The Washington Post Sunday

United’s shot at three points goes awry with Reyna’s miss



harrison, n.j. — Neither D.C. United nor the New York Red Bulls created a wealth of scoring opportunit­ies Saturday in a 1-1 match that visiting coach Hernán Losada called “ugly” on multiple occasions.

But there it was, in the 80th minute, with the outcome in the balance and United eyeing a rare three points on the road, Julian Gressel’s cross skipping off the grass and flying toward Yordy Reyna alone on the back side of the six-yard box.

Reyna, who has been terrific in the attack in the second half of the season, flung his body forward, attempting a diving header that, as the play unfolded, looked like the breakthrou­gh United had been hunting since Ola Kamara’s equalizer just before intermissi­on.

Reyna made solid contact but got under it, sending the ball streaking over the crossbar. The D.C. delegation on the sideline and the few dozen supporters in the upper deck all seemed to gasp in unison.

“It’s an open chance. It’s a chance that you can’t miss,” Losada said. “Yordy scored an incredible free kick against Atlanta and two beautiful goals against Columbus. You can’t blame him. Missing chances is part of this sport. If that goes in, you go back with three [points]; now it’s only one.”

Nonetheles­s, United (9-10-4) grabbed a valuable point on the road and extended its away unbeaten streak in the series to 1-0-2. Having beaten the Red Bulls in July, D.C. would need only a draw Oct. 27 to win the Atlantic Cup, the annual derby between MLS originals. The outcome also further stalled efforts by the Red Bulls (6-10-5) to join the Eastern Conference playoff race. United remained above the postseason line, tying Montreal for sixth place with 11 matches left. The top seven will advance, but the No. 4 through No. 10 places are cluttered.

In its first game back from the two-week internatio­nal break, United was not as fluid as it has shown during the encouragin­g summer.

“It was not the easiest game to watch, but it’s not easy to come back, and we did it again,” Losada said. “Not based on the play or the quality of play but on the quality of the chances, we need to win this game. It’s a pity because we came here for the three” points.

The pause in the schedule allowed winger Paul Arriola and defender Donovan Pines to regain fitness after recovering from hamstring and foot injuries, respective­ly. Both were in the lineup. Pines went the distance, while Arriola logged 63 minutes.

Pines made his first appearance since July 3, an absence that began with U.S. Gold Cup duty. He received a rude reintroduc­tion.

In the fifth minute, Patryk Klimala bumped the 6-foot-4 center back off the ball at the sideline. Losada howled for a foul. None was called. Klimala took three touches before squaring the ball to Dru Yearwood for a 22-yard shot that deflected off sliding Drew Skundrich and streaked past goalkeeper Jon Kempin.

“Obviously, it was a bad start,” Losada said. “Unfortunat­ely, [referee Robert Sibiga] let the play go on.”

Kempin made his sixth consecutiv­e start in place of Bill Hamid (coronaviru­s recovery), who seems likely to be in uniform Wednesday against the Chicago Fire at Audi Field.

United created a few first-half threats, most notably captain Steven Birnbaum’s side volley of Gressel’s free kick that goalkeeper Carlos Coronel pushed away. The match was open enough, though, that more opportunit­ies were bound to follow.

United pulled even in the 44th minute thanks to video replay and Kamara’s penalty kick.

Kevin Paredes crossed to Arriola for a shot that caromed off Sean Nealis for a corner kick. But that carom had come off Nealis’s hand. Sibiga reviewed the play and awarded the penalty.

Kamara stuck it into the low left corner for his 13th goal; he has converted all five attempts from the penalty spot.

Momentum flowed after intermissi­on. After 18 minutes, Losada replaced speed (Arriola) with size (Ramón Ábila).

After Reyna’s miss, Ábila had a late opportunit­y, collecting Paredes’s clever touch and cutting the ball back three times in the box but failing to launch a clean shot.

United was tight defensivel­y, shutting down promising chances and blocking bids in the box to secure the draw.

“It was a good effort to come back, get that goal before halftime,” midfielder Russell Canouse said. “That was big for the mental side of the game. We competed. We didn’t create as many chances as in past games, but overall the level of commitment was there. Still a little disappoint­ing not to get three points.”

Notes: Edison Flores (Peru), Júnior Moreno (Venezuela) and Andy Najar (Honduras) returned from internatio­nal duty in recent days and did not travel to New Jersey. They are expected to be in uniform Wednesday . . . .

Brendan Hines-Ike (hip), Adrien Perez (foot), Chris OdoiAtsem (quadriceps) and Nigel Robertha (groin) are injured.

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