Just in time DC United is looking more like a playoff team. In its regular season home finale before a crowd of over 20,000 at RFK Stadium, the Black and Red delivered another reassuring performance in a 4-0 win over the Chicago Fire to move into second place in the Eastern Conference.
For United it is its second straight win after suffering through a six-game winless skid that ended on October 2nd with the 2-1 win over New York City FC. United is one point ahead of the Columbus Crew and with Sunday’s win is assured of at least having one home playoff game.
“That’s important, and it’s important for a whole bunch of reasons”, said head coach Ben Olsen when asked about getting a home playoff game. “First and foremost our fans get to see us in a playoff game, here at this building. I’m looking forward to seeing RFK again on a playoff night. That’s always, always a special night.”
As expected the visiting Fire played free and loose and had their moments. From the beginning it was United that was the aggressor and the reward came from a Chris Pontius goal in the 39th minute. The game twisted in the balance until Bobby Boswell head home a Fabian Espindola corner kick in the 67th minute. Espindola and Alvaro Saborio then finished the scoring with goals in the 71st and 80th minutes.
“I think we’re headed in the right way. Again, I think it’s a day where things went our way, but I think the energy and the focus from the group, and the attitude that our group has right now, is a good one. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
- Chris Pontius is back. Injuries have been too much of factor in Pontius’ career. United looked on their way to the playoffs in 2011 until he suffered a broken leg late in the season. Pontius did bounce back with 12 goals in 2012, but since then has been slowed by nagging injuries from hamstrings to this summer’s calf injury that bothered him in June and July. Pontius built on the match against New York City, when he had three shots on goal, by helping set the tone against the Fire and scoring his third goal of the season and first since May 30. “He’s changed the way we can play right now, Olsen noted. “Again, I said it before, he’s playing very simple, he’s connecting passes and he’s moving without the ball. Sometimes when you do the simple things right, you get rewarded. He’s anticipating plays; defensively he’s putting in real shifts.”
- The right eleven. For the second straight game United went with the same starting lineup. Something that is unique in a season when United has had 29 different starting lineups. Once again Alvaro Saborio came on as a second half substitute and for the second straight game he scored. With Pontius and Nick De Leon playing well on the flanks, Chris Rolfe is being used as a forward. Rolfe makes a difference where ever he plays, but his best position is forward. For now the best option seems to be starting Rolfe and Espindola at forward and then having the luxury of Saborio as an attacking spark off the bench.