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Taxi Fountas notches a hat trick as D.C. United finds a much-needed win

D.C. United 5, Orlando City 3

D.C. United's Taxi Fountas, pictured during a match in April, scored three times Monday night at Orlando City. (Tony Quinn for The Washington Post)
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ORLANDO — A hat trick by Taxi Fountas helped D.C. United snap a six-match winless skid with a 5-3 victory over Orlando City on Monday night at Exploria Stadium.

Two Fountas goals during a three-minute span early in the match gave United a boost toward its first win since May 7, but they weren’t all D.C. needed. After woeful defending plagued United’s back line over the past few weeks, Orlando City found itself on that end of the spectrum Monday before making a game of it in the second half.

“It’s nice to see they’ve trained really hard the past couple of weeks,” United interim coach Chad Ashton said. “It’s nice to see them get rewarded, and hopefully that builds a little confidence moving forward. You saw a lot of things that we worked on, essentially this week, things that we felt like we could do well within the game, and we executed our game plan really well the first half. … I feel like we just needed to get a result to get us moving in the right direction, and hopefully you’ll see a little bit more of that moving forward.”

In the fifth minute, a turnover by Orlando’s Kyle Smith led to Drew Skundrich connecting with Chris Durkin, who crossed the ball to Fountas. He sent the ball to the bottom-left corner, beating goalkeeper Pedro Gallese for the opening goal.

Fountas scored his second in the eighth minute on a similar play. Another Orlando turnover led to Michael Estrada beating Smith on the flank, and he moved the ball to Fountas for a tap-in from in close.

The Greek designated player, in his first season with United (5-9-2), notched his third goal in the 51st minute after an indirect free kick; Julian Gressel tapped the ball for the forward to strike through Orlando’s wall and past Gallese.

D.C.’s lackluster defending surfaced in the match’s latter stages. Facundo Torres sparked an Orlando rally when his long-distance strike cruised toward the bottom-right corner and beat Rafael Romo in the 57th minute. Torres connected with Ercan Kara for the home team’s second in the 66th.

Kimarni Smith’s goal in the 74th, off another defensive lapse by Orlando City (7-7-4), gave D.C. some breathing room. But a penalty after a handball in the box by Brendan Hines-Ike paved the way for Alexandre Pato to get Orlando City within 4-3 in the 80th.

D.C. capped the scoring in stoppage time after another Orlando turnover; Nigel Robertha capitalized on that miscue.

“I thought the team was super elated,” Smith said. “I feel like we were waiting for a game like this to change the tone of the season for us and change everyone’s opinion about how we play and how we’re seen in the league. This is definitely a good confidence boost for all of us.”

D.C. entered Monday on a three-match losing streak. Its previous victory was a 2-0 win over Houston at Audi Field, and Fountas had both goals in that one.

This was the first time D.C. United scored more than three goals this season. The team will try to stay pointed in the right direction Friday night at the Philadelphia Union.

Here’s what else to know about D.C. United’s win:

USWNT’s win at Concacaf W Championship is more concerning than convincing

Hamid out again

Goalkeeper Bill Hamid missed a third consecutive game. The 31-year-old had been sidelined by an undisclosed illness, then was ruled out ahead of Monday’s game with a hand injury.

Yow departs

Homegrown midfielder Griffin Yow’s transfer to Belgian club KVC Westerlo was completed when he signed a four-year contract, United announced. The Clifton native is the second D.C. homegrown player sold abroad this year; South Riding native Kevin Paredes joined German Bundesliga club Wolfsburg in January on a $7.35 million deal, the most lucrative transfer in United history.

Guediri comes aboard

United added defender Sami Guediri on a four-day loan from USL Championship affiliate Loudoun United. The 5-foot-11 left back started Monday and played 58 minutes.