For the second straight game on the road the Montreal Impact had a victory within reach. And for the second straight game they let points get away.
Maicon Santos' 73rd-minute goal on a low shot from distance cancelled out Bernardo Corradi's 68th-minute header, as D.C. United and the Impact settled for a 1-1 draw in front of 10,135 at RFK Stadium Wednesday night.
The script was all too familiar for Montreal, which went ahead of FC Dallas on a Corradi penalty kick in the second half only to watch the hosts battle back for the win. At the very least, the Impact walked away from RFK with their first road point in their expansion season.
"If we're being honest with ourselves, we let two points slip away," Montreal captain Davy Arnaud said. "We get the goal again to take the lead, and then we let them back in it. At the end of the day it is a point on the road, and when you're on the road you want to pick up points, but at some point we have to turn these good performances into wins. The positive is that we feel like we're performing enough to be able to do that."
The Impact could have stolen the win late, but Arnaud missed a clear look from the center of the box after a series of failed sequences following a corner kick in the 87th minute.
"I just pulled it a little bit wide," Arnaud said. "You want to do better in that situation. You want to hit the target, and I'd like to have it back."
Santos, who turned 28 on Wednesday, also could have had a late winner for D.C., but he was ruled offside on a 90th-minute chance that he converted off a cross from Dwayne De Rosario. He appeared to be a shade in front of centerback Matteo Ferrari when De Rosario played his ball in from the right.
"I don't think I was off, but they give the offsides," said Santos, who has four goals in his last four matches. "What can I do?"
While the second half was full of action, the first 45 minutes were devoid of chances for both teams, with Montreal employing high pressure that flustered a D.C. lineup with three different attacking starters than Saturday's win in New England. Chris Pontius started up top alongside De Rosario, while Branko Boskovic returned to the starting XI in the midfield and Andy Najar made his first appearance since returning from CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.
The result a disjointed attack that struggled to get in a rhythm while Sanna Nyassi, Arnaud and Corradi pressed deep in D.C.'s own end.
The second half yielded a more free-flowing game, with Donovan Ricketts coming up big on two occassions to stone De Rosario from giving D.C. the lead.
No play was bigger than when Ricketts raced off his line to slide tackle a ball off De Rosario's foot at the top of the box after rookie Nick DeLeon played a perfectly timed through ball by a high line and had the reigning league MVP in on goal all alone in the 49th minute.
Ricketts stuffed De Rosario again in the 51st minute, when Chris Korb's long ball from his right back slot bounced by Ferrari, who either did not see De Rosario trying to track it down or thought that Ricketts was coming out to get it. Instead, De Rosario got a foot to the ball, but hit it right into Ricketts' chest.
The Impact made Ricketts' saves seem large when they grabbed the lead off Corradi's second goal in as many games. Substitute winger Lamar Neagle put a pinpoint cross in from the right and found Corradi unmarked by the far post for a free header.
"It was a strong ball," Corradi said. "I decided not to go to the near post because everyone was there. Eighty percent of this goal was Lamar."
Santos got the better of Ricketts soon after, though, beating him near post on a low shot from 30 yards out.
While the goal saved a point for D.C., it also ensured that the club did not win consecutive games for the first time since June, 2009. It did, however, extend the club's unbeaten streak to five games ahead of this Sunday's Atlantic Cup meeting with the New York Red Bulls.
Montreal, meanwhile, gets a 10-day break after a hectic start to its inaugural MLS campaign, returning home to face the Portland Timbers on April 28.
"I think we deserved more, and now we have to use this 10 days before the home game to analyze what we did wrong and try to give 90 minutes instead of 70-75," Corradi said. "We're growing up like a team. We're getting to know each other better and better, and we have to keep working like we are every day."