Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CLIFF STARKEY
WASHINGTON — D.C. United have put together a solid stretch of games over the last few weeks, but lacked a comprehensive performance to show the league that they can win with style.
On the strength of Fabian Espindola’s two goals and an assist, Saturday night’s 4-1 win over visiting FC Dallas may have been just that performance.
D.C. United team captain Bobby Boswell sees his team full of confidence as they ride a five-game unbeaten streak.
“I really feel like we can absolutely dominate teams from the beginning whistle until the ending whistle,” Boswell said after the game. “It’s gonna work, because of the guys we have here. You’re starting to see some of that.”
After FC Dallas, up 1-0, saw Zach Loyd sent off in the 39th minute for his second yellow, D.C. United came storming back in the heavy rain, scoring four unanswered goals—including three goals in an impressive ten minutes in the second half, to finish with a comprehensive 4-1 victory.
D.C United coach Ben Olsen, like many observers, saw Loyd’s red card as the catalyst for a dominating performance.
“I didn’t think there were many poor performances after we go up a man, but that happens a lot. But it’s not easy to break teams down when they sit back,” Olsen said.
FC Dallas opened scoring in the 14th minute, when Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez, and Mauro Diaz worked a set of quick passes back and forth to get Diaz through on goal. Perez’s layoff pass was superb, redirecting Castillo’s pass with a jumping heel. Diaz’s shoulder fake freed himself for the one-on-one opportunity.
D.C. United continued to push forward, but once again, failed to deliver the ball needed to break FC Dallas’s defense.
Opportunity arose for D.C. United in the 39th minute, when referee Fotis Bazakos showed Loyd a second yellow for a studs-up challenge.
D.C. United knew that playing up a man would mean that they’d have even more opportunities as the game progressed. D.C. United found their equalizer at the death of the first half, when Eddie Johnson’s superb cross from the right wing was headed home by Espindola.
FC Dallas had a difficult task ahead of them, and looked content to slow the game down in the second half, hoping to preserve the draw. FC Dallas Goalkeeper Chris Seitz received a yellow card in the 48th minute for time wasting.
FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja knew what D.C. United’s offense was capable of, especially having a man advantage. He stressed the importance of staying unified in defense during his halftime talk.
“We wanted to control the width of the field. We knew that they were going to get some numbers up, and it worked for a set time,” Pareja told SBI.com after the game. “It’s a gamble in that moment. You are playing tactically, and they are sending numbers up. What you hope is that the guys can have some composure defensively, and that didn’t work.”
FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz said that his team was not just trying to see out the final 45 minutes.
“We still had confidence,” Seitz told SBI.com after the match. “We had a good group of guys out there. We were obviously going to put defense first, and then try to get one or two chance to win the game. That was our mindset going into [the second half]. We weren’t playing for the tie.”
After FC Dallas’s defensive tactics frustrated D.C. United for fifteen minutes, D.C. United would find their go-ahead goal in the 60th minute, courtesy of team captain Bobby Boswell. As United continued to push forward, Jeff Parke redirected a cross to Conor Doyle. Doyle’s shot was blocked by Seitz, but the ball found its way to Boswell, who drove it home from 15 yards out. A great bit of play, and a fantastic drilled shot by Boswell.
Boswell liked his team’s output, but stressed the desire of D.C. United to score more goals while playing on equal terms with opponents.
“You need guys to disrupt the other team. We’ve got great service. I think I should have more goals than I do, to be honest,” Boswell said after the game. “We’ve got guys that make hard runs, [Espindola] hits a great ball, [Nick DeLeon] can hit a great ball, and we have a couple guys that really set us up well so we get good looks on goal.”
Like the clouds above RFK stadium, D.C. United continued to flood FC Dallas’s box with cross after cross. Espindola and Sean Franklin would push D.C. United to score two more goals in the next five minutes, courtesy of play down the left wing.
Espindola worked his way past a FC Dallas defender, and his short cross went directly to Sean Franklin, who casually tucked it home in the 65th minute.
As a defender, Franklin does not get many goal scoring chances, but gave full credit to Espindola for his opportunity to score.
“I was able to get forward. Fabian did a great job beating his guy, and put the ball in a great spot. That was a great ball,” Franklin said.
In the 69th minute, Chris Rolfe sprinted down the left, and delivered an inch-perfect pass along the ground to Espindola, who delivered a striker’s finish, slotting the ball past a beleaguered Chris Seitz.
Frustration reared its head in the 89th minute, as Michel was shown FC Dallas’s second red card of the night. After a sliding tackle, Michel elbowed D.C. United’s Chris Rolfe, and didn’t need to see the red before walking off the pitch.
The win is D.C. United’s third of the season, and extends their unbeaten streak to five games. FC Dallas’s loss is just their second of the season.
Next week, D.C. United travel to the Northwest to play the Portland Timbers on Saturday. FC Dallas return home to host the New York Red Bulls next Sunday.
Watch highlights of the match below: