Maicon Santos had two goals and an assist in D.C. United’s first win of the season, a 4-1 win over visiting FC Dallas last night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Rookie Nick De Leon pitched in a goal and an assist with Danny Cruz rounding out the goalscoring in United’s impressive offensive display.
United’s offense had been a question mark heading into this the fourth match of the season with only one goal from their previous three matches to start the season. I think it’s safe to say that United and their new acquisitions from the off season came out in a big way in the match that was nationally televised on new league partner the NBC Sports Network. However, it could have been a complete disaster for the home side if not for the heroics of United goalkeeper Joe Willis in the first ten minutes of the match.
United’s defense was playing “too aggressively”, according to head coach Ben Olsen in the first few minutes that saw FC Dallas get behind United’s back line twice, only to see Willis make stunning one-v-one saves to keep the match at 0-0. Dwayne De Rosario nearly gave United the lead in the 13th minute when his volley hit off the crossbar from 30 yards out. De Rosario and Willis would play a crucial role in giving the Black-and-Red the lead in the 28th minute. De Rosario won Willis’ goal kick and spotted Maicon Santos. The Brazilian fought off FC Dallas midfield pressure just long enough to get two touches towards goal before unleashing a left-footed 30-yard rocket that handcuffed FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, leaving him no chance to make the save.
FC Dallas would equalize in the 41st minute on a bizarre mistake by United’s defense. Willis hurriedly cleared a ball under pressure from FC Dallas forward Blas Perez. The ball caromed off the shoulder of Daniel Hernandez and was heading straight at United defender Emiliano Dudar. Dudar’s casual mis-trap kept the previously offside Perez in play and the Panamanian striker walked in on goal and slotted the ball past Willis to draw the match level at 1-1.
After the break it was all D.C. United as they unleashed a barrage of chances upon the FC Dallas goal. One flurry in the 58th minute saw Nick De Leon’s shot saved by Hartman but the rebound fell right into the path of United forward Hamdi Salihi. The Albanian was poised to rifle the ball into the empty net only to see his plant foot slip out from under him just as he was shooting. The weak effort was cleared for a corner. On the ensuing corner kick, De Leon was once again stoned by Hartman as his 18-yard blast was parried off the crossbar and out of danger.
However, just a minute later United got the go-ahead goal thanks to some beautiful passing from United. Fullback Robbie Russell pushed up the right flank and spotted Santos in the middle of the field. Santos took one touch and curled a left-footed cross into the path of De Leon on the weak side of the penalty area. De Leon allowed the ball to bounce before settling it off his chest and then hammering a left-footed volley over Hartman and into the roof of the net.
The rookie from Louisville would play a crucial role in United’s third goal in the 66th minute. De Leon and De Rosario both applied heavy pressure on FC Dallas fullback Zach Loyd along the left touchline. De Leon stripped him of the ball and headed towards goal. Danny Cruz was making a weak side run through the penalty area and De Leon spotted him and slotted a perfect pass to Cruz who sent it past Hartman for the 3-1 lead. Mercifully United ended the scoring in the 73rd minute with Santos’ second goal of the night. De Rosario sent a perfectly bending ball around FC Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu to the noggin of Santos and he easily headed to the far post for the final goal in United’s emphatic 4-1 win.
United now will face another tough Western Conference foe when they welcome the Seattle Sounders to RFK Stadium next Saturday evening at 7:30 pm. United will have an opportunity to win back-t0-back league matches for the first time since the middle of the 2009 season, a streak that has reached 84 matches.
- Goalkeeper Bill Hamid will be out 1-3 weeks after injuring his ankle during the US’ failed bid to qualify for the London Olympic Games this Summer.
- Santos and Cruz scored their debut goals for United tonight
- Hamdi Salihi was the tough luck player on the night for United with slipping on one chance and not converting on a breakaway in the second half. “I’m thrilled with the job he is doing right now. He does so many things off the ball that most people don’t notice. To see him work as hard as he works off the ball is impressive”, said Ben Olsen after the match when asked to assess Salihi’s performance