Style points are nice, but they don’t count in Major League Soccer’s standings. D.C. United snared an early goal and they had the resolve to shut out the New York Red Bulls and earn a 1-0 win Saturday at R.F.K. Stadium.
It is another sign of progress in season where United now has consecutive wins for the first time since 2012. United is far from complete, but the influx of veterans like goal scorer Davy Arnaud has given the Black and Red a stronger foundation to work from. A month into the season United is in fourth place with seven points from five matches.
“You are not going to find any team that goes out week-in week-out and puts on an unbelievable performance and just walks over teams. That is not going to happen. It is a cliché, but good teams do find ways to win games. Tonight wasn’t our best performance, that won’t be our best performance at home all year, that’s for sure. You know, we didn’t play as well as we did last week, but at the end of the day, we walk out of here with three points.”
- United can develop and get points at the same time. Transitions with a team that has so many new players can be a painful process, but United has demonstrated an ability to adjust and get results. Consider that Chris Rolfe has barely been with United for two weeks and he has been thrust in to the role of left-side midfielder because of the injury to Luis Silva that pushed Arnaud into the center of midfield. But Rolfe is a veteran and the shift in positions didn’t faze him. Rolfe’s dynamic attacking qualities were still on display on a night when United struggled to get possession.
- The goals will come for Eddie Johnson. The start of the season is just that, a start. Just like the New York Red Bulls, who have yet to win a game, are not going to go winless, Johnson is going to breakthrough for United and score. Johnson had three shots, placed one on target, and showed his ability to get into dangerous positions even if the connection didn’t happen.
- There is depth and defense. With Bill Hamid still nursing an injured toe, Andrew Dykstra recorded his second shutout in as many weeks. The same four across the backline—Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Jeff Parke, Christian Fernandez—have started all five of United’s matches. While they faced pressure from a pressing Red Bulls side, the relationships and understanding in the defensive third is there.
Final thought from Ben Olsen:
“It doesn’t matter what league you're in in the world, if you're good on set pieces you can steal points. Sometimes it’s the difference in getting to the playoffs. We had several focuses in the offseason, and one of them was to get better on set pieces. It's not just guys putting their heads in tough spots, it's also service, and I thought Fabian’s (Espindola) service was great.”