The challenges keep coming and D.C. United keeps passing the tests. On the road in San Jose United seized control and then used a team defensive effort to secure a 2-1 win over the Earthquakes and valuable space on top of the congested Eastern Conference.
With only three wins last season doubts about D.C. United’s strength are understandable. Out of the World Cup break United was dealt a blow with the loss of leading scorer Fabian Espindola to a knee injury. The response has been impressive with positive play in a 1-0 loss to Seattle and now consecutive wins for the only second time this season.
In discussion with head coach Ben Olsen he stressed a need to get on an extended run of success to firmly establish United as a leader in the Eastern Conference. For all its success in 2014 United had not won consecutive games since April, but now sees a real opportunity to build with a home game ahead on July 20 against Chivas USA.
- There is life on offense without Fabian Espindola. Specifically Luis Silva needed to get more involved. Before the World Cup against Montreal Silva started with Espindola still healthy and scored three goals in a 4-2 win. In matches against Seattle and Toronto with Espindola on the sideline, Silva started below Eddie Johnson and was given a free role to create. He struggled. Against San Jose Silva was active and from the activity he scored the goal to put United up 2-0 after 25 minutes. Chris Rolfe continued to make a case for most valuable offensive player not named Espindola with another busy night on the left flank. Eddie Johnson scored. It was not in the run of play, but Johnson scored on a penalty kick after a Brandon Barklage hand ball in the 12th minute. Of more importance Johnson for the third straight game was menacing on offense and led United with four shots. The Earthquakes are in last place in the Western Conference, but defense has not been their problem. For United to force the issue and get two goals on the road for the second straight week is significant.
- Tough to beat an organized defense that has Bill Hamid in goal. With Chris Wondolowski back from World Cup duty, the Earthquakes were hoping for a spark to wake up their slumbering offense. The Earthquakes had their chances and outshot United 18-9 including nine shots on target. United’s defense didn’t break. Bill Hamid is crafting the best season of his MLS career and made nine saves against the Earthquakes.
“When they (Earthquakes) have Lenhart, Gordon, Wondolowski and Goodson, there’s always going to be a battle. Those guys are always so hard to deal with. They had their chances, but there was always someone in the way preventing them from getting the second goal. That was the key to our second half performance: we were there for each other to bail each other out.”