, United charged back once more, giving Talley an opportunity to atone for admittedly taking a poor angle on Braun's goal with the game-winner. "Once they tied it up, we still felt like we're going to get something out of this game rather than one point," Talley said. "We walk out of here with three points and I think our heads are going to be held high because of this win. We showed that we can persevere and continue to work hard when things aren't going right."
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