October 19, 2019

D.C. United Game 4 Recap: Rolfe quickly turns tide for United

Chris Rolfe needed just 27 minutes to do for United what so many others had failed to do so often. Rolfe’s goal deep into stoppage time put the finishing touches on a 2-0 D.C. win over the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium Saturday night, snapping a 15-game Major League Soccer winless streak for United. D.C. improved to 1-2-1 (4 points) and moved the club into sixth place in MLS’ Eastern Conference. New England fell to 1-3-1 (4 points) and has scored just two goals and five games.

United could understand the Revs’ meager offensive plight. Entering Saturday’s win, D.C. had only scored two goals, as well. And it was the Revs who put United into the lead Saturday, when José Gonçalves neatly tucked a left-footed volley into his own net in the 43rd minute – because if you are going to score an own goal, make it a tidy one. To be fair, however, United earned the goal, as well, as Cristian made a nice run to take a feed from Fabian Espindola near the end line to New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth’s right. His cross was then turned in nicely by Gonçalves.

Even against a light-scoring side such as the New England, United’s defense doesn’t usually leave much confidence of a shutout. But Rolfe, acquired from the Chicago Fire for allocation money just last Wednesday, put the three points away just short of full time. Gonçalves found himself in the picture again on this goal, though he left Rolfe to do the finishing.

Short of numbers at the back, Espindola was on the left side of the attack and sent a perfect ball toward the top of the penalty area, beyond the reach of Gonçalves. Rolfe had run in behind him and met the ball with a right-footed volley that bounced off Shuttleworth and across the line. The strike helped United to a badly needed win and also may have, at least for now, silenced some of the questions over why the club acquired the 31-year-old forward.

But if Rolfe can score even on a somewhat regular basis, it’s a massive improvement over last year, where no United player tallied more than three league goals (and where Own Goal usually struck into United’s net, rather than the other team’s). While the match wasn’t a display of clinical soccer (there were only three total shots on goal of 19 attempts), United would be wise to not worry about style points, at least for a while. Beautiful soccer is always great to see, and the interplay between Espindola and Cristian leading up to the own goal was quality work.

Given, however, that three teams in the East (Chicago, New York and Montreal) are still winless on the young season, any three points are great points for United right now. Especially with the Red Bulls coming to RFK Saturday night to renew the league’s most storied rivalry. Last season’s best team in the regular season, New York is 0-1-4 and while its offense has been fine (six goals), the Red Bulls have conceded nine times.

Saturday’s match is also the last of three straight home games for United – a bit of a rarity in MLS. A win would leave D.C. with seven of a possible nine points from the stretch, production the likes of which we never saw last season. If nothing else, Rolfe’s goal and the shutout provide hope that the 2014 season offers much more promise than what was seen in 2013.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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