WASHINGTON – The wait is over for Eddie Johnson.
The D.C. United striker – just a few days removed from learning of his exclusion from the US national team’s provisional World Cup roster – notched his first goal of 2014 on Saturday night, a late equalizer that earned United a 1-1 draw against the Montreal Impact in front 14,106 at RFK Stadium.
Both teams struggled to get in gear during an uneventful first half.
D.C. did little with the handful of scoring chances they generated, though several players – most notably United forward Fabian Espindola – played with eagerness and pushed to create a small crop of opportunities. United came closest to scoring in the 15th minute, when Espindola’s low, pacy cross took a deflection and caromed off Impact center back Wandrille Lefevre’s head, nearly handing D.C. an own goal.
Johnson, at times a bit disconnected, still managed three decent chances in the first half. A header in the 5th minute was deflected inches wide, another header went off the crossbar, and a strike from the right side of the box got past goalkeeper Troy Perkins but found its way harmlessly into the exterior side netting of the goal.
Montreal – playing without the services of defender Marco Ferrari (calf) and forward Marco DiVaio (hamstring) – played a similarly uninspired first half, though they came alive in the final five minutes. Early efforts from former Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney and midfielder Felipe both went well wide, while United goalkeeper Bill Hamid did well to smother a pair of chances from Impact midfielder Sanna Nyassi late in the half.
The impact carried that energy into the game’s second interval, and it paid dividends shortly after the opening whistle. In the 56th minute, Montreal midfielder Justin Mapp took advantage of a poor first touch from United outside back Cristian, collecting the ball on the right flank and finding McInerney with relative ease at the top of the six-yard-box for an easy tap-in.
D.C.’s attempt at a comeback was at first unsuccessful; second half substitute Luis Silva struck the woodwork mid-way through the half, and Espindola’s efforts to equalize proved futile as well.
Just five minutes from full time, Johnson found his goal heading home a wonderfully struck Espindola cross from six yards out.
United next host a midweek game against Houston on Wednesday, then travel to New England on Saturday, May 24. The Impact will regroup before heading west to Colorado, also on May 24.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Fabian Espindola||Espindola was the point of every United opportunity and was finally rewarded with the late assist|
|2||Eddie Johnson||He came close early on and then finally broke through with the late game-tying goal|
|3||Justin Mapp||Mapp knows when to go where, and this led to the baseline move to set up the goal|