In a crucial midweek matchup, D.C. United earned a 1-1 draw against the Montreal Impact in front of 19,740 fans at Stade Saputo. Playing the second of three games in seven days, the Black-and-Red’s depth was on display. The team, who looked strong despite seven changes to the starting lineup from head coach Ben Olsen, now remain unbeaten in five straight matches with the result.
“Playing on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday of the same week is just too much," Olsen said. "But it also gives you an opportunity to test your depth and manage the game. Some players who didn’t have a lot of minutes [prior to tonight] played well.”
Both teams set up strong defensively in the early stages, but United found the breakthrough goal late in the first half. After Montreal’s Donny Toia fouled Patrick Nyarko in the box, Lamar Neagle slotted home the penalty kick to give D.C. the lead over his former team heading into halftime.
Bill Hamid made multiple excellent saves to keep Montreal off the board in the second half, but the home side eventually drew level when defender Hassoun Camara scored in the 77th minute. Shortly thereafter, United center back Kofi Opare was shown a red card, but D.C. were able to weather the Impact’s late surge and leave Canada with a point.
"The backline did not have a lot of minutes together and in that situation, you will always need your goalkeeper," Olsen said. "Fortunately, we have a good one.”
Although the team have emphasized the need to turn draws into wins, the hard-fought nature of the result means United aren’t too disappointed with only getting a point in a difficult road environment. Olsen called on a number of different players with an eye on the congested fixture list, and those players did well in their starting roles.
"We worked as a unit," rookie midfielder Julian Büscher said, who made his first career MLS start. "We were tough to break down and worked together. We stayed compact. We wanted a point, and that’s what we got.”
The Black-and-Red were able to frustrate Montreal’s Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti for the second straight meeting, thanks to a big game from Bill Hamid and the tireless work of Rob Vincent in defensive midfield. Julian Büscher was impressive in his first professional start, making an exceptional sliding tackle to rob Piatti of a scoring opportunity. United will naturally be a bit upset not to get a win, but they can take many positives from the game, especially the performance of the different players and the ability to grind out a result.
United remain in playoff position and look to continue their unbeaten run when the Chicago Fire visit RFK Stadium on Saturday.