Jairo Arrieta played the role of hero on his D.C. United debut as the Black and Red opened their 2015 Major League Soccer season and campaign to retain the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact Impact at RFK Stadium on Saturday (highlights above).
[ READ: PST’s 2015 team-by-team MLS previews ]
Arrieta, the Costa Rican forward acquired during the offseason, broke the deadlock in the 58th minute, following nearly an hour of back-and-forth play which saw a number of chances fall to either side, but the final bit of off-season rust still showing through as shots and crosses, otherwise converted, went begging.
Chris Rolfe chipped a through ball down the left channel for Arrieta, who beat defender Bakary Soumare to the corner of the 18-yard-box. Arrieta’s first touch was an outside-of-the-foot poke which evaded the onrushing Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush and rolled slowly into an empty net.
Rolfe had the best chance of the first half, a mazy dribble into the penalty area that created a yard of space and angle for the 32-year-old midfielder to shoot. Rolfe elected to try to chip Bush, when the better option may have been a low, powerful shot to the far post
Bill Hamid came up huge for United when he stone-walled Justin Mapp on a breakaway chance in the 82nd minute. Mapp beat Chris Korb down the right side of attack, got to the corner of the six-yard box and tried to lift the ball over Hamid, but the 24-year-old Homegrown ‘keeper pushed the shot wide.
Mapp was seriously injured on the play, as he tumbled to the ground, landing on his left arm and appearing to injure either his elbow or forearm.
Saturday’s victory runs United’s home unbeaten streak to eight league games (June 28 vs. Seattle Sounders). Both sides have are off next week before returning to league play the following weekend. Montreal hosts Costa Rican side Alajualense in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals on Wednesday, March 18.
D.C. United: Hamid, Korb, Boswell, Birnbaum, Franklin, Rolfe (Aguilar 77′), Kitchen, Arnaud, DeLeon, Arrieta (Farfan 90′), Pontius (Doyle 66′)
Goals: Arrieta (58′)
Montreal Impact: Bush, Toia, Ciman, Soumare, Camara, Mallace, Reo-Coker, Duka, Piatti (Alexander 76′), Mapp (Oduro 87′), McInerney (Porter 71′)