Eddie Johnson and Luis Silva scored first-half goals and Bill Hamid made several brilliant saves Friday night as D.C. United defeated the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, to strengthen its hold atop MLS’s Eastern Conference.

With a third consecutive away victory, United (9-5-4) moved five points ahead of Sporting Kansas City and pulled within four of Seattle in the Supporters’ Shield race. Sporting and the Sounders have played one fewer match than DCU.

Johnson converted a penalty kick in the 11th minute for his second goal of the year and Silva recorded his fourth goal over four matches in the 25th by redirecting Chris Rolfe‘s cross. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, in his first league match since returning from World Cup duty, scored on a deflected shot late in the first half.

“For the first 25 minutes we were brilliant; I thought we played really well,” United midfielder Lewis Neal said. “We knocked the ball around, got the two goals and kept control of the match. After that, Wondo gets the goal and that gave San Jose a little momentum. In the second half, we had to defend for our lives at times, but overall, there were a lot of people putting their bodies on the line.”

Hamid’s seven saves included a reflex gem on Alan Gordon in stoppage time.

“He’s been very good all year long,” said United boss Ben Olsen, among the top candidates for MLS coach of the year honors. “It’s always fun to watch these guys grow over the years. Bill is one of those guys on and off the field who has continually grown in front of our eyes. He’s a homegrown guy who we are very proud of. 

United, MLS’s worst team last year, will host Chivas USA next Sunday night (July 20) at RFK Stadium.

DCU LINEUP: Hamid; Franklin, Boswell, Birnbaum, Korb; DeLeon, Kitchen, Arnaud, Rolfe; Silva (Neal 75th), Johnson (Doyle 87th).

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