United ends skid at three on Nea­gle’s penalty kick

D.C. UNITED 1, WHITE­CAPS 0

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN GOFF steven.goff@wash­post.com

Af­ter three con­sec­u­tive de­feats at home and a score­less rut that eclipsed 360 min­utes, D.C. United ached for some good for­tune Satur­day at BC Place.

It ar­rived in the form of a fa­vor­able de­ci­sion early in the sec­ond half and four Van­cou­ver White­caps shots that struck the goal frame, in­clud­ing Cris­tian Techera’s penalty kick deep into stop­page time that left United with a 1-0 vic­tory.

La­mar Nea­gle con­verted his penalty-kick op­por­tu­nity in the 61st minute as United (4-6-2) re­cov­ered from an aw­ful home­s­tand and stretched its un­beaten streak on the road to three matches.

Bill Hamid was ex­cep­tional in net, mak­ing sev­eral sen­sa­tional saves. How­ever, in the dy­ing mo­ments, he was beaten to a free kick by Brek Shea. As Shea’s header crashed off the cross­bar, Hamid’s two fists crashed into Shea’s head.

While med­i­cal staff at­tended to Shea, ref­eree Sorin Sto­ica con­ferred with an as­sis­tant lines­man about the col­li­sion. Sto­ica awarded the penalty. Techera’s at­tempt, how­ever, stung the base of the right post, and United was able to kill off the last few min­utes against the White­caps (5-6-1).

“I am re­ally proud of the guys, the way they hung in there,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “We hung on Bill a lit­tle bit, again a lit­tle bit more than we would like, but you need that on the road. We also got a lit­tle help from the cross­bar. It was never go­ing to be easy to get out of this los­ing streak. It was gutsy.”

Olsen al­tered his formation and per­son­nel. He re­turned to a five-mid­field, one-for­ward set af­ter us­ing two play­ers up front in the 1-0 de­feat to Chicago last week­end. Lu­ciano Acosta re­turned from sus­pen­sion, pair­ing in cen­tral mid­field with Ian Harkes.

Jose Guillermo Or­tiz sup­planted Pa­trick Mullins at striker, Se­bastien Le Toux re­placed Lloyd Sam (slight groin strain) on the right flank and Kofi Opare bumped Bobby Boswell (groin) in cen­tral de­fense.

United got off to a bright start as Acosta com­bined with Harkes, whose back heel set up the Ar­gen­tine for a 22-yard ef­fort that drew a soar­ing save by David Ousted.

Van­cou­ver dic­tated play the rest of the half and cre­ated four out­stand­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties: Hamid made ster­ling saves on two of them, the cross­bar thwarted two oth­ers.

In the 19th minute, Fredy Mon­tero crossed to Techera for a five-yard header off the bar. A minute later, Ken­dall Was­ton flicked an eight-yarder off the frame. Late in the half, Hamid made a re­ac­tion save with his right foot on Tim Parker’s six-yard header and blocked Mon­tero’s eight-yard one-timer af­ter a for­tu­itous carom off United cap­tain Steve Birn­baum fell into the for­ward’s path.

United went ahead on Nea­gle’s first goal of the year, end­ing the team’s score­less streak at 365 min­utes.

Acosta linked with Or­tiz at the top of the penalty area. Or­tiz be­gan to ac­cel­er­ate past Was­ton, his Costa Ri­can na­tional team­mate. Was­ton reached out and grabbed Or­tiz’s mid­sec­tion for an in­stant. Was­ton’s ac­tion wasn’t egre­gious, but enough to dis­rupt Or­tiz’s dash and prompt the for­ward to take a tum­ble. Sto­ica pointed to the spot, draw­ing howls of protest from the White­caps.

Nea­gle, United’s lead­ing scorer in 2016, pock­eted the penalty kick into the top left cor­ner.

The White­caps turned up the heat, but United en­dured pres­sure and Hamid made a fine save on Mon­tero.

United notes: For­ward Al­haji Ka­mara, on loan to the sec­ond-di­vi­sion Rich­mond Kick­ers, recorded a hat trick in a 25-minute span dur­ing a 5-3 loss at Ot­tawa. Both he and on-loan midfielder Chris Durkin played 90 min­utes . . . . De­fender Sean Franklin (ham­string), midfielder-de­fender Nick DeLeon (her­nia surgery) and midfielder-for­ward Rob Vin­cent (blood clot) re­main side­lined.

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