The late riot ended a mad night that began with a 30-minute blitz delay and spoiled the MLS debuts of United’s Taxi Fountas, the club’s highest-paid player, and 17-year-old midfielder Jackson Hopkins, who had signed from a professional contract days earlier . It also spoiled United’s best 45 minutes of the year.
Why Chris Durkin came home to DC United
Ola Kamara scored twice for United (2-4-0) but was red-carded seconds before half-time.
United’s Chris Odoi-Atsem replaced the injured Andy Najar and was eliminated moments later with an injury of his own.
A visitor only hit the crossbar from a distance of maybe two meters. There were nine yellow cards and eight minutes of stoppage time in the second half.
Kamara’s goals came in the 26th and 40th minutes but he received a yellow card for removing his jersey during a goal celebration and another card for an unwise tackle just before half-time.
“We made mistakes. I saw certain shots,” Losada said. “You can’t get a yellow card for taking off your jersey, especially for a player with that experience. He scored two very good goals … and then you took yourself out of the game with it.”
“The team always goes first,” added Losada. “Especially with me as a trainer, the collective must always come before the individual.”
Bill Hamid made several nice saves towards the end of the game, but Hoesen volleyed Diego Fagúndez’s corner kick. Driussi snagged a pass from Hector Jimenez in the six-yard box and Gabrielsen’s header from a Fagúndez cross deflected off Hamid’s right hand and went into the net.
“It’s a shame that [after] In that first half – which was our best half of football this year and felt like the times last year when we did our best – you end up losing,” said midfielder Russell Canouse. “It’s frustrating for us and I hate to let the fans down with results like this after such a good first half.”
Due to United’s injuries, Hopkins appeared to be in uniform but the starting line-up came as a surprise. He had been training with the first team since the fall and played in preseason games earlier this year and scored against Miami.
Hopkins, who had planned to attend the University of Virginia this fall, was among the five locals in the lineup, alongside Najar, Hamid, Donovan Pines and Chris Durkin.
Hopkins gained professional experience (as an amateur) for the last two seasons playing for DC’s second division side, Loudoun United.
He didn’t look out of place from the start on Saturday, taking on defenders, getting into the box and ripping an 18-yarder just wide.
United’s goal drought ended in the 26th minute. Just before the end line, Julian Gressel crossed to Najar at the back for a centering header which Kamara shot past Brad Stuver from 10 yards. He celebrated by removing his jersey to reveal a message he had written in his native Norwegian to his recently deceased grandmother.
The video review nullified Austin’s beautiful goal in the 32nd minute.
Eight minutes later, United extended their lead with a perfectly executed set piece.
Instead of serving a corner kick into the mix, Gressel passed it to Durkin, who returned the ball to Gressel for a low cross. From 14 yards, Kamara hit the right side of the net with speed and precision for his fourth goal of the year.
During a mad scramble, Austin’s Julio Cascante hit the bar from the doorstep.
Kamara’s terrific half-time ended in a tough duel that resulted in a second yellow card.
United lost Najar early in the second half to an apparent hamstring injury. Odoi-Atsem entered. Six minutes later, Odoi-Atsem left with a leg ailment. (He had been ruled questionable with a hamstring injury.)
Fountas, who received his work visa last week, stepped in at the 58th minute.
But the night was just beginning.
“Based on the game [performance], we won’t have any problems,” Losada said as he recovered from the result. “It’s tough based on the result but we need to recover.”
Here’s what else you should know about United’s loss:
Edison Flores and Michael Estrada – high-profile attackers who play for the Peru and Ecuador national teams respectively – started the game on the bench.
One of two draft players, Flores has failed to live up to expectations since arriving in 2020, going into the night without a goal or assist this season. He has two goals and eight assists in 34 appearances (26 starts).
Estrada scored twice in the opening game against Charlotte but missed the last two games for family reasons.
Losada switched Najar from right central defender to left winger to give him more of a role in attack. It worked. Pines started in the backline for the first time this year.
Left winger Brad Smith, who started the first five games, was held off as a precaution.
Within 10 minutes, DC United fell in despair at Audi Field on Saturday night. A two-goal lead dwindled to one, then none, and by the time the clock struck 90:00, Hernán Losada’s undermanned side were losing – an incomprehensible collapse that resulted in a 3-2 loss to Austin FC.