D.C. United is for real. Not that there should have been a question about the seriousness of the Black and Red’s positive start, but a 1-0 win over defending champion Sporting Kansas City quieted any lingering doubts and put the club into second place in the Eastern Conference.
United’s win before 18,522 at R.F.K. Stadium, its largest home crowd of the season, was not perfect. It was not a repeat of United’s dominating win over Houston in its last appearance on East Captiol Street. In fact it wasn’t very pretty, but United showed the maturity and determination to see its way to a one-goal win.
Sporting Kansas City was depleted. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are with the U.S. Men’s National Team and Ike Opara and Chance Meyers were sidelined by injuries. Still Kansas City challenged. Trying to stop a four-game winless slide Sporting stayed with its high pressure approach, but United defended and limited quality chances.
“I thought they were very good. I give them a lot of credit in having their identity even with some of the injuries that they have developed. It’s something really good over there in Kansas City. And, if you are not 100 percent against them and your not committed when you press, they’ll break you down. The way we’d line up against them, dealing with their three in the midfield with our two forwards, it was a tough task and they had a lot of the ball. They were dynamic, but I also think if we caught them a couple times on the break more it could have been two or three easily.”
- Voting for Major League Soccer’s All-Star game has started and Fabian Esopindola should be included. Oh yes his offense is worth talking about. Espindola now has seven goals and five assists, but his work rate also needs to be celebrated. United’s defense starts with Espindola’s tenacity. Head coach Ben Olsen called Espindola “a warrior” and noted that United forward was still recovering from the flu. As for the goal…. In the 28th minute Espindola chipped a ball from 30 yards out with his left foot from the right flank and it sailed over Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, who had come off his line, and dipped under the crossbar for the game’s only goal. “I saw that [Fabian] Espindola had the ball out wide to my left, and out of the corner of my eye sight I saw [Eddie] Johnson coming across to the base of the goal,” Kronberg explained. “So, I took a step forward expecting him to cross it to him and Espindola saw it and happened to chip it over my head. I don’t know if he was intending to do it, if he was great play by him and great vision by him, but you know, unlucky. I probably should have stayed on the line and let my defense handle that, but I will definitely learn from this one and move on.” This is another example of how Eddie Johnson’s presence makes a difference. Johnson does need to find his own scoring touch.
- Bill Hamid is also playing at an All-Star level. United now has five shutouts in its last ten games. Backup goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra earned two of those clean sheets, so credit most also be given to a steady backline led by Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell in the middle. Hamid has been a rock. He makes the saves that are expected and has been ready to provide the spectacular. Hamid even saves what he might not see. In the 77th minute Kansas City’s Soony Saad unleashed shot from out the box that took a sharp deflection, but Hamid was still able to dive in time and escort it to safety.