WASHINGTON, May 19, 2014 — Eddie Johnson’s week began with disappointment, but ended on Saturday night with his first goal of the season in a D.C. United jersey. Snubbed by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann when he was left off the World Cup roster on Monday, Johnson may have had a point to prove going into the game against the visiting Montreal Impact. His 84th minute header salvaged a vital point for United in the 1-1 tie before 14,106 at RFK Stadium.
Despite a heart-breaker loss at Portland recently, United (4-3-3, 15 points) has been on a run of good form, but was surprised to be down 1-0 after 56 minutes to Montreal (1-5-4, 7pts.), the Eastern Conference’s bottom team.
With just six minutes left on the clock, it looked like United was about to lose all three points after the Impact had taken the lead on Jack McInerney’s close-range strike. It was Justin Mapp, probably the most versatile player on the field, who set up the goal. Mapp easily beat United defender Cristian Fernandez along byline and passed to McInerney in the six-yard box, who with two touches easily slotted the ball passed Bill Hamid.
With the lead Montreal tried to slow the game down, but United took advantage of a quick counterattack to get back in the game. Chris Rolfe fed Fabien Espindola on the left flank and the Argentine striker played a perfect cross into the Impact’s box. It was ideal bait for Johnson, who rose high and headed the ball past goalie Troy Perkins to notch his first goal ten games into the season.
“It was good for him to score a goal,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “He’s in so many good spots good and we’ve let him down a lot with lack of quality service. He knows what to do in the six yard box when the ball is delivered properly. We just need to give him the service and he’ll get on the board more”
Olsen will be hoping many more goals will now be coming from the team’s highest paid player.
Hamid played another good game for United in the nets pulling off three big saves to stop Montreal’s Sanna Nyassi. And defender Chris Korb had a good outing in the team for the injured Sean Franklin. He tested Perkins early with a shot and kept United alive blocking a McInerney shot.
United now takes on the Houston Dynamo (5-5-2, 17 pts.) at RFK on Wednesday night. With a win, United could leapfrog Houston to the second place in the conference behind the New England Revolution who they face on the road on Saturday.
The Player Ratings
Bill Hamid (7) – Made three huge saves to stop Sanna Nyassi’s shots proving he is clearly United’s No. 1 keeper.
Chris Korb (6.5) – Got in a nice early shot and made a number of vital defensive plays to keep United in the game.
Bobby Boswell (5) – Not a great night for Boswell who was a little lazy on some clearance balls.
Jeff Parke (5.5) – Gave Felipe Martins too much room at times. Not his best game.
Cristian Fernandez (5.5) – He did get beaten on the goal but on the night he was one of United’s best crossers of the ball.
Nick DeLeon (5) – Did a lot of running but his timing was off and he looked a little lost.
Perry Kitchen (5.5) – Struggled in the first half to take control of the midfield.
Davy Arnaud (6) – Sprayed a number of good passes to the flanks but tired in the second half.
Fabian Espindola (7) – D.C.’s leading goal scorer blew a good chance to give United the lead but had another good game, setting up Johnson’s goal with a fine cross.
Eddie Johnson (7) – Almost a week after not making the U.S. World Cup roster Johnson finally got his first goal of the season. His runs in the box paid off when he connected with Espindola’s cross and placed the header in the net.
Chris Rolfe (6.5) – Worked hard to set up the goal and came back to help out the backline at crucial times.
Luis Silva (6) – Made an impact as soon as he came on hitting the bar with a fine shot.
Lewis Neal (5.5) – Worked hard when he entered the field and gave the team more width.
Conor Doyle (NR)
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email [email protected]