WASHINGTON — In a matter of 10 minutes, D.C. United’s outlook in its second game of the 2020 Major League Soccer season went from misery to elation. United completed a 2-1 comeback victory against Inter Miami CF at Audi Field thanks to two second-half goals.
“When you get scored on early on, it’s normal that you lose a little bit, but our reaction was incredible,” United midfielder Felipe said. “The soccer part is going to come, but today we demonstrated that we are going to fight for everything.”
Down by a goal at the restart, United had to quickly find cohesion in what was an otherwise disjointed first 45 minutes.
In the 52nd minute, United’s one-goal deficit appeared to have doubled off the foot of Miami forward Lewis Morgan. Morgan’s shot bounced off a United defender and past goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
However, referee Rubiel Vazquez spoiled the Miami party when he motioned for video review.
After the review, Vazquez determined that defender Roman Torres had used his hand to deny United midfielder Julian Gressel of a goal scoring opportunity prior to the build up to Miami’s disallowed goal. The call sent Torres to the locker room in the 54th minute with a red card and gave United possession in Miami’s final third.
“I think it was the right call,” coach Ben Olsen said, “I thought it was a great response after the read card with a quick two [goals], and then we held on for the rest of the match.”
On the attack, United forward Edison Flores drew a foul inside the 18-yard box to give United a penalty kick. In preseason, striker Ola Kamara was United’s go-to spot kicker, but he left the game early due to injury. Without Kamara, winger Yamil Asad stepped forward and equalized for the home team.
“Maybe if Ola was on the field he would have taken it, but we have a lot of confidence in Yamil,” Olsen said.
After the game, Asad explained his excitement to be back with United after a year way from the team and his confidence in take the penalty kick.
“It felt really great to score again, to be back here and playing with D.C. United after a hard year personally,” Asad said. “I didn’t know if Ola was going to be there or not. It wouldn’t have been a fight, but I knew that one I was going to take.”
Despite a difficult first half, United found its spark. Within 10 minutes of Asad’s equalizing penalty kick, United found a go-ahead goal from defender Frédéric Brillant.
Flores lined-up to take a United free kick from 20 yards out in the 61st minute and his initial shot curled wide and hit off the post. Brillant sprinted in for the rebound, poking the ball past Miami’s keeper to put United ahead.
Inter Miami did make history Saturday as forward Rodolfo Pizarro opened the expansion team’s scoring with a short-range goal in the second minute. With a poor offensive turnover from United, No. 1 overall MLS SuperDraft pick Robbie Robinson sprinted down the center of the park before dishing a ball to Morgan. Morgan gave a quick pass in front of Hamid for Pizarro to finish and stamped another page of the Inter Miami history books.
Coming into the game, United prepared for Miami to line up with four center backs like it did in its inaugural game against LAFC last week. To United’s surprise, Miami coach Diego Alonso started a 3-4-3 formation.
“They came in with a three and caused us trouble,” Olsen said. “When they got the goal, we started to get impatient with our builds.”
United continued to build on playing out of the back against Miami, but were outmatched in the middle of the field. Having the advantage of an extra man and the late set pieces, United propelled past Miami by playing tight defense for the final half-hour of the game. With seven minutes of stoppage time, United warded off a series of Miami chances to secure the win.
“We weren’t dictating much,” Olsen said of the final minutes. “You have to see those plays out that [we] could have made 3-1 or 4-1 and punish them for the aggression that they showed.”
The Black-and-Red now have one win and one loss on the season. Olsen’s side will look for another victory next weekend at FC Cincinnati.