Pontius, Willis lead United effort in 4-0 win over Vancouver

Chris Pontius

Chris Pontius scored on either side of halftime to help D.C. United to a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at RFK Stadium tonight. Photo: Martin Fernandez

Chris Pontius (right) scored on either side of halftime and rookie goalkeeper Joe Willis marked his MLS debut with a shutout to go along with two highlight reel saves to help D.C. United to a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at RFK Stadium tonight. The win for United ended a frustrating seven match win less streak at RFK which saw United give up late leads and blow opportunities to gain points on the rest of the weak Eastern Conference. United’s last win at home was over three months ago when they defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-1.

United, without starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid and head coach Ben Olsen due to red cards received last week, made a bold move by inserting the rookie Willis into the starting lineup. Willis, a third-round draft pick from Denver  this past January, helped his teams cause with a brilliant save in the 40th minute on a free kick by Vancouver’s Brazilian striker Camilo. Willis dove to his right and tipped the ball off the crossbar. The ensuing mad scramble in front of goal saw a shot hit a United defender then a shot  hit Willis in the face before the rookie was able to recover and finally smother the ball to the elation of the 11, 738 fans in attendance.

With the Whitecaps reeling, United took advantage in stoppage time of the first half to take the lead. Dwayne De Rosario did well to fight off a triple-team of Vancouver defenders in the penalty area. De Rosario finally freed himself and sent a blistering ball across the goal mouth that Chris Pontius redirected into the goal with his upper leg for his sixth goal of the season and a 1-0 lead heading into the halftime break.

Just three minutes after the restart, United had doubled their lead thanks in part to some good fortune. Andy Najar was sent into the box by a nice defense-splitting pass from Santino Quaranta. The tricky Honduran winger took a shot from essentially the end line that caromed in off former United goalkeeper Jay Nolly for a 2-0 lead. This was United’s first two-goal lead at RFK since their 2-1 win in May over the Seattle Sounders.

Vancouver did well to pull themselves up from the mistake and nearly halved the deficit in the 66th minute when Eric Hassli got behind United’s defense. Hassli one-timed his sliding volley but his shot was smothered by Willis and sent out for a corner kick. That play essentially ended the night for the visitors as in the 70th minute Chris Pontius put the game to bed. A wild counter attack from United saw numerous passes connecting Charlie Davies, De Rosario, Pontius and Stephen King with King finally taking a shot that trickled off Nolly right into the path of Pontius who slammed the ball off the underside of the crossbar and into the net for his second goal of the game and his career-high 7th goal of the season.

Stephen King rounded out the scoring in the 81st minute when he easily beat Nolly to his left for the final goal in United’s comprehensive 4-0 win. United now has a tough Thursday-Sunday combination of road games starting with their contest in Chicago on Thursday. This match will be shown nationally on ESPN2 starting at 9pm EST.

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