Chris Pontius scored three times to lead D.C. United to an emphatic 4-1 win over bitter rivals New York Red Bull tonight at soggy RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. With the win, United extended their unbeaten run to six games and vaulted past their northern neighbors and into second place in the Eastern Conference. Rookie Nick DeLeon scored his third goal of the season to round out the scoring for United before Thierry Henry’s beautiful free-kick goal wrapped up the scoring on the night.
United got started early in the 8th minute as Pontius surprised Henry on the ball and took it off him and headed for goal. Henry collapsed to the ground hoping for a foul call that never came. Pontius then unleashed a 22-yard bullet that whizzed by Red Bull goalkeeper Ryan Meara for the 1-0 lead. United had started the match very crisply despite the poor conditions that existed with a cold steady rain. United were linking passes all over the field that had Red Bull scrambling in frustration.
That frustration was doubled in the 32nd minute with a bit of skill and fortune for United. Maicon Santos got hold of the ball deep along the left sideline and managed to bull his way past three Red Bull defenders before squaring a ball through the goalmouth. The ball ended up deflecting off Red Bull defender Conner Lade and right into the path of Pontius who easily smashed the ball into the goal from about two feet away. Lade, making his starting debut for the shorthanded Red Bell defense, was also the victim on United’s third goal of the game just four minutes later. A bad clearance by Red Bull ping-ponged the ball into the penalty area. Lade seemed to have a bead on the ball but was easily muscled off the ball by Dwayne De Rosario who controlled it and then laid off a pass to the onrushing Nick DeLeon. The rookie from Louisville put the shot on goal only to have Red Bull defender Markus Holgersson deflect it past the helpless Meara for a 3-0 lead.
After the break, Red Bull made two substitutions straight away and started to apply desperate pressure on United. United’s defense lead by the return of Argentine defender Emiliano Dudar was up to the challenge and thwarted all attempts to bring Red Bull back into the match. Goalkeeper Joe Willis made back-to-back saves on long range efforts from Henry and Kenny Cooper to keep the Black-and-Red in total control. Chris Pontius then sealed the match in the 69th minute with his third goal on the night and fourth of the season through determination and skill. Pontius latched onto a loose ball about 30 yards from goal and managed to weave through the Red Bull defense before slipping the ball into the net and past the onrushing Meara for a 4-0 lead for United. “Chris still hasn’t learned to play forward yet”, said head coach Ben Olsen after the match. “I know it sounds strange after the game he had, but there are still some things that he needs to learn.”
Red Bull did manage a bit of consolation in the 72nd minute when Thierry Henry curled a 25-yard free kick over United’s defensive wall and just inside the near post for his league leading eighth goal of the season. United managed to easily play out the remaining twenty minutes and give United a big win against their bitter rivals.
Next up for United is the always difficult Houston Dynamo next Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. Again United will have another opportunity to finally end what is currently an 88-match streak of not winning back-to-back matches in league play.
- Andy Najar and Branko Boskovic were unused subs by Ben Olsen tonight
- It doesn’t look like Bill Hamid will be getting any starts anytime soon either as Ben Olsen said that Willis is the starter right now