Johnson: D.C. United Impresses But Settles for Draw

Johnson: D.C. United Impresses But Settles for Draw
June 6, 2010, 2:21 am
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Saturday, June 5, 2010, 10:20pm By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comWashington----DC United was able to earn its first shutout of the season and stop Real Salt Lakes five- game winning streak, but failed to earn the full three points in a 0-0 draw before 15,328 fans on a steamy night at RFK Stadium.I am guy who looks at the glass half full, said United head coach Curt Onalfo I am disappointed in not getting the three points. We played well enough and I think everyone in the stadium saw that including their coaching staff who said we should have had three-points.
United had the commitment to match the heat and dictated play from the opening kickoff. Just a little over two minutes in to the match 17-year old midfielder Andy Najar was able to draw three defenders into the middle and play the ball to an open Jordan Graye on the right flank.Graye, who had pushed forward from his right back position, delivered a perfect cross that skimmed across the six-yard boss and was deflected out of play by Real defender Nat Borchers. Grayes cross just needed a United forward to make a run and poke it home. It was a sign of things to come for United. The home team enjoyed the better of the chances and finished with a 5-1 advantage in shots on goal. Midfielder Stephen King delivered two of those United shots on goal and had two others that had potential to settle the match.In the 15th minute King slalomed forward from his holding midfield position and blasted a shot from the top of the box that RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando could only punch away. Najar chest-trapped Rimandos save just out side the box and managed to flick it back up to his chest as he danced forward into the area. Najar then had two RSL defenders on their heels before Borchers finally cleared for a throw-in.Just before half- time Kings work rate paid dividends when he drilled a shot from ten yards out that was saved from Rimando. Kings pressure on RSLs Collen Warner in the defensive third led to a bad pass that set up the opportunity.Warners pass under pressure from King, was intercepted by Chris Pontius at the top of the area. Pontius then poked it to Santino Quaranta who one-touched it to a charging King for the shot.There was every reason to believe United would be able to find a way to win. Uniteds play resembled the friendly win over AC Milan, MLS victory over Chivas USA, and US Open Cup success against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.King and Clyde Simms continued to form a successful duo in the center of the midfield, while Pontius and Najar showed the flair on the flank. On defense, United reacted to the loss of left back Rodney Wallace to a bone bruise in the first half by bringing on Devon McTavish and then switching Graye to the left.In the second half Kings night of what could have been continued. In the 52nd minute Quaranta back-heeled a pass to King 15 yards from goal. King was a little bit too anxious, and instead of using the time to put the ball on his right foot, blasted a left-footed shot wide.Five minutes later it would be more frustration for King. Najar slipped behind the defense on the right flank and then used two cut-back moves to get space in the box. Najar then crossed a ball that pin-balled to King who put a shot from 12-yards over the crossbar.We had some clear chances we should have put away, Onalfo noted. When we missed that second one in the second half, I thought oh no this is one of those games. But our guys persevered and did not let anything bad happen at the other end.Indeed United did notlet the frustration of failing to score a goal lead to a lapse on defense and the conceding of a goal. That pattern played out all too often in Uniteds eight losses this season, but on this night the resolve was there and at least one point.Jamie Moreno, who was not available for game selection, spent the match chanting and beating a drum with the La Barra Brava supporters' group.