DC United emphatically ended their MLS slump and got some sweet revenge with a rousing 4-1 win over RSL last night at RFK stadium. Jaime Moreno scored penalty kicks just before and just after halftime, then United put the game away with two stunning volleys from Santino Quaranta and Marcelo Gallardo late in the match.
The first half was a back and forth affair as RSL came out pretty lively, but DC absorbed their pressure well, however after Fred had to come out injured, Coach Tommy Soehn made another shrewd substitution before the half which unlocked the game for United.
Fred was injured in the opening minutes on a cynical tackle by former United player Carey Talley and had to come out by the 23rd minute to be replaced by Marc Burch on the left side. Soehn had this to say afterward about Fred's condition. “It’s a contusion. Having been through it, it’s something that hurts and it’ll take a few days to get through, but we don’t see anything long term.”
The switch paid dividends immediately as DC responded with the opening goal on a fortuitous penalty kick called in the 30th minute. Marc Burch had got free down the left side and swung in a cross that struck Dema Kovalenko's arm as he was sliding in late to block it. A fortunate call for sure, but Jaime Moreno scored the spot kick with a cheeky chip past former teammate Nick Rimando.
That kick might be a good omen as the last time Moreno chipped a penalty kick was last year at RFK in their first win of the season over Chivas. That goal last year was the beginning of a seven game unbeaten streak after that woeful 0-3-1 start to last season.
However despite the goal, United was still not aggresive enough in the attack, so Soehn brought in Rod Dyachenko for rookie midfielder Dan Stratford who had made his first MLS match. The switch pushed United more into the attack and DC was able to put the game away in the second half.
Coach Soehn had this to say about Stratford and the switch after the game. “He’s done a great job in training. It’s always hard for a young kid coming in for the first time especially when the team’s really pushing to get a win. I told him when we took him out to keep his head up, he’s been doing everything great in training and that’s what gets him on the field, and he has to continue to do that. We thought Rod [Dyachenko] would come in and make the soccer better, which we needed, because we weren’t holding the ball enough, and we weren’t getting Jamie [Moreno] and Marcelo [Gallardo] involved in the play enough. It was something we needed to do and I think Rod did a pretty decent job.”
In the 51st minute, Moreno slipped a ball in to Emilio in the box and he was chopped down for an obvious penalty kick and once again Moreno had a penalty kick against a goalkeeper that has probably seen about a thousand penalties taken by him when they were team mates. But Moreno was icily efficient and scored his MLS record extending 115th goal. Having set up Rimando with the curve ball on the first one, this time he slammed a heater into the side netting with Nicky rooted to the ground to score the game winning goal.
Poor Nicky could only shake his head ruefully and wax philosophic after the match. "He makes a living off PKs. I think he’s made 203 career goals off PK’s. No, especially at home I’d say one hundred percent. I just want to guess the right way and at least get a touch. But what are you going to do."
United extended their lead in the 67th minute, when Dyachenko made a great deep run, laid the ball off to Moreno cutting back, who looked up and spotted Quaranta bursting on goal on the far side of the field. He looped a perfect pass into Quaranta's stride, and Tino struck a lovely volley past the helpless Rimando to make it 3-0.
Ten minutes later, United was unfortunate when a well played corner kick fell into the path of Carey Talley, who bundled it into the net to spoil the shutout. No mistakes made by DC, just a good play by RSL.
But Marcelo Gallardo was not going to allow that to be the last memory of this game as he struck a thunderous volley three minutes later to cap off a glorious win. In the 80th minute, Burch got deep down the left and looped a cross to Gallardo deep down the right side. As the ball skimmed over defender Nat Borchers, El Muneco never lost concentration and whipped a stunning volley over Rimando and into the far side of the net for the final 4-1 scoreline.
Soehn was pleased with the play of his designated player after the match. “We talked all week about getting involved in the attack a little bit more and pushing himself a little bit higher, and to his credit he listened, and I thought he got involved a little bit more – he got involved in the attack a little bit more and he scored a goal.”
United is now 2-3 on the season and travels to Colorado to play the Rapids next Sunday at 3 PM.