DC United had to work very hard in order to beat Sporting Kansas City last night in Washington. For almost 79 minutes, the home team fought with the struggling guests, before Paul Arriola scored a game-winner which set Audi Field on fire.
A narrow 1-0 victory for the hosts was enough to leave them at the top of the Eastern Conference. They have the same number of points as Philadelphia Union, 23, but the rival has better goal difference.
SKC had a lot of troubles before this match. They came to the capital without 10 players were all unavailable because of injuries. Six of them were from the starting lineup. Also, a pair of youngsters, Busio and Freeman, were called up to the national U-17 squad.
Because of the tough situation, the guests had just 4 players on the bench, and many expected an easy task for the United.
But it wasn’t like that. And the main reason is Tim Melia, SKC’s goalie who was absolutely fantastic last night. Without question, Melia was the star of the match even though his team lost the contest.
He had a couple of big-time saves, among them the one on Wayne Rooney’s free kick, and the second when he stopped Frederic Brilliant’s shot from a nearby.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 12, 2019
Though, it needs to be stressed that Washington’s goalkeeper, Bill Hamid also had a couple of interventions and that the guests played without any pressure, which was their advantage in this case. We could even say that SKC played better in the second 45 minutes than the guests.
But that didn’t matter in the end, after Paul Arriola’s beautiful kick. Some 12 minutes before the end, he received the ball on the left side of the box, right near the edge of the same. He then made a step to the side, and sent a curling strike which rounded Melia who brushed the ball with the tip of his fingers.
It was one of the most beautiful goals of the season.
This loss left SKC at the bottom of the Western Conference with 2 wins from 10 rounds, having just sorry Colorado Rapids behind them.
Up next, DC plays on the road, with Toronto FC this Wednesday, while SKC awaits Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.