Photo by ISIphotos.com
By TRAVIS CLARK
WASHINGTON – Saturday night's match-up between the Colorado Rapids and D.C. United was one for the die-hards. The gritty match was marked by a series of hard fouls, tough physical play, and few scoring opportunities. But a Mehdi Ballouchy goal in the 67th minute sent United to yet another defeat, earning Colorado's first win in D.C. since 1999.
The game quickly descended into a chippy and physical encounter, as each side struggled to get a foothold in the game. Conor Casey couldn't finish one of the better chances, getting between United's defenders, only to see his glancing header go wide of Bill Hamid's goal.
Casey, who was making his first appearance since learning of his exclusion from the 30-man roster for the World Cup, struggled to find scoring opportunities as he was held in check by Juan Manuel Pena and Carey Talley. Omar Cummings, who outraced D.C. on the flanks all evening, lacked that final ball to spring Colorado's stagnant attack.
It was a game in desperate need of someone to step up to make the difference, and Mehdi Ballouchy rose to the occasion in the second half. A hard tackle by Wells Thompson freed the ball for Conor Casey, who found Ballouchy on a run down the right hand flank. The Moroccan carried the ball into the box, carved enough space in front of Juan Manuel Pena, and unleashed a shot that beat Bill Hamid at his near post.
The few chances that D.C. created — only getting three shots on goal, all in the first half — were handled easily enough by Matt Pickens. Australian striker Danny Allsopp made a few dangerous runs, but his best effort of the night came in the first half, when a tight-angled shot was easily saved by Pickens.
The second half substitutions of Jaime Moreno and Andy Najar would prove no help for the home side, as United's direct approach was easily handled by Julian Baudet and Drew Moor in the center of Colorado's defense.
At Jorge Gonzalez's final whistle, United tumbled to a sixth loss in seven games — and remain mired at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. It was the ideal result for Colorado, who put an end to its abbreviated losing streak, and get a bye next weekend.
Here are the match highlights: