If it wasn’t already apparent, it became so Wednesday: Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola are carrying D.C. United’s offense this season.
Each of them had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win against the Houston Dynamo — a win which meant United eclipsed last season’s point total in less than a third of the games.
Each goal showcased the best of what the pair have brought to United this season. Espindola picked out Rolfe with a no-look pass in the first half, and the former Fire midfielder cut past a defender before finishing low.
On United’s second goal, Rolfe hit Espindola with an outrageous over-the-shoulder outlet pass which traveled 50 yards up the pitch before the Argentine beat a defender and drove a shot into the far corner.
“[Rolfe] and Fabi worked pretty well together,” United coach Ben Olsen said after the match. “Rolfe has a great ability to fill in the holes and play with guys with different attributes.”
Acquired in an early-season trade, Rolfe has become one of the team’s key offensive pieces. In just eight games with United, Rolfe has scored three goals and assisted another three.
Espindola, meanwhile, has been an even more pleasant surprise. The 29-year-old has always been a reliable MLS goal-scorer, and this year he’s also just two assists shy of equaling his single-season career high. With five goals and five assists, he’s factored into 10 of the team’s 16 goals this season.
Rolfe and Espindola have been even more important with Eddie Johnson and Nick DeLeon combining for just one goal and four assists on the season, and star midfielder Chris Pontius out long-term with injury.
Johnson was suspended for the Houston match, but his World Cup snub, combined with his first goal of the season in the previous match against Montreal, should give Olsen reason to believe his offense will be firing on all cylinders before too long.
Until then, though, United will continue to ride the form of an unlikely pair who have the team just two points out of first place in the Eastern Conference.