Dwayne De Rosario’s immense value lies in the ability to create and punctuate scoring opportunities. For eight matches this season, the 2011 points leader was largely a provider, but in the course of three weeks, the reigning MVP has rediscovered his destructive finishing form.
With two first-half goals against his hometown club Saturday night, De Rosario upped his total to five in six matches as D.C. United defeated winless Toronto FC, 3-1, in front of 14,287 at RFK Stadium.
He scored on a header 57 seconds into the match — the fourth-fastest goal in United’s 17 seasons — and benefited from an elegant build-up just before halftime to increase his regular season career total to 98. Only six players in MLS history have posted 100.
United (7-4-3) won for the fifth time in seven matches and extended its home unbeaten streak to seven since losing to Kansas City in the opener. Toronto (0-9-0) hasn’t won a league match since last September, a 0-10-3 rut.
Fatigued by a busy stretch, United lacked the cohesion that has marked its resurgence this spring. But De Rosario’s goals, Branko Boskovic’s distribution and Najar’s breathtaking display fueled an attack that was missing injured scoring leaders Maicon Santos and Chris Pontius.
“We struggled with keeping the ball for long stretches and making them work,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “That’s fatigue. That’s guys not moving for each other and the brain getting tired, so the touch isn’t as quality.”
Long before the weariness set in, United went ahead. Boskovic served a delicious free kick from 35 yards into the heart of the penalty area. Making a sharp run, De Rosario beat Ashtone Morgan and drove an eight-yard header into the left side. It was Boskovic’s first point in 26 MLS appearances over almost two years.
The rest of the half, United surrendered possession and was under duress on several uneasy occasions. The injury list grew midway through the half when right wing Danny Cruz injured his right hamstring. He will undergo an MRI exam Monday.
Center back Dejan Jakovic made his first appearance in a month, triggering three positional changes, including Najar into Cruz’s slot, where he is most comfortable.
“It’s been a year or two since I’ve seen Andy consistently playing with the hunger I see right now,” Olsen said. “Competition will do that sometimes. I’m very happy he had another good game. The plays he was making on their defenders were pretty fun to watch.”
United doubled the lead in 43rd minute on a sweet combination. Josh Wolff supplied Chris Korb overlapping on the right for a low cross to the unmarked De Rosario for a six-yard finish.
Toronto’s persistent pressure (19 shots, six corner kicks) paid off when Koevermans side-footed Julian de Guzman’s long free kick, but Najar made another clever dash and crossed to Salihi for a six-yard one-timer.
“We’ve put two games together. We have to continue like this,” Salihi said. “We’ve got to put a third game together [next Saturday against visiting New England] to show we are a team who is playing to go to the playoffs.”
United notes: Second-choice goalkeeper Joe Willis might not return to the active roster next week after suffering an eye injury in training. . . . United overtook Kansas City for second place in the Eastern Conference and is one point behind first-place New York. However, D.C. has played three more games than Kansas City and two more than the Red Bulls.