It’s been a very difficult week for Branko Boskovic. After being pulled in the 57th minute a week ago against the New England Revolution, the midfielder made known his feelings in the press about his lack of playing time and the perceived lack of faith that D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen has in his player. Just four days after that 2-1 win over the Revolution, Boskovic was pulled again in the 57th minute of a then scoreless draw with Philadelphia.
Fast forward to this evening and Boskovic came in as a sub in the 57th minute but this time he let his play do the talking instead of his mouth in leading United to a vastly important 1-0 win over Chivas USA. The win for United (15-10-5, 50 pts) pulled them into a tie with New York Red Bull for third place in the Eastern Conference and extended their lead over Houston (46 pts) and Columbus (45 pts) who both lost this weekend. With only four matches to play, United is in a very solid position to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Both teams came out with a defensive approach to the match but it was United who bossed the first 45 minutes. United had a few guilt-edged chances beginning with Nick DeLeon’s rasping drive from 25 yards in the 13th minute and then a nice save from Kennedy on Maicon Santos in the 20th minute. United threatened once more from DeLeon in the 38th minute but his 30-yard drive was saved comfortably by Kennedy. On the other end of the pitch United had little trouble dealing with MLS’ lowest scoring team (21 goals in 29 matches) with only a weak shot from Nick Labrocca being the only threat in the initial forty-five minutes.
After the break United continued to control the tempo. Although the game-ending stats would show Chivas USA with a 58-42% advantage in possession, their possession was aimless and mostly negative.
All that changed just seven minutes after Boskovic made his appearance into the match. Lionard Pajoy did well to juke and jive Chivas USA defender Jorge Villafana deep along the right sideline. Pajoy broke free just long enough to send a low driven cross into the penalty area where Boskovic dove and neatly headed the ball into the opposite side netting to send RFK Stadium into rapture. The goal was the first for Boskovic in league play through his four seasons with the Black-and-Red and arguably couldn’t have come at a better time.
United managed to see out the remaining thirty five minutes of the match without any real threat from the visitors and extend their club record unbeaten streak to 15 games. United has also clinched their first winning record since the 2007 season.
United has four matches remaining, three of them on the road. “That’s been our Achilles Heel,” head coach Ben Olsen commented after the match in regards to his teams road performances this season, “But we got that monkey off our back in Philadelphia and look forward to this two-game stretch (at Portland and at Toronto FC).”
United will play in Portland next Saturday night before heading up to Canada to play Toronto FC the following weekend. United will be off the week of the October 13th for the World Cup qualifying break and then will host Columbus at RFK Stadium in United’s last home match of the season on October 20th. By that time, all will be revealed and United will know exactly what they need to either qualify or move up the table in the chase for higher playoff seeding.