By TATE STEINLAGE
It may not have been pretty, but D.C. United used a goal-less draw to clinch a spot in the playoffs less than a year after finishing with just three wins.
Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United were stuck in stalemate on Friday in front of 19,308 rain-soaked fans at RFK Stadium, a result that secured the home team a spot in the postseason.
Goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Andy Gruenebaum were rarely tested through 90 minutes, but stepped up when called upon to help their respective teams pick up a point in a tight Eastern Conference race.
The result means that D.C. United (15-9-7, 52 points) remain atop the Eastern Conference with three games left to play. Sporting KC (13-11-7, 46 points) jump the New England Revolution temporarily for second place.
The contest was a physical struggle in wet conditions as both teams looked to get ahead early. United nearly did so in the 28th minute, but Fabian Espindola’s shot was parried away by Gruenebaum, who got the nod in goal over Eric Kronberg.
Sporting KC were in and around goal for much of the evening as well, but their best chance didn’t come until the 76th minute. Seth Sinovic played an excellent diagonal ball to Dom Dwyer, who headed back into C.J. Sapong for a nodded attempt on frame that Hamid easily swallowed.
D.C. United did not have a clear look on goal like that in the 53rd minute, but they felt they were hard done-by after Chris Pontius rose up for a ball in the penalty area and was clipped by Igor Juliao. No call was made, however, and D.C. was forced to play on.
D.C. United could not find the breakthrough, but held on to earn a postseason berth with three games remaining in the regular season.
They’ll be back in action in nine days with a match in Houston against the Dynamo.
Sporting KC, who inched closer to securing a spot in the postseason themselves with the scoreless draw, will now turn their attention to a home match vs. the Chicago Fire next Friday.