Eight is more than great. DC United has a very real tradition of excellence, with a jammed trophy case to prove it, but by securing three points in Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium the Black and Red is off to the best start after eight games in club history.
Now with 17 points after eight matches, United is still in first place in the Eastern Conference along with the New England Revolution. United has played one fewer game that the Revs and has the highest points per game average in MLS at 2.13. The impressive collection of points by United has been achieved despite adversity and injury.
United’s leading scorer in 2014 Fabian Espindola missed the first six games of the season because of suspension related to an incident in the playoffs last year. Luis Silva who combined so well with Espindola in 2014 started the season dealing with hamstring injury. Off season signing Markus Halsti has yet to play because of injury and center back Steve Birnbaum is recovering from an ankle injury.
Through it all United has persevered and is now undefeated in six matches.
- Multiple options. For the second straight game Chris Rolfe partnered with striker Fabian Espindola as a forward. In reality Rolfe was more like an advanced midfielder. Regardless like it did in Vancouver, the combination clicked against the Crew. Rolfe assisted on Espindola’s first goal of the season. Rolfe has now had a goal or an assist in four straight games. As impressive as the Rolfe/Espindola partnership is, head coach Ben Olsen also has Luis Silva as an option off the bench. Silva replaced Rolfe in the second half and he and Espindiola provided some electrifying moments. There is a true chemistry and understanding between Silva and Espindola, but the same can now be said of Rolfe with Espindola. It’s a nice problem to have—finding playing time for everyone.
- Rock solid defense. Saturday’s performance against the Crew was a performance by United that reflected the team’s first place standing. United seized their chances and on defense shut down the Crew who entered the match as the highest scoring team in MLS. The Crew did not record a shot on goal until the 50th minute. Kei Kamara, with five goals on the season, barely had a quality touch. Bobby Boswell and Kofi Opare provided the steel at the back, but it was a collective defensive effort.