WASHINGTON – For the second week running, D.C. United battled to a hard-fought, scrappy draw, following up last week’s 0-0 result at New England with a 1-1 tie against Colorado on Sunday.
For a chunk of the second half, it certainly didn’t seem like United were destined to extract points from the affair. Both teams struggled to create meaningful chances, but Colorado managed to crawl ahead on a Dillon Powers header midway through the second stanza.
In the game’s late stages, D.C. were left in need of a spark, one they found in Argentine midfielder Fabian Espindola, who came off the bench to score the equalizer.
“I thought overall up until that point there was still a lot of good final-third entries, a lot of good buildup and a lot of good possession in their end,” United head coach Ben Olsen said after the match. “It’s still about making plays and that’s what Fabi does. It was a long week for Fabi – he had a baby earlier in the week and I don’t think it was the most restful few days for him, so we decided to not start him, to bring him off the bench. That happens throughout the season. You’re going to have to play a role.”
Espindola, normally a lock starter, had suffered a hamstring strain in Week 2, then missed several days while spending time with his newborn daughter this week. He looked energetic from the moment he took the pitch in the 60th minute, leveling the match some 20 minutes later. A well-positioned Espindola gobbled up a rebound and lashed home a tidy finish with his weaker right foot from eight yards.
“He [brings] something that not a lot of guys have for us – he roams around and finds ways to overload and kind of unbalance [our opponent],” said United defender Taylor Kemp, who served the initial ball into the box on Espindola’s goal. “I think he’d be the first to say he was lacking a little bit of sharpness with certain stuff, but he’s someone who no matter what kind of game he’s having, he can find ways to be dangerous for us.
“It was kind of an ugly goal, but it’s something he’s capable of doing. … when we see him coming in, we know that we can push, and he can add an element, a surprise for us.”
D.C winger Patrick Nyarko was also effective, using his pace to stretch the Rapids defense and drawing several fouls in the final third.
“I thought Patrick was fantastic,” said Olsen. “He pushed teams back, he helps us with possession, he keeps guys guessing. Again he has a good balance of when to understand it’s time to go north, and when it’s time to get a little possession and help us build.
“I thought we had a lot of good performances. I thought Taylor Kemp was good, our back line was sharp, Sean Franklin, [Chris Rolfe] played his best game to date. I thought Nicky [DeLeon] and [Marcelo] Sarvas continued to grow in there. Again, a lot of good, but disappointed that we didn’t get three points out of it, because statistically it looks pretty good on paper – but it’s still not the result we wanted at home.”