WASHINGTON — In a game between two sides on losing runs in Major League Soccer, D.C. United looked very impressive as they defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-2 Sunday night at RFK Stadium in a game that showcased some superb attacking soccer.
Luis Silva scored a goal in each half, while the returning Fabian Espindola and Chris Rolfe would also notch for the Black-and-Red. Even more heartening was the play of left-back Taylor Kemp, who tallied two assists for his first-ever MLS points. For the Rapids, a thunderous strike by Dillon Serna and a late consolation from Deshorn Brown would not be enough to avert a crushing defeat, their fourth in a row.
“The second half, we didn’t start real well and they came out and, give them credit, [Serna] took his goal very well,” United head coach Ben Olsen told reporters after the game. “I thought our response was fantastic, it was one of the better responses I’ve seen out of our team this year. We took it to another gear and basically I think from that point on took the game over and got plenty of chances and played some really good stuff.”
After a first 10 minutes that saw both teams start with great intensity, the first goal arrived for the home side in the 12th minute. Kemp, in at left back in place of the injured Chris Korb, played a superb ball through to Silva, who jinked around Drew Moor in the penalty area before chipping the ball over Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
It meant that for the fourth straight game, Colorado had conceded in the first 15 minutes of a game, and things got even worse as Moor was forced off with a knee problem right after Silva’s goal. That added to the visitors’ worries about depth in the center of defense, with midfielder Jared Watts the one to step in and fill the troublesome position.
The Rapids tried to respond and create chances of their own, but too often looked disjointed and unable to connect with the final pass. That also owed much to the defensive efforts of United captain Bobby Boswell, who stayed very close to Brown and ensured that no balls could find their way through to him.
United continued to defend well as the first half reached its conclusion, although in the 38th minute they had a minor scare as Serna got free on the left and slid a low ball in to Brown. However, his shot went well over the bar under pressure once again from Boswell.
At the very end of the first half came the best Rapids chance of the game so far, as a low cross from Brown was missed by the defense and slid through to Vicente Sanchez at the back post. However, the midfielder’s shot was excellently blocked away for a corner by Bill Hamid, who scrambled across his goal well to maintain the shutout.
That ensured the hosts would go into the halftime break up 1-0, yet they conceded the majority of possession during the first period and gave up more shots.
However, the first chance would fall to the Rapids in the opening minutes, as Brown got between the central defenders but headed a cross well over the bar on the counter. Just moments later, Colorado got their reward as Hamid’s clearance was headed into the path of Serna, who hit a brilliant dipping half-volley from way outside the box that sailed into the net to equalize for the visitors.
It was a superb finish, and it seemed to spark United back to life as just minutes later, Silva was played through by Nick DeLeon but saw his chipped finish hit the side-netting when the whole stadium thought it was in the back of the net. Then, Espindola wriggled away from the attentions of his marker before unleashing a chipped shot that cannoned into the crossbar from just inside the penalty area.
The pressure told in the 67th minute as Perry Kitchen combined well with Sean Franklin, then the right-back played a lovely ball through to Silva, who was played onside by Klute. As in the first half, the midfielder would chip a finish over Irwin and into the back of the net to give United the lead once again with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Just 10 minutes later, Kemp would come rampaging forward from left-back once again as he left Klute for dead on the wing. The defender would then play a low ball right into Rolfe’s path, and the former Chicago man would make no mistake with a sliding finish to make the score 3-1.
The Rapids pushed forward as they searched for a way back into the game and left themselves horribly exposed at the back. This lack of defensive cover would be punished ruthlessly by Espindola, who was played in brilliantly by substitute David Estrada and finished well past Irwin.
It was a just reward for the returning forward, who went the full 90 minutes despite having very little game time prior to tonight’s match. Olsen was full of praise for his forward, especially given his recent injury problems.
“It’s unbelievable to have him [Espindola] back,” Olsen said. “He’s just relentless. I always say with Fabi, I’m glad he’s on our team. Playing that No. 9 role for him, he’s not always the biggest and strongest, but he is an absolute handful and he just wills himself to succeed. It was a pretty impressive performance. I don’t know how he went 90 minutes after such a long break, but overall it was a great night for him.”
On the stroke of the 90 minute mark, Colorado would pull another back as Brown headed home a good cross from Dillon Powers, but that would only be a consolation as D.C. United wrapped up a 4-2 win.
DCU — Luis Silva (Taylor Kemp) 12’
COL — Dillon Serna (Jared Watts) 52’
DCU — Luis Silva (Sean Franklin, Perry Kitchen) 67’
DCU — Chris Rolfe (Taylor Kemp) 81’
DCU — Fabian Espindola (David Estrada) 86’
COL — Nick LaBrocca (caution, foul, 3’)
COL — Chris Klute (caution, foul, 43’)
DCU — Davy Arnaud (caution, foul, 68’)
DCU — Perry Kitchen (caution, foul, 72’)
D.C. United XI: Hamid; Kemp, Birnbaum, Boswell, Franklin; Rolfe (Estrada 84’), Kitchen, Arnaud, DeLeon (Caskey 87’); Silva (Neal 73’), Espindola.
Subs not used: Willis, Opare, Jeffrey, Porter.
Colorado Rapids XI: Irwin; Klute, Wynne, Moor (Watts 14’), Burch; Sanchez (Alvarez 59’), Jose Mari, LaBrocca, Serna (Torres 74’); Powers, Brown.
Subs not used: Buddle, Hairston, Nasco, Neeskens.