WASHINGTON — For D.C. United it was déjà vu all over again on Saturday night — and not in a good way.
With a late 2-1 lead on their home field, DC were minutes away from a valuable three points against an Eastern foe — the conference-leading Philadelphia Union — the same position they found themselves one week ago against Houston.
But once again, a defensive lapse cost them the win, as Union forward Carlos Ruiz bundled home a cross from Sheanon Williams to steal a point in the 85th minute. It was the same story, different day.
“It’s obviously disappointing to tie again and it hurts a little bit more because it was the second one,” DC head coach Ben Olsen told reporters after the game. “We gave them more chances that we’d like at a home game, or any game for that matter. We were kind of living on the edge there for a bit on stretches.”
There was a familiar feeling to it, even for one of the new players, defender Brandon McDonald who recently arrived in a trade with San Jose.
“I feel like I’ve been here all season after that,” he said. “You could tell that’s what’s been happening. It was a big blow, but we have to keep our heads up and look forward to next week.”
Andy Najar’s sensational 58th-minute strike had put United in front in the second half after the two sides traded goals. After a nifty dribbling move, the midfielder found himself in acres of space in front of Philly’s defense. He uncorked a shot that Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón couldn’t stop with a diving lunge.
“It was a great goal,” Olsen said. “Unbelievable.”
But it wouldn’t be enough, as for the second consecutive week, DC couldn’t hold the lead in the dying minutes, something that could prove costly come season’s end.
“It’s something that we discussed based on our last result, and again it’s there to take and we’re not taking it,” said forward Josh Wolff, who wore the captain’s armband to start the match. “We’re going to look back in September and October, these are points you can’t make up for.”
Prior to the closing moments, it had been a tough and gritty affair between two regional rivals. United’s new acquisitions Dwayne De Rosario and McDonald both started and played 90 minutes, each leaving an impact on the game in their respective D.C. debut.
De Rosario set up DC’s first of the night, finding Wolff unmarked, right in front of the goal in the 44th minute. And McDonald provided a steady presence at the back, providing an experienced leader and doing his best to keep things organized at the back.
He saw plenty of positives in his debut — despite the result.
“I think we’ll be OK,” McDonald said. “There are a lot of good things that are happening today and we can build on that. We just have to stay more disciplined to see those games out.”
Added Olsen, “Overall I’m very disappointed not getting the three points. But I’m pleased with some performances out there.”