For United's Offense, the Hour Has Come
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Explain this: D.C. United doesn't score for more than three games and then pumps in six goals in 58 minutes bridging two matches against the top clubs in the Eastern Conference.
MLS's mystery team continued its midseason resurgence last night, striking for two goals in the first 12 minutes to hand the New England Revolution its first loss, 2-0 before 17,611 at RFK Stadium.
Santino Quaranta's header and Jaime Moreno's clever run lifted United (5-4-4) to its second victory in four days and extended its unbeaten streak to four. The Revolution (7-1-4) had needed a win or tie to equal the best start in league history, shared by Los Angeles (1996) and Kansas City (2000).
"Sometimes the goal is big, sometimes the goal is small," midfielder Ben Olsen said. "We're just going through a stretch here where it's a little bigger of a goal for us. It's nice to be finishing plays off and, saying that, we could've done even better than we did."
The defending champions put together an exquisite first half, with Quaranta and Moreno scoring about two minutes apart, and then survived a choppy second half in which it played the final eight minutes shorthanded after Alecko Eskandarian departed with a concussion.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando made 10 saves, including three gems after halftime, to thwart the highest-scoring team in MLS and record his fifth shutout of the year.
"We started with great intensity," Coach Peter Nowak said. "You could see the ball was moving pretty well and we created a lot of chances. It was supposed to be three-, four-nothing going into halftime. You can see sometimes their brain didn't work the way they wanted, but the heart was there and the effort was great."
Typical of games between these teams at RFK, this match got off to a cracking start. Nowak resisted the temptation to start both Quaranta and Eskandarian with Moreno -- an arrangement that produced three second-half goals against Chicago on Wednesday -- and retained two defensive midfielders.
But United didn't sit back, mesmerizing the Revolution with crisp one-touch passing. The first goal, however, came at the end of a dead ball sequence. Christian Gomez, a two-goal scorer Wednesday and the hub of the attack last night, swung a 30-yard free kick from near the right sideline deep into the box. Goalkeeper Matt Reis came off his line to punch it away, but missed. Waiting at the other end was Quaranta, who nodded a six-yard shot into the top of the net for his second goal of the year.
Two minutes later, it was Moreno's turn. From the left sideline, Quaranta slipped the ball to the Bolivian forward, who proceeded to break away from one defender and split two others, Michael Parkhurst and Clint Dempsey, while cutting to his right. He slotted a 10-yard shot to the far corner for his sixth goal of the season.
"We're clicking now," Quaranta said. "We're definitely more confident going forward. Everything's working better."
Moreno should've put the match out of reach but faltered badly on a pair of clear runs at Reis. On the first, set up by Gomez, Reis used his foot to deny Moreno's low bid. A few minutes later, cutting in from the left, Moreno tried the low route again -- and once again was stopped.
Gomez, slowed by a sore knee, left early in the second half as United's attack faded. Meantime, Rimando was tested for the first time in the 58th minute, leaping to tip reserve Andy Dorman's 17-yarder over the crossbar. Revolution reserve Connally Edozien struck the crossbar with a header in the 72nd minute and Rimando turned in a pair of sparkling saves on Steve Ralston seven minutes later.
Eskandarian suffered his third concussion in three years when he took a knee to the head in a collision with Reis. He will be re-evaluated this week. Having exhausted his substitutes, Nowak turned to Rimando, reserve David Stokes, rookie Bobby Boswell and Brandon Prideaux to secure United's first victory over the Revolution in three tries this year.
"We showed in the first half what we are capable of doing," Rimando said. "This could be the turning point."