United ends home drought with 4-0 win over Whitecaps

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 Photo by Jose L. Argueta/ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

WASHINGTON – It may have taken enduring three months of disappointment and waiting until the league's worst team came to town, but D.C. United finally treated its fans to another win at RFK Stadium.

And considering the show the club put on Saturday, the D.C. faithful could almost say it was worth the wait.

Chris Pontius notched two goals, Andy Najar and Stephen King found the score sheet as well, and rookie Joe Willis registered a shutout in his first start as United ended its winless drought at home with a 4-0 triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

"We've had a rough run of form at home, so it's good to give our fans something to cheer about," Pontius said. "And it's good for our team morale."

United improved to 7-6-9 with the win, moving to within one point of the final playoff slot. Vancouver, which is yet to win an away match, dropped to 3-12-9 with an erratic performance that will dim much of the optimism gained in a 4-2 win over Chicago last weekend.

"We spent a lot of time this week talking about the job we did against Chicago at home and how we did the little things," Vancouver interim coach Tom Soehn said. "I thought today we let ourselves down in that category."

Since picking up a 2-1 win over Seattle in early May, D.C. had gone 0-2-5 in Washington — a record made all the more bewildering by United's stellar 3-0-3 mark on the road during that stretch.

In the early going, United dictated possession for long stretches while flowing play through Pontius and Najar on the wings but created few quality opportunities. As the half wore on, Vancouver used some dynamic play from Camilo to take control and put United on its heels.

In first-half stoppage time, however, Pontius put D.C. ahead. Dwayne De Rosario split a double team on the edge of the penalty area, slipping past Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit to hit a far-post cross that the third-year midfielder poked home.

"That's the part of this game that we've been lacking this year — those defining moments to see out halves or to see out games," DeMerit said.

It was the first of two assists on the night for De Rosario, who continued his strong play after earning back-to-back MLS Player of the Week honors.

Three minutes after halftime, a goalkeeping gaffe complicated matters for Vancouver. Najar doubled the D.C. advantage with his third goal of 2011, pegging an angled shot that slipped through the legs of Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly, a former United backup.

The goal proved to be a pivotal moment in the match. Down two, Soehn swapped playmaker Davide Chiumiento in for DeMerit, throwing caution to the wind in search of a strike to get his side back in the game.

The move backfired. United immediately began creating chance after chance against an out-manned Vancouver back line. In the 70th minute, Pontius scored his seventh goal of the season by hammering King's deflected shot off the crossbar and in. King then wrapped up the scoring nine minutes from full time, slotting a low bid past Nolly.

"It feels like it has been a long time coming," said United assistant coach Chad Ashton, who filled in for the suspended Ben Olsen. "I think we have been knocking on the door for a performance like that for a while, and to put it all together is a good feeling."

Securing the clean sheet was Willis, who won a weeklong competition in training against veteran Steve Cronin to make his professional debut in place of the suspended Bill Hamid.

The rookie came up big late in the first half with the match still scoreless, parrying a Camilo free kick off the crossbar and eventually snaring a rebound attempt amid a scrum in front of goal. In the second half, he moved across his goal to confidently deny a one-time effort from Eric Hassli that would have pulled Vancouver within one.

"Most of the day, in the early part, I was pretty nervous," Willis said. "A lot of the older guys talked me through it and were very supportive. By the time I got through warmups, I was ready to go."

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21 Responses to United ends home drought with 4-0 win over Whitecaps

  1. A wise man once says:

    Typical second-half Whitecaps blowout…

  2. Naboo says:

    love the characters on this dc squad. dark horse team if they make the playoffs.

  3. RyanTheArkansasRazorback says:

    Stephen King? Poor kid, why not go by Steve?

  4. Don says:

    It was Misery for the Whitecaps.

  5. Jason B says:

    Was that Delores Claiborne out there or the Whitecaps defense? I couldn’t tell…

  6. JoeW says:

    This DeRo guy is quite a player…just the sort of talent that someone like TFC or RBNY could make use of.

  7. Curt says:

    At 2-0, the Demerit sub was a disaster. He shuffled the entire back line and the result was confusion. Vagenas’ rubbish performance didn’t help either.

  8. Ted says:

    solid reference

  9. fischy says:

    One thing that needs saying about that home winless streak — there were several near misses: defense blowing late leads and bad decisions by referees that stole results from DC. Also worth noting that DC is a vastly improved team since adding DeRo. They may be flirting with the last playoff spot right now, but the team could be a serious challenger when the postseason begins.

  10. fischy says:

    It should also be noted that the defense is much improved since McDonald was added, and even more so since Jakovic’s return to the lineup. This is a much better team than the one that struggled in the first half of the season.

  11. nick says:

    Absolutely agree. The additions of McDonald as a centerback and DeRo as an attacking mid/forward have been huge. In addition, Jakovic finally coming back from injury and having a decent centerback to pair with has just turned the defense around.

    The 2 questions for DC for making and having an impact in the playoffs will be what kind of play DC gets in goal and whether what really has been a disappointing forward trio of Davies, Wolff and Ngwenya (and yes CD has scored some goals but many were on PK and at the begining of the season; he has been in quite a slump of form for a while now).

  12. nick says:

    oops I posted to quickly, to add to the last sentence,

    – can come on form and contribute some goals. Also, the injury to the rookie forward Blake Brettschneider took a certain spark off the attack. He was having a very good season until his injury.

  13. Smacky the Frog says:

    What’s up DC fans!

    As a Philly fan, the one team I’m not interested in facing in the playoffs is DC. DAMN those boys look good. I live in NoVa and was at the game last night, second row section 102 in the Union cap. If DeRo didn’t hit the post it could have been 5-0 easily.

    DeRo is everything DC needed in one sweet Canadian package. That you got him for Dax McCarty (who initially I thought would do well with Ben’s Boys) was a borderline masterstroke. And no, I don’t think I’m exaggerating. They can hang with anyone now. Hell, even Charlie Divies looked menacing!

    Congrats on last night’s butt-whipping.

  14. freddino says:

    The missing ingredient to an excellent entree….the missing price to the puzzle….the final stroke to a work of art….one of the most influencial players currently in MLS – Mr Dwayne De Rosario. This dude MAKES things happen…..Damn, too bad he’s canadian

  15. Enos says:

    Charlie Davies got another yellow card for diving last night. This time, he had his shirt pulled for several seconds. The ref and the linesman were both out of position to make the call. It was obvious to the fans at the game though. How will the league react this time?

  16. Bryan says:

    Davies reputation precedes him. Charlie is going to have to work hard to convince the league and MLS fans he isn’t a diver. It is a shame too, because his season started strong, took that odd turn, and now he is struggling to get back on track. Towards the end of last nights game, I got the sense he was finally getting comfortable on the field and with a strong play maker like De Rosario.

    The bright side of Davies injury / slump is that it has created some space for Chris Pontius to step up. As the season goes on, it is increasingly clear that Pontius is growing into his position on the wing and is becoming the type of hard working and creative player that makes DC, the MLS, and hopefully someday the USMNT look good.

    Vamos.

  17. MOCker says:

    Didn’t get to see the whole game but from the highlights looks like DC are starting to click on the offensive end…now that their backline is getting healthy hope they can keep it together and get back into the playoffs

  18. Mason says:

    Apparently the card was for “Dissent” according to the match report.

    Just another adventure in MLS officiating.

  19. Naboo says:

    the match was a lot closer than the scoreline indicates….had the united debutant keeper not kept out the free kick at the end of the first half it might have been a different game. But united took most of their chances well. I t felt so good after the game, bc some many times this season dcu has play well but come up short! really fells like it’s coming together for them. these guys play for each other and de. ro. has been playing with his head in the clouds like moreno and marco used to do….

  20. Naboo says:

    Davies could have scored a brace last nite. put himself in positions for easy tap ins, but never recieved the ball. I was hoping the team would let him get one for his confidence, but last nites game showed me that his so-called slump is about to be over..