Aussie forward Danny Allsopp, who has been roundly denounced as a disappointment, came up with the game winner in the 45th mnute to tie Andy Najar for the team lead, but more importantly all of his goals have led to United wins. It was Najar who set up the goal as he collected a cross-field switch from Quaranta and beat Colorado left back Danny Earls easily to crack a shot near post. Pickens was able to block the shot but it fell right to Allsopp inside the six yard box and he calmly lifted the ball over the prone Pickens for the game winner just before halftime.
It wasn’t perhaps the beautiful game, but it was a very respectable and effective effort by DC United as they dominated a previously red hot Rapids side to grab the early lead and very deservedly hung on for their sixth victory of the season. Far too many times, DC has played very well and deserved leads in games, only to be punished for not finishing and giving up late goals to lose. But, this time United held on brilliantly similar to their win in Toronto a few weeks ago.
In fact, United could easily have had a much larger lead in the first half as they peppered the Colorado goal relentlessly for the majority of the first 45 minutes, but Pickens was rock solid in the Colorado nets to keep DC out most of the night. Allsopp had a glorious chance seconds before his goal when he intercepted a woeful back pass from Brian Mullan and broke in alone on goal, but Pickens pulled off a sick sprawl to take the ball right off his foot as Allsopp attempted to round him.
Hernandez and Morsink also had lovely chances 30 seconds apart in the 24th minute to grab the lead earlier in the first half, but Pickens had the answer for them as well. Quaranta set up the first one with a lovely cross to Hernandez deep in the box. Palguta tried to cut it out, but it fell to Hernandez for a cheeky chip shot that nearly blooped into the net, but Pickens recovered to flail it over the bar. Then on the ensuing cornerkick, the ball eventually fell to Morsink and he cracked a wicked shot from a tight angle that forced Pickens horizontal to knock it away.
Colorado had a lone chance in the first half as Moor collected a pinballed corner kick and swiveled to crack a shot on goal, but it was right at Morsink on the post and he cleared easily.
The second half was far less entertaining as Colorado made changes to get back into the game bringing on Cummings and Smith to get back into the game, but DC countered with a more defensive lineup bringing off Allsopp for their new Swiss winger Varela. So, the match turned into a midfield slog and neither side really generated anything seriously dangerous until the 87th minute when the Rapids nearly crushed DC’s dreams.
As all DC fans watched with fatalistic horror expecting the seemingly inevitable late game collapse, Colorado’s third sub, Claudio Lopez curled a perfect corner kick Casey at the near post a mere three minutes from time. Colorado’s burly forward flicks on to Moor at the back post, but despite beating Zayner to the ball, Moor could not keep the ball on frame and flashed his shot wide after a desperate lunge at the ball keeping United fans from lurching off ledges all around the city.
Perhaps it’s fitting that United managed a win in Colorado for the first time since 2000, coincidentally the last time United’s proud franchise racked up 18 losses on the season as well. Interestingly, Colorado beat DC earlier this year in RFK and it was their first win here since 1999, so turnabout is fair play as both teams break their long futility streaks at each other’s house.
DC United return to action next weekend in RFK when they host the SJ Earthquakes Saturday night at 7:30. With three games left in the season, DC only needs a to avoid losing one match to assure themselves of avoiding the MLS record for most losses in a season.