Fabian Espindola didn’t get the memo.
Stade Saputo was honoring Marco Di Vaio on the last day of his soccer career this Saturday afternoon, but Espindola spoiled the party somewhat, scoring a late equalizer as Montreal and D.C. United settled for a 1-1 tie. Di Vaio – who else? – scored the opener for Montreal.
Espindola’s goal came in the 86th minute. After United’s fourth corner kick of the game, Espindola dribbled on the edge of the Montreal area before unleashing a low drive at the near post that diving Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush couldn’t quite reach. United had been pushing hard for the equalizer for most of the second half.
United nearly found a winner in stoppage time when Eddie Johnson had a one-on-one chance stopped by Bush. Three points would've pushed DC past LA Galaxy for the second-spot in the final Supporters' Shield standings, something that could come into play should United qualify for MLS Cup out of the Eastern Conference. D.C., which had already clinched the East's top seed prior to Saturday's match, will return to the MLS Cup Playoffs next weekend against the Columbus Crew, New York Red Bulls or Sporting Kansas City.
Di Vaio’s goal, scored in the 27th minute, was a vintage effort from the Italian striker. Dilly Duka sent him through, playing him behind a lagging D.C. defense in the center-left channel. Di Vaio took a few touches toward goalkeeper Bill Hamid before finishing confidently with the outside of his right foot.
With three defenders suspended, Montreal’s backline averaged 22 years of age until Krzysztof Krol replaced Maxim Tissot in the 59th minute. Tissot and colleagues Wandrille Lefèvre, Karl W. Ouimette and Eric Miller managed the game well, but D.C. put them under pressure several times, especially after Di Vaio opened the score. Some fine hold-up play by Johnson in the 44th minute allowed Nick DeLeon to take a hard shot from just outside the box, but he hit it straight at Bush.
Di Vaio’s teammates understandably tried to set him up for more goals after his opener, mostly on the counter. The best chance came in the 52nd minute when, on a 2-on-0, Andres Romerocrossed for a wide open Di Vaio only for Sean Franklin to recover just in time to deflect the ball away.
D.C. United will play on the road next weekend at either Columbus, New York or Kansas City (based on scorelines this weekend and the result of a mid-week knockout match). United will host the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Nov. 8 at 2:30 p.m. - buy tickets