It took over 2,350 miles for D.C United to find a goal. After being held scoreless in three consecutive games at home, United defeated Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 on the road, improving to 4-6-2 on the season.
After a scoreless first half, United caught a huge break in the 61st minute. With a crowd of players inside the 18-yard box, Jose Ortiz fell to the ground with the ball at his feet. Referee Sorin Stoica controversially called Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston for the penalty.
Seeing an opportunity and taking full advantage, United midfielder Lamar Neagle delivered a shot to the upper left corner over the outstretched hands of goalkeeper David Ousted,putting United up 1-0. The goal was the lone score of the game.
Impressed with his team’s ability to hang in the game with Vancouver, coach Ben Olsen called United’s performance “gutsy.”
In the last three matches before Vancouver, United gave up six goals. Against the Whitecaps, United’s defense stood tall. The key player was once again goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Hamid made four huge saves, but the veteran goalkeeper also had some help from the crossbar. Ten of Vancouver’s 22 shots were off target.
The biggest save came in stoppage time when referees awarded Vancouver a penalty kick after play had already resumed. After much deliberation from the referees, Vancouver took the kick which clanged off the right post and out of danger.
The game showed a lot of heart from the traveling United, captain Steve Birnbaum said.
United played yet another mixed lineup after losing both defender Bobby Boswell and midfielder Lloyd Sam to groin injuries before the game even started.
A strong defensive performance, another consistent performance from Hamid and a little luck was all it took for United to claim victory far from home.
“Long travel gives us a chance as a team to be together,” Hamid said. “There is something about that long travel that keeps us together and gives us a little bit more chemistry.”
United had to overcome both the Whitecaps and some long distance travel Saturday night. They departed Washington, D.C. Thursday afternoon. After a layover in Toronto, a match against Vancouver, a bus trip to Seattle and a flight to orlando, United will close out a two game road trip that covers more than 7,000 miles in less than seven days Wednesday, May 31 against Orlando City SC.
“The preparation still has to be key,” Hamid said of the upcoming match and travel. “We have to take care of ourselves, get rest, stay off our legs and just come with a good game plan in another tough environment.”
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