Maicon Santos continues his hot start to the 2012 MLS season with a pair of goals to lead D.C. United to a wild 3-2 win last night over the Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium. The win finally puts to rest the 88-match streak of not winning back-t0-back games in league play that began in June of 2009. The win was the first over Houston in their past 6 meetings and their first since 2009 as well. Dwayne De Rosario also scored for United to keep the Black-and-Red on a seven-match unbeaten run.
United got on the board early in the 11th minute thanks in part to a big miscue from the Houston defense. Brandon McDonald launched a hopeful ball into the offensive third where Dynamo central defender Geoff Cameron badly mistimed his attempted headed clearance and Chris Pontius broke in on goal. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall came out to cut down the angle and Pontius easily skipped by him but had no angle to shoot on goal. Pontius steadied himself and curled in a cross that Santos headed into the empty net for the 1-0 lead.
The remainder of the half saw United with a few more dangerous chances at goal by Santos, Nick DeLeon and Pontius but nothing came of it for United. United defender Emiliano Dudar pulled up with a hamstring injury just as the first half was coming to a close and was subbed out for Marcelo Saragosa. That forced a back line shuffle that saw Robbie Russell move centrally and Perry Kitchen move over to right back for the remainder of the match.
Right out the gate the visiting Dynamo took advantage of Dudar’s absence by pressuring from the jump. Their pressure resulted in a goal in the 50th minute through typical Dynamo measures. Left-back Jermaine Taylor was locked in a dual with United midfielder Danny Cruz along the left side line heading towards United’s goal when Cruz went to the ground and released Taylor to whip in a cross that was volleyed by Will Bruin past Joe Willis for a 1-1 tie.
Up to that point in the match, Willis had hardly touched the ball. United reacted quickly though and regained the lead just three minutes later. Dwayne De Rosario was on United’s left flank and whipped a ball curling towards the far post. At first it seemed that it might have grazed off the head of either Houston defender Bobby Boswell or Chris Pontius before it hit the far post and redirected into the goal. De Rosario was finally credited with the goal when replays showed that it did seem to avoid both players.
Dudar’s absence was magnified in the 59th minute when once again Houston drew level. However, it was United at fault on two fronts for the game-tying goal. Perry Kitchen was lax in moving a ball up field as Houston’s Corey Ashe deflected the pass back towards United’s goal. Will Bruin pounced on the loose ball and shot it on goal where Joe Willis seemed to have it covered. However, the wet conditions on the night perhaps played a factor as it squeezed out of his hands and into the goal. Incredibly, this was the 5th goal that Will Bruin has scored against United in only three matches. Bruin has eight total career goals in just his second year in MLS.
Once again though United answered the call and retook the lead for good in the 70th minute. Daniel Woolard got hold of a ball all alone on the left flank and whipped in a cross that Santos headed just over the fingertips of Tally Hall and off the underside of the crossbar for the match winner. United nearly scored a fourth goal on a fantastic counter attack run by De Rosario. De Ro took hold of a well-defended corner kick deep in United territory and sprinted towards Houston’s goal. On the way he maneuvered in and out of defensive pressure and was bearing down on goal. He passed to his left to a wide-open Woolard who returned the pass to De Ro who in turn flicked the ball over the approaching defender to himself only to see his volley smothered by Hall at the last second. Had the goal been scored, it would have gone down in team and league annals as one of the best goals ever scored at RFK Stadium.
As it happened, United played out the final twenty minutes without giving up a dangerous opportunity for Houston to draw and the Black-and-Red were left celebrating back-t0-back wins for the first time in nearly three calendar years.
United must now turn their attention to a very difficult three-game road stretch which begins at red hot San Jose on Wednesday night. After that is a midday match up with bottom of MLS Toronto FC before ending the trip in Houston in two weeks to open their brand new stadium. United will not return to RFK until Wednesday, May 16th.