WASHINGTON — D.C. United were only minutes away from three points Saturday night at RFK Stadium.
After a rather uneven effort, a Charlie Davies goal in the second half had them poised for three points against Eastern Conference foes Houston Dynamo.
But as has happened frequently this season, a lapse in defense late in the game allowed an equalizer as the Dynamo tied the game in the 89th minute. An unmarked Brian Ching glanced a tying header home to earn a 2-2 draw for the away side.
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“It’s very unfortunate,” said goalkeeper Bill Hamid. “I don’t think anybody in this locker room or organization is happy right now.”
Making the last sequence even more frustrating was Ching’s header seemed to be headed safely into Hamid’s hands; however, it took a glance off central defender Perry Kitchen.
“It probably would have gone right to Bill,” Kitchen said. “It’s unlucky. Definitely not a good play.”
The performance up until the last five minutes of the game had been inconsistent for DC. After a heavy defeat down at Houston at the end of April, United came out inspired and with a lot of energy, creating several chances in the first 20 minutes. But they simply couldn’t convert.
They finally took the lead in the 31st minute off a Chris Pontius strike from distance. But Houston tied the game with a penalty kick earned by Ching in the 41st minute.
United almost retook the lead minutes later, as Davies' diving header was kept out by a splendid Tally Hall save.
“It was definitely a downer because I made great contact with it, and it’s one of those things when you get a cross and you get a good part of the ball off your head, you think no matter what it’s going to go in,” Davies said. “He made a great reflex save and kept his team in the game.”
After the break, things went south.
“The way we were most of the second half, we should have been losing that game,” head coach Ben Olsen said.
Houston surged forward in the second half, coming out flying with the score tied at 1-1. They were kept at bay only by a couple of acrobatic saves by Hamid, and with the help of the post. Against the run of play, Davies poked home past Hall after a long and mazy run by midfielder Andy Najar in the 73rd minute.
Ching’s last-gasp strike spoiled that goal for Davies, a potential game-winning goal on his 25th birthday.
“It’s not a good feeling,” Davies said. “We came in today with the intention of getting three points at home. It’s something we really need to focus on and really make RFK a place where people just can’t come in here and get points and get results.”
Olsen lamented how many chances they gave up throughout the evening.
“We’re still giving up a lot of opportunities,” he said. “I thought in the first half, we talked about silly fouls, and not giving away cheap ones, so they can play to their strengths, whipping balls into the big guys. And we didn’t get that part.”