D.C. United top Chivas USA for third straight victory

Eddie Johnson

By CLIFF STARKEY

WASHINGTON—When MLS announced the schedule before the season started, there couldn’t have been many people circling a seemingly innocuous late July match between D.C. United and Chivas USA as a must-see game.

But due to blistering recent form by both teams, Sunday night’s game at RFK Stadium could be seen by many MLS fans as a marquee match.

A man-of-the-match performance by Eddie Johnson helped D.C. United to a 3-1 victory over Chivas USA. Johnson converted a penalty in the first half and set up a Perry Kitchen goal in the second. The win helps D.C. United stay within touching distance of Sporting Kansas City for top spot in the East.

After the game, D.C. United coach Ben Olsen was quick to praise his team.

“I thought we exploited Chivas in a lot of different areas,” Olsen said. “(Luis) Silva was good, (Chris) Rolfe was trouble for them, and (Chris) Korb gave them trouble.”

But Olsen saved his top praise for Johnson.

“(Johnson) was fantastic today,” Olsen said. “He’s as good as it gets—as well rounded a forward as you see in this league. It’s nice to see him touch the net a little bit, and hopefully this just keeps on getting better.”

Johnson hopes so, as well. He credits, among other things, the end of the World Cup as his inspiration for his recent form.

“It’s been frustrating,” Johnson said. “We all have individual goals, and clearly one of mine was to go to the World Cup. Then you go five games without scoring, and you put a lot more pressure on yourself. Once that World Cup thing was behind me, I could clearly focus on being here, and my teammates, and really try to create something special.”

While Chivas USA had their chances down the right side early on, neither team caused much danger for their opponents until Chris Rolfe was brought down in the corner of the box in the 24th minute. Rolfe had cut in from the left side, and was looking for any kind of an opening when Oswaldo Minda’s clumsy challenge brought him down. The home fans immediately voiced their opinion, and Referee Fotis Bazakos agreed, made no hesitation, and pointed to the spot.

Johnson scored from the spot easily, beating Dan Kennedy to his right. The goal was Johnson’s second successful penalty in two straight games.

After that, halftime couldn’t come soon enough for Kennedy and Chivas USA, who could have been down 3-0, had it not been for two D.C. United shots off the crossbar.

Chivas USA wouldn’t be as lucky in the second half.

In the 59th minute, Eddie Johnson directed a free kick down into the path of Perry Kitchen, whose slot from just inside the box was Kitchen’s second of the season, and D.C. United’s second of the game.

Ten minutes later, Chris Korb released Luis Silva down the left side of the box and into a one-on-one with Kennedy. Silva curled the ball easily into the net for the 3-0 lead.

A late penalty conversion by Erick Torres, scoring a goal in his fifth consecutive game, was little reassurance to Chivas USA, who spent most of the game looking like the team that had been on the bottom of the Western Conference until a recent resurgence.

Chivas USA Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera also noted the difference in play by his team.

“We didn’t look sharp,” Cabrera said after the game. “We could be a little bit tired. We’re carrying a heavy load, due to a lot of games. It could be that that affected us.”

Chivas USA Captain Carlos Bocanegra was disappointed in the result, but knows that his team has the capacity to play well.

“It was a tough game for us,” Bocanegra said after the match. “I don’t think we played well, in general. But we’ll be fine. We won four in a row—unbeaten in five. It had to end at some point. We’ll leave this one behind us, and look forward.”

Coming into the game, Chivas USA had been riding a four-game winning streak, which tied the club record.

Cabrera hopes that some rest will get his team back on track.

“We have to rest,” Cabrera said. “When you’re rested, you’re able to think well and perform well. We know we have to deal with it—no excuses—but let’s try to rest, and give a little fresh momentum to the team.”

D.C. United now has a three-game winning streak, and has taken all points in four of their last five games. They play Fulham FC on Saturday, and Olsen hopes that the game does not prove a distraction from the league.

“We still have a bunch of games coming up. This is a game to get guys up to speed. Our minds are more on Toronto the following Wednesday.”

Here are the match highlights:

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23 Responses to D.C. United top Chivas USA for third straight victory

  1. Dan g says:

    Fulham do not play in the premier league. They play in the football league championship.

    • Matt C says:

      And? Was there a misprint/typo in the article’s original form?

      • Cliff says:

        I initially had them listed as a Prem team. I guess I’m still in denial about the demise of Fulhamerica…

  2. Kevin says:

    EJ has been so frustrating. He’s lackadaisical to his team’s detriment for 70 minutes out of 90, but only needs a moment to prove his worth.. unfortunately, he hasn’t done so until the past 2 weeks. Somehow, DCU is still on top of the East.

    Also, hate to come down on the officials – Mark Geiger has been a revelation as a MLS based official – but the officiating tonight was horrid. Didn’t feel that the call against Chivas for DC’s penalty was a fair decision, and also thought that Cubo’s run-up was laughable. Should have been called back.

    • Kevin says:

      edit: as an* MLS official

    • DCUPedro says:

      We don’t award penalties for fouls inside the 18 anymore?

      Of course it was the right call. The stupidity of commuting a foul on a harmless run through the edge of the 18 does not make it not a foul in the 18.

      Every foul in the 18 is a penalty. Every one. Why do people not understand this?

      • Kevin says:

        Suppose I should have been more explicit. It was not a foul. Rolfe pushed the ball too far forward, and folded on contact realizing he took a poor touch. Minda deserves criticism for the challenge, and good on Rolfe for forcing the official into a decision, but Rolfe made a meal of it.

        Point is, horrible night officiating for Bazakos

        • Jake says:

          I would say the same but even worse on the other PK. Minda’s was so blantant and the ball was so far from him that I could see it called or not. The one on Birnbaum seemed like a makeup call. Minimal contact and Rosales (I think) went down.

        • DCUPedro says:

          Why is it Rolfes responsibility to avoid a stupid tackle?

      • Grunt says:

        .,,because every foul in the 18 is not a penalty.

        There are several offences a defending player may commit inside the penalty area that are punished by an indirect kick from spot of the foul (or closest point outside the goal box).

        • Mason says:

          IFKs for “minor” (or if you’re old “non-penal”) fouls are taken from the closest point on the goal area line that is parallel to the goal line. Technically, that’s inside the goal area. Defenders may stand between the posts on the goal line, even though they are closer than 10 yards.

        • DCUPedro says:

          We are clearly talking about penal fouls here. Don’t be pedantic.

      • Oy says:

        “Every foul in the 18 is a penalty. Every one.”
        hahahaha! nope.
        read the laws of the game.

        • Dustin says:

          Everyone penal foul, such as pushes, kicks, and trips.

        • DCUPedro says:

          Don’t be ridiculous. This is clearly a discussion about penal fouls. The point is, you don’t evaluate how dangerous the opportunity is or how vicious the foul is when you are calling a foul in the 18. A (penal) foul (on a player with the ball) is a penalty. Period.

    • Jonathon says:

      Torres’ run-up was perfectly legal. The only stipulation in the laws is that you can’t stop / feint at the end of the run-up. Stutter steps are legal; backing up like Torres did is legal; feinting a shot to get the keeper to move then shooting the other direction is illegal.

      • curmudgeon says:

        Yeah, I can’t figure out why folks can’t figure this out. You can do whatever the hell you want in the run-up; you just can’t feint in any way once you get to the ball. This is clearly spelled out in the Interpretations document that accompanies the Laws of the Game from FIFA.

      • Rich D says:

        How do you run forward then backwards without stopping?

        • chris says:

          Something called a spin

          • Jake says:

            Although, that’s not what he did in this case. Nor is it really relevant since it only matters what you do near the ball according to the rules.
            Rules should be changed though for PKs.

  3. MiamiAl says:

    DC United is a contender. When they get Espindola back, watch out!!!

  4. espy says:

    I know it was “just” Chivas…but does anybody else think that DCU could actually get to the finals this year?

    • Northzax says:

      Time will tell. Seven of the next ten are on the road. And home field is huge in the playoffs (well, unless you’re NY) still, I think the team leaned on ESPINdola too much earlier, him going down (if he returns to form) gave Silva and Nicky the urge they needed. August bring road games at Houston (down year but always tough at home) RSL, a short rest (due to CCL) Sporting and the Gals. That’s five games in 14 days, involving travel from dc to kc to dc to la. September involves travel to ny, Vancouver, Jamaica and panama. We’ll see.