So that’s what it feels like to win a Major League Soccer match.
Chris Pontius’ eleventh-minute penalty kick conversion held up for the remainder of the match as D.C. United defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at RFK Stadium this evening. The victory snaps a winless streak that began on March 16th and continued for three-and-a-half months. Pontius did the easy part in converting the spot kick, but he led by example this evening by pushing the tempo and going at the Quakes in easily his most effective performance of the season.
United took the lead in the 11th minute thanks in part to a pair of fortunate bounces, the kind that just haven’t gone United’s way so far this season. A slick combination of passes along the left sideline saw Pontius emerge from the crowded area as he spotted captain John Thorrington at the top of the penalty area. Thorrington immediately one-touched his pass to a wide open Chris Korb flying into the area. Korb’s first touch was very rough ( unintentional first bounce of fortune) and put the San Jose defense on alert. Korb recovered just in time to push the ball past the defender before being hauled down. Referee Jair Marrufo initially waved play on but upon further consultation with referee’s assistant Eric Boria, Marrufo spun and pointed to the spot (second bounce).
Pontius easily sent Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch the wrong way to give United the lead for the second consecutive week. Unlike last week in their 2-1 loss to Toronto FC, United managed to keep the defensive miscues to minimum and managed out the remainder of the match under relatively heavy second-half pressure from the Quakes.
Bill Hamid was called upon to make a sensational reaction save on Shea Salinas’s bid in the 61st minute and then a much less threatening bid from Salinas again just three minutes later. Hamid seemed to have command of his box all night long as the Quakes were sending crosses into their pair of 6’4″ strikers in Alan Gordon and Adam Jahn. Gordon had the Quakes best opportunity to draw the match level in the 86th minute when his volleyed bid from six yards was struck too hard as it flew over the top of United’s goal. One could only wonder if regular striker Chris Wondolowski had been available, would he have converted such a chance.
As it happened, United garnered their much-needed second win of the season and now will turn their attention to their U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal match up this Wednesday evening at the SoccerPlex against the New England Revolution. Game time will be at 7:00 pm
United’s next league match will be at RFK Stadium next Saturday evening when they welcome in the Vancouver Whitecaps in their only meeting of the season.
- Dwayne De Rosario and Carlos Ruiz were on the 18-man roster but did not feature in the match as they were both limited in training this week due to slight injuries. Ben Olsen did mention that he had one eye on the Open Cup match up in regards to DeRo not featuring tonight. Olsen also intimated that the tempo of the match and the fact that United for once were in the lead and not chasing the match also factored into his decision.
- Ethan White came out of the match early in the first half with a head injury after a nasty collision with Alan Gordon (below). Olsen was furious with referee Jair Marrufo and his lack of attention to the head injury that White suffered. Conor Shanosky came on for White as he was the only central defender available as healthy Brandon McDonald didn’t even make the game-day roster.