Congratulations to D.C. United, now it’s on to Los Angeles. United knows the reality of not getting too high or too low in a Major League Soccer season, but it can be excused for savoring Saturday’s 3-0 win over Sporting Kansas City before Wednesday’s road test against the Galaxy.
On the strength of first half goals from Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe, and Perry Kitchen, United is now one point ahead of Sporting for first place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand. To secure the full three points United had to withstand early pressure from Sporting and won despite only having 37 percent of the possession.
The loss for Kansas City came at the end of the week that included a long road trip for a 1-1 draw with Real Esteli in Nicaragua. Regardless of the circumstances, United’s victory was impressive in an intimidating environment where Sporting KC welcomed its 49th consecutive sellout. In a curious twist Sporting is only 5-2-6 at home.
Sporting head coach Peter Vermes:
“D.C. was good on threes counters, which our back four was absolutely horrendous on. It’s one of those days where they came down on three routine plays and they scored three goals because of the way we were organized at the back. There has been a lot of credit given to our back four over a long period of time, but the way that they performed tonight, they’re going to get the credit for giving up three goals. But this has nothing to do with playing against Real Estelí.”
- United continues to mature. An early lead on the road, three goals in the first 31 minutes, was a luxury for United, but not a guarantee of victory. With first place on the line United needed to maintain its defensive discipline and did so with a backline that now includes newcomers Steve Birnbaum and Taylor Kemp. United was tested with Sporting Kansas City offering up 29 crosses, but still had the advantage in shots on the home team 16-12.
- A good problem to have. Eddie Johnson is set to return from his two-game suspension and he will need to be a part of United’s equation going forward. Still after Saturday’s win and last week’s 4-2 victory over Colorado, there is an impressive connection between Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe and Luis Silva.
“They bring it 20 minutes at the start of the game better than most teams. We weathered it and then I thought the way we dealt with the game, even after we scored our first goal, was very mature. And then in the second half, they had a couple really good flurries and we held them off."