WASHINGTON—The Colorado Rapids finally killed off one of the longest-running streaks in MLS on Saturday night, ending their 11-year winless drought at RFK Stadium with a confident 1-0 victory over D.C. United.
Mehdi Ballouchy’s 67th minute solo effort broke a 263-minute goalless streak for the Mile High Club and paved the way for a win that pushes cellar-dwelling United into even deeper misery.
The visitors started well, controlling possession early on and nearly taking a lead in the first minute when Conor Casey just missed out on Omar Cummings’ cross from the right wing.
All eyes were on Casey to see how the big targetman would perform after missing out on a U.S. World Cup roster slot on Tuesday. But 28 minutes in, he missed a far more inviting chance to add his name to the score sheet when he slipped away from Juan Manuel Pena and met Mehdi Ballouchy’s pinpoint cross deep in the D.C. box, only to screw his header well wide with goalkeeper Bill Hamid at his mercy.
The cagey match briefly burst into life in the moments afterward, as Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens had to race out and punch away Christian Castillo’s cross before Danny Allsopp arrived. Seconds later a counterattack gave United’s Australian striker space to make a surging solo run into the box, but Pickens held his ground and blocked Allsopp’s angled shot comfortably.
Colorado sat deeper and conceded more of the ball as the match unfolded but United continued to lack a cutting edge in the final third of the field, and as in so many of their previous matches, they were duly punished as the Rapids seized the lead in contentious circumstances in the 67th minute.
Referee Jorge Gonzalez had taken a laissez-faire approach in his governance of the match, but even by those standards, there was widespread shock at his decision to wave play-on after Wells Thompson slid though Rodney Wallace’s ankle near the halfway line, allowing Ballouchy to lope clear down the right channel.
But the Moroccan nonetheless displayed impressive skill to advance on Pena, buy time with a quick stepover and cut inside before drilling a low left-footer just inside the near post, catching Hamid flat-footed as his view was obscured by Pena’s attempted block.
The Rapids went extremely close to doubling their advantage on several occasions as United’s collective spirit sagged dramatically after Ballouchy’s strike. Colin Clark clanged a long-range blast off the post moments after entering the match and Ballouchy saw his bending, dipping free kick smack the upper corner of the woodwork and bounce away.
D.C. coach Curt Onalfo threw on Jaime Moreno and Andy Najar and switched to a three-man defense in the late going, but his team still struggled to carve out clear opportunities, and Gonzalez’s full-time whistle brought down the curtain on another disappointing evening at RFK.
Prior to today, the last time Colorado defeated DC on the road was on July 10, 1999. This was the Rapids third road win in five games this season, surpassing the team's total road wins in all of 2009.
COL -- Mehdi Ballouchy 2 (unassisted) 67
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Marvell Wynne, Julien Baudet, Drew Moor, Danny Earls, Mehdi Ballouchy, Pablo Mastroeni, Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 89), Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson (Colin Clark 68), Conor Casey (Ross LaBauex 89).
Subs not used: Ian Joyce, Claudio Lopez, Andre Akpan, Michael Holody
D.C. United -- Bill Hamid, Jordan Graye, Carey Talley, Juan Manuel Pena (Jaime Moreno 72), Rodney Wallace, Thabiso Khumalo (Brandon Barklage 46), Kurt Morsink (Andy Najar 80), Clyde Simms, Christian Castillo, Adam Cristman, Danny Allsopp.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez; Referee's Assistants: Steven Taylor; Eric Proctor; 4th Official: Jasen Anno
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-78-degrees