Santos scores fourth goal after D.C. falls behind first
United 1, Impact 1
Maicon Santos was the one delivering a present on his birthday, a team-high fourth goal to help D.C. United salvage a 1-1 draw in its first-ever game against the struggling expansion Montreal Impact in front of a sparse crowd of 10,135 at RFK Stadium.
But the celebration was muted for United, which in spite of extending its unbeaten streak to five games missed out on yet another chance to record consecutive MLS victories, something it hasn't done since 2009.
"It's a disappointing tie for sure," said United coach Ben Olsen. "Look, they're a good team. We watched a lot of film, and they're a tough team. We knew they'd come in here a little desperate and with a real sense of urgency and fight about them. We talked about matching that early and not getting bullied around, and I thought they did that."
Outmuscled and outplayed, United (2-2-3, 9 points) wrestled control in the second half and then turned to the Brazilian, who turned in another decisive performance.
Four minutes after the Impact (1-5-2, 5 points) stunned the home side with a classic counterattack, Maicon Santos delivered his team-leading fourth goal of the year from 30 yards out in the 72nd minute. Receiving a pass from Perry Kitchen with his back to the net, Santos turned inside, took two touches, and pounded a low, left-footed shot that skipped multiple times past a late-reacting Donovan Ricketts into the lower right corner.
Santos thought he had the game winner in the 90th minute when he met Dwayne De Rosario's cross at the six-yard box, but he was denied by an offside call that on replay was shown to be accurate by just a fraction.
"To be honest, I been trying every game, a shot on goal as much as I can, and it's been working," said Santos, who registered eight shots in 30 minutes. "I been scoring a couple goals. I know [Ricketts] from [Los Angeles] Galaxy, so I know the way he works, the kind of bad stuff about him."
Olsen, who made a number of changes from the side that had beaten New England on the road four days earlier, had to lay into his team at halftime after a forgettable start expected again a team desperate to get its first points away from home. With all of their losses coming on the road, the Impact laid into every loose ball and crunched into repeated hard tackles.
Branko Boskovic, making his first start since the season-opener in early March, took an elbow to the head on a corner kick in the first minute and was sent sprawling two minutes later. He collided with Davy Arnaud multiple times in the first half, and both players heard words from the referee though neither was carded.
D.C. struggled to string together passing combinations and had a number of lazy efforts intercepted. Andy Najar's wayward volley off a cross was the best chance to score before Boskovic nearly picked out De Rosario from the left side just before the whistle.
"They came with the right energy and in particularly early we just didn't have that pep, that anger that we needed tonight," Olsen said. "Now, the second half was great. But it takes me to get them all riled up at halftime to have that type of response."
Despite no halftime changes to the lineup, D.C. United was unrecognizable from the team that started the game, dominating possession and putting Montreal on its heels. De Rosario muffed a one-on-one chance with Ricketts in the 49th minute and softly settled a long ball two minutes later right into Ricketts' path. Chris Pontius sent two balls gently across the box but found no takers for shots.
"We did enough to win," Olsen said. "The game was there for us. We've just got to finish a couple chances."
The Impact made D.C. pay for its failed bids in the 68th minute. Chris Korb, making his second start of the year at right back thanks to United's shorthanded numbers on the backline due to injury, gave away the ball deep after launching a throw-in into a trio of Montreal defenders.
Justin Mapp headed quickly in the other direction for the visitors, getting a return pass and playing the ball to the right end line to Lamar Neagle. Korb failed to track Bernardo Corradi behind him as raced toward his own goal, and the Italian nodded home Neagle's cross with ease.
Goalkeeper Joe Willis didn't see another shot on goal in the contest, evidence that D.C. United continues to improve even if their latest result wasn't wholly satisfying.
"Twenty-eight. I'm getting old," Santos said. "I need to score. I wish it was two [goals] and three points, that would be even better."