It's the 4th of July weekend in Washington D.C., but Ben Olsen could be forgiven for thinking that Groundhog Day has been moved to early summer on the calendar. For the second straight week, the D.C. United boss watched his team throw away two one-goal leads and settle for a 2-2 draw against an Eastern Conference rival. This time, it was the Philadelphia Union who worked a bit of black magic, as Carlos Ruiz's 84th-minute goal gave the Eastern Conference leaders a 2-2 draw and a point at RFK Stadium Saturday night.
As happened last weekend against Houston, D.C. United's defense appeared short of energy and stamina as the Guatemalan striker slipped into United's penalty area and turned home a right-wing cross from Sheanon Williams to deny the home side two very precious points in the tight Eastern Conference standings.
The result was a waste of Andy Najar's 35-yard strike in the 58th minute that gave United a 2-1 lead. The second-year player from Honduras picked up a loose ball on the midfield line and strode into Philadelphia territory. With no defenders around, Najar decided to try a right-footed shot, which swerved past the despairing dive of Faryd Mondragon and into the lower right-hand corner of the net.
Najar's drive put United back into the lead nine minutes after the home side had let their 1-0 halftime lead slip thanks to a calamitous own goal by rookie defender Perry Kitchen. It wasn't all Kitchen's responsibility, however, as Chris Pontius started the ill-fated sequence by gifting the ball straight to Veljko Paunovic at the right edge of United's penalty area, and it was the Macedonian's cross that was redirected into Bill Hamid's own net by Kitchen's right boot.
Philadelphia almost equalized straight after Najar's goal, but Hamid made a brilliant reaction save to deny a point-blank header by Ruiz in the 60th minute.