April 17, 2009

Shalrie Joseph scored the opener in the 50 minute for New England, from a cross from captain Steve Ralston. But with just minutes remaining, Ben Olsen equalized from an assist from Jamie Moreno. With the assist, Moreno became the first ever MLS player to record a tally of 100 goals and 100 assists.

In a game dominated statistically by D.C. United, the homes side was forced to come back after not scoring the first goal of the game for the first time this season. New England, coming off a bye week last week, were able to keep the United attack at bay for 90 minutes, only to be undone in the dying moments of the game.

First Half

D.C. was coming off of a 2-1 defeat last week to Real Salt Lake, and came out early looking for the opening goal. They controlled the early proceedings of the match, and created more chances during the first half. However, stand in New England keeper Brad Knighton was up to the task of keeping United out, denying Ben Olsen and Christian Gomez of goal scoring opportunities in the first half.

A controversial moment arose in the 28 minute, when New England appealed for a penalty, after a Sainey Nyassi shot appeared to have hit D.C. defender Bryan Namoff in the arm. However, referee Jair Marrufo waved away New England's claims for a penalty, and United were able to clear the ball after a dangerous moment.

New England, who are still without star striker Taylor Twellman due to a neck injury, came out in a 4-5-1 formation, and looked to catch D.C. on the counter attack.

But with Clyde Simms patrolling the central midfield, and matching up against Joseph, New England struggled to create many chances. However, with the strong play of Knighton in goal, and the performance of the back line, they were able to keep United from scoring, and went into the halftime 0-0.

Second Half

Moments into the second half though, New England scored a goal through Joseph, and shocked the crowd of 14,441. Ralston and Wells Thompson interchanged a couple of passes, the last of which set up Ralston for a cross. Ralston's cross from the left found Joseph unmarked at the far post, and he was able to head the ball down under United 'keeper Louis Crayton for the 1-0 lead.

The goal pressed D.C. further forward looking for an equalizing goal, while New England tried to sit back and absorb the pressure applied by United. In the 54 minute, a Christian Gomez cross found Moreno open in the box, but Moreno put his effort straight at Knighton, who parried the ball away, while his defense cleared the ball to avoid any more immediate danger.

As United continued to push forward looking for the equalizing goal, New England was able to settle into the game, and were able to possess the ball more, as United chased around, looking to create something with less of the possession. United had a couple of more chances, but either Knighton was there to claim any shot, or United put their shots wide of the goal.

Rookie Chris Pontius twice had opportunities in the second half, but with the goal at his mercy, twice put his shots wide with teammates lurking in the middle of the box looking for a pass to score themselves.

And just when it looked like New England had hung on for the victory, United were able to find an equalizer to save a point.

Moments after the forth official indicated that two minutes of injury time would be played, United substitute Fred won a free kick deep within New England territory. Moreno, who had indicated earlier that he needed to come off and was denied due to United having used all three subs, stepped up and delivered a cross to the far post.

United midfielder Olsen met the cross with a header that he put on goal. The effort crossed the line and was helped in by New England substitute Pat Phelan. For United, it was the equalizing goal that they had been looking for the entire half.

United had two more chances after that goal to win the game, but a Fred half volley from outside of the box bounced just wide of the post, and then Knighton was able to collect a header from a free kick, as Marrufo signaled the end of the game.

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