WASHINGTON – D.C. United entered their match-up against the Montreal Impact on Sunday evening in dire need of a positive result, and they almost got it.
Sitting four points out of playoff contention, the game against Montreal represented the first of four consecutive home matches for United. Having only lost one of their previous nine encounters, the Impact did not appear to be the ideal team to break United’s doldrums.
Yet D.C. put in the work on Sunday, thoroughly out-possessing the Impact and out-shooting them as well. United looked comfortable on the ball and kept Didier Drogba – who got his marching orders after an 81st-minute red card – off the scoresheet entirely.
And they got another boost in the form of an early Patrick Mullins goal, as the former NYCFC forward found the back of the net just 20 minutes into his first United start.
It wasn’t enough. A late Impact equalizer dampened United’s spirits on Sunday, leaving a sour taste in D.C. head coach Ben Olsen’s mouth after a very positive outing resulted in a 1-1 draw.
“We were great. I thought we were great,” said Olsen. “Unfortunately we only get a point out of being great. But I told the group afterward, there is a lot of good here. That was some good stuff. The best I've seen a team play here in quite a while.”
Olsen offered a succinct summation of what went wrong for United on the day.
“We missed a [load] of chances,” said Olsen. “it's a pretty simple synopsis of this game.”
Though United out-shot the Impact at a two to one ratio, they only managed to steer three of their 16 shots on frame. A pair of second-half misses by Argentine midfielder Luciano Acosta stung in particularly, as they’d have likely put the game away for good. He wasn’t the only one: Nick DeLeon, Alvaro Saborio and a handful of others also missed the mark on Sunday.
It doesn’t get any easier for D.C. in the coming weeks. Match-ups against the Philadelphia Union, the Portland Timbers, the Red Bulls and a re-match with Montreal loom ahead.
“Now the challenge to staff and players is to bring that every weekend and you’ll be OK. You'll make the playoffs in this league if you can put in that type of performance, that type of focus over the course of a game, you're going to win more than you're going to lose.
“I'm gutted, don’t get me wrong. Those guys are gutted not getting three points but [they’re] extremely encouraged.“