Best friends share special moment in win over Rapids
Of all people, D.C. United forward Hamdi Salihi should knowthe golden rule of strikerdom:
No matter how ugly, lucky or unintentional, you never – EVER– apologize for scoring a goal.
Yet that’s what the Albanian found himself doing afternetting the result-securing strike in D.C.’s 2-0 win over Colorado on Wednesdaynight. Riddled with guilt fortapping in the rebound from Branko Boskovic’s 60th minute divingheader, Salihi was hoping to see his teammate – and close friend – earn atangible reward for a magnificent performance.
“When we go into the locker room I told him I’m sorrybecause I wanted him to score,” Salihi admitted after tallying his third goalin four matches. “I know how hardhe works every day. He was injuredfor one year and he worked hard every day to come back and he deserved thegoal.”
After a difficult two-year stretch in MLS, Boskovic’s hardwork finally seemed to pay dividends against the Rapids. More than a year removed from an ACLtear suffered in U.S. Open Cup play last April, the Montenegrin distributedflawlessly from the center of midfield through much of his 71-minuteappearance. When Lewis Neal servedhim a perfect cross twenty minutes into the second half, it appeared as thoughBoskovic was – at long last – ready to open his MLS account.
A brilliant save from Matt Pickens denied the 31-year-old atfirst, but his longtime pal was there to finish the job.
“I’m happy as if I scored because I know it’s difficultfor him here,” Boskovic said. “Ihave a little bit more experience here, and I know how hard it is. It’s not easy to come from anothercountry and play a different soccer.”
Earlier this year, it was Boskovic’s influence that helpedland Salihi stateside despite offers from major European clubs. The pair – who are virtually inseparableon D.C.’s road trips - played together for a year at Rapid Vienna, and qualifiedthe historic club for Europa League by finishing third in the Austrian Bundesliga. On-field chemistry made for quickfriendship, and Boskovic has ensured that Salihi’s transition to American lifewill be easier than his.
“Branko is my best friend,” Salihi said in the momentsfollowing Wednesday’s match. “Not only from here, but from before too.”