Matt Besler's 54th-minute goal ensured that Sporting Kansas City would finish the season at the top of the Eastern Conference in MLS as D.C. United closed an up-and-down 2011 season with a 1-0 home loss in front of 15,965 at RFK Stadium Saturday night.
With the loss, D.C. United finished the season with a record of 9-13-12, good for 39 points, a marked improvement on 2010's 22-point haul.
However, the only goal of the match served as a reminder of United's defensive frailties, particularly from set pieces. A corner from the left wing was headed against the far post by Kei Kamara. The loose ball fell right to Austin da Luz, but he couldn't clear it, instead managing to knock it back to Besler. The defender then twisted himself square and managed to knock a left-footed shot past Marc Burch and Bill Hamid and into the net.
The goal more or less took the life out of United's attack as the game drifted into a stalemate. Before the goal, D.C. United had passed up two chances to take the lead, the first coming when Dwayne De Rosario slammed a free kick just wide shortly after the restart. Moments later, De Rosario tried a cheeky backheel of a da Luz square ball, but that one, too, rolled just wide.
United nearly equalized in the last action of the game as a cross from Santino Quaranta was headed back to the center of the field by Andy Najar, but late substitute Josh Wolff could only head against the crossbar.