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Match Report: D.C United 0-1 Sporting Kansas City

Tuesday 13th March 2012
CJ Sapong's injury-time header handed Sporting KC a 1-0 victory over D.C. United in both team's first match of the 2012 MLS season, in front of 16,314 fans at RFK Stadium.

When you think back to the opening of D.C. United's 2011 season, you realize how diametrically opposed it was to Saturday's this season's. A dream start with a 3-1 victory over conference rivals Columbus Crew and the inspiring storyline featuring Charlie Davies' personal miracle comeback scoring two goals, versus a disjointed 90 minutes from a team that was just getting a feel for each other and trying not to lose rather than producing an inspired win. D.C. United almost pulled it off, but fortunately for Sporting KC, a crack in the otherwise solid defense provided a goal and three points on the road.

The key to the game was ball possession, and Sporting KC won that easily with 56% possession, 17 shots to D.C.'s 7 and 111 more passes. Solid counter attacking by Sporting KC set up several long distance efforts in the first half including a 30-yard blast by Kei Kamara that sailed just wide and another shot set up by a cross from Roger Espinoza to Kamara on the far post that was saved by Bill Hamid's foot. A brilliant give and go between Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario provided one of the best opportunities of the night for D.C. United as Pontius struck a hard shot from 25 yards that went wide.

The second half provided more of the same with Sporting KC maintaining the possession and taking several shots on target, with both Graham Zusi and Espinoza going close, but a strong performance by Hamid kept the score at 0-0. Maicon Santos came on for Hamdi Salihi in the 80th minute and hit a free kick from 25 yards out that provided one of the few tests for Sporting KC goalie Jimmy Nielsen.

As regular time expired and both teams seemed ready to settle for a tie, a perfectly placed corner kick by Zusi found an unmarked Sapong for a header that bounced down and then to the right of Hamid.

After the loss, D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen shared his thoughts on a disappointing night. “I thought overall it wasn't the greatest night for us soccer-wise, but we kind of knew it wasn't going to be. It was the first time we stepped on the field for a 90-minute game because of last week. It's not an excuse it's just the reality, so we were a little rusty I thought, physically and mentally – they certainly were the better team. But we defended our box pretty well all night long, and I thought Bill [Hamid] was very good. We had a couple pretty good chances, as well. It's very disappointing to lose in the end like that after the guys put on a hell of an effort,” explained Olsen.

D.C. United (0-1-0) will travel to California on Sunday to face 2011 MLS Champions Los Angeles Galaxy (0-1-0) who lost 3-1 to Real Salt Lake this weekend.

DCU: Hamid; Russell, Jakovic, McDonald, Woolard; Najar, Kitchen, Boskovic, Pontius; De Rosario, Salihi. Subs: Willis, Dudar, Korb, King, Cruz, Wolff, Maicon Santos.

SKC: Nielsen; Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Julio Cesar, Espinoza, Zusi; Kamara, Bunbury, Convey. Subs: Kempin, Olum, Harrington, Sassano, Peterson, Saad, Sapong.
Enrico Dinges

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