Photo by USA Today Sports
By MITCHELL NORTHAM
WASHINGTON - D.C. United headed into Sunday night’s match against the Colorado Rapids riding a two-game losing slide, while also facing the added difficulty of playing without suspended forward Eddie Johnson.
The game between the slumping sides would turn out to be a chippy track meet, but in front of 12,814 fans, D.C. United got back on track with a 4-2 victory at RFK Stadium.
“It was extremely important to win this game,” D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good spot and if we take care of winning at home then we’ll be in good shape.”
Colorado native and second year D.C. United defender Taylor Kemp made his second start of the season, filling in for the injured Chris Korb. In the 12th minute, he received a pass in the midfield and played a smooth through ball with the outside of his foot to forward Luis Silva who was streaking towards the goal.
With the ball in the penalty box, Silva drew Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin off of his line while dancing around defender Drew Moor. Silva then put the ball over the top of and past Irwin for D.C. United’s first goal of the game.
In the early stages of the second half, the Rapids would strike gold as Dillon Serna got a hold of a headed pass from Jared Watts. Serna passed on taking a touch and one-timed the volley from about 30 yards out into the goal, sailing past Hamid in the 52nd minute.
“For me it was just a 50-50 ball and I was going in hard for the challenge to win the header,” Watts said. “Luckily, it got behind their defense and (Serna) got us back in the game.”
Silva’s second goal came in the 67th minute when midfielder Perry Kitchen was dis-possessed in the box and the ball landed at the feet of teammate Sean Franklin. The defender acted quickly and flipped up the ball to Silva, who put his shot past Irwin to give D.C. United the 2-1 lead.
Chris Rolfe put the final nail in the Rapids’ coffin in the 81st minute, scoring a goal from the center of the box thanks to Kemp’s second assist of the night. Fabian Espindola, making his first start since June, added one for good measure when he finished an assist from D.C. United’s newest addition, David Estrada, in the 86th minute.
The Rapids scored one more in the 91st minute when Deshorn Brown headed in a cross from Dillon Powers, but it would prove to be little more than a consolation in a D.C. United victory.
The two assists for Kemp went down in the stat book as the second-year defender’s first career MLS points. Captain Bobby Boswell was impressed with Kemp’s play on offense but still sees room for improvement from the young defender.
“I yelled at him a lot actually,” Boswell said. “Offensively he had a good night, defensively he was pretty good but I think there are some things we can still work on as a unit.”
D.C. United sits comfortably in second place in the standings of MLS’ Eastern Conference with 40 points, trailing Sporting Kansas City, their opponent on Saturday, by just two points.
“We’re going to go on the road now and try to pick up some points,” Olsen said. “It’s not going to be easy; there’s a lot of traveling and we’re playing some tough opponents.”