Apr 8, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United midfielder Luciano Acosta (10) celebrates after scoring a goal against New York City FC in the second half at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. United won 2-1. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

United end scoring drought, defeat Atlanta 2-1

On the longest day of the year, where a clear sky made way for a day full of sunshine, D.C. United ended its scoring drought Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Atlanta United.

“It was a step in the right direction,” coach Ben Olsen said.

United found its goal oasis in the 23rd minute, when forward Luciano Acosta finally broke the 400-minute goal drought, 688 minutes if you are only including goals in the run of play.

The United went down early in the 17th minute due to a lapse in communication between midfielder Ian Harkes and United’s defenders. Atlanta midfielder Yamil Asad capitalized on the turnover. Asad passed the ball to forward Miguel Almiron inside the 18-yard box. Almiron quickly crossed to rookie Julian Gressel inside the six-yard box for the finish.

“It is an easy game to throw your hands up early,” Olsen said. “I think we did very well in the first half and just turned off on one player and they punished us for it.”

With Atlanta United up 1-0, goalkeeper Alec Kann made the mistake of kicking the ball instead of picking it up. Acosta saw the opportunity and ran with it. Kann’s clear landed at Acosta’s chest inside the 18-yard box. The forward finessed his way around defender Michael Parkhurst and finally ended United’s scoreless run just minutes after fans at RFK Stadium begged for a “[expletive] goal.”

“Today was a much more even game.” Olsen said comparing Wednesday’s game to the last time United met Atlanta, a 3-1 loss on April 30. “We trusted the next guy and gave him a little more time with the ball. [We were] more patient side to side.”

United was able to counter with Acosta’s goal, and then add another goal in the second half to win the game. Midfielder Patrick Nyarko, who is still working back from a hamstring injury, had several chances in the box. As a creative player Nyarko gets concerned if United isn’t creating chance rather than the lack of goals.

“I am not worried if we are not scoring,” Nyarko said. “If we are not creating, I will be worried. At that point I was not worried at all. I knew eventually one was going to go in.”

One of the more promising chances for United and Nyarko came in the 51st minute when the midfielder headed the ball, which banged off of the crossbar.

“It was getting a little unlucky there,” Nyarko said.

Rest assured for United, Nyarko’s goal game less than ten minutes later. Nyarko volleyed the game-winning goal into the net in the 60th minute. Receiving the cross on his chest, the midfielder settled the ball and hit a shot in the air from the top of the box past Kann.

“The build up to it was very good,” Nyarko said. “I just positioned myself in the box like I have been doing all game.”

Some of the weight has been lifted off of United’s chest after finally scoring and winning at home. The question now is can the team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table keep climbing.

“It feels good. The guys played really well today,” Nyarko said. “They should enjoy this, but there is no way we should be satisfied. We have to keep going. We have to get more. This feeling we have today, we want to feel it more.”

United (5-8-3) won’t have to wait long for that next chance to “feel” a win again. The club travels up I-95 Saturday, June 24 for a match against the Philadelphia Union (4-7-4) at 7 p.m.

Emily Olsen
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Emily Olsen

DC United Beat Writer at The Left Bench
Emily Olsen is the D.C. United beat reporter for The Left Bench. She has also covered basketball recruiting. Emily dreams of one day traveling the world reporting on the Olympics and World Cups. In her off time, Emily enjoys coloring outside the lines.
Emily Olsen
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About Emily Olsen 112 Articles
Emily Olsen is the D.C. United beat reporter for The Left Bench. She has also covered basketball recruiting. Emily dreams of one day traveling the world reporting on the Olympics and World Cups. In her off time, Emily enjoys coloring outside the lines.