United in first place for first time in two years

United in first place for first time in two years
June 12, 2014, 8:15 am
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We didn’t see this coming. On the road for its final game before the World Cup break, D.C. United might have been content with a tie or a grind it out 1-0 result. Instead United is in first place for the first time in two years after a 4-2 victory over Montreal.

Nagging injuries from Saturday’s draw with Columbus forced goalkeeper Bill Hamid and forward Eddie Johnson to the sideline. Luis Silva replaced Johnson in the first eleven and responded with three goals in the first half to go with Nick De Leon’s tally in the opening 45 minutes.

Ben Olsen:

“I thought we were very aggressive in the first half and they came very aggressive as well, which we saw in the number of goals that got in. Second half became a bit more cagey, Dykstra came up with a big save for us on the penalty kick but overall we were very pleased with how the team has been playing for the first part of the season. Now it`s time to exhale and get back to work.”

Conclusions:

  1. There is real competition for playing time.  Luis Silva was injured in the third game of the season. While Silva was on the sideline United surged leaving Silva without a spot.  Against Columbus Silva started when Perry Kitchen served his suspension for yellow card accumulation. On Wednesday with Kitchen back in the lineup and partnered again in the midfield with Davy Arnaud, Silva played higher and seized his opportunity. Silva’s three-goal performance speaks to the team’s culture. Playing time is precious now and is earned and is not doled out because of necessity. Since his arrival from Toronto last summer we have seen flashes of Silva’s potential. He has good vision and as his second goal from 30-yards out demonstrated can be a threat with a strike from distance.
  2.  Silva made history. With three goals in the first half, Silva became the sixth player in United history to score three goals in one half. Silva joins a list that includes Raul Diaz Arce, Roy Lassiter, Jamie Moreno, Abdul Thompson Conteh and Dwayne De Rosario.
  3.  Chris Rolfe quietly made a difference.  Rolfe did not have a goal or an assist against Montreal, but seemed to be busy every minute of the 89 he played before Alex Caskey replaced him. The first goal of the game started with quality possession from Rolfe that then allowed Fabian Espindola to play a through ball to Silva for the first of his three assists.  Beyond his offensive work, Rolfe’s aggressive approach helped prevent the Impact from developing any kind of offensive rhythm.  It is said a team takes on the identity of its coach. Rolfe is another example of a player approaching the game like Ben Olsen did with a tireless work ethic and skill to match.