Match Analysis: D.C. United vs Sporting Kansas City

Assistant Coach Chad Ashton breaks down the Black-and-Red's performance

He is an MVP-caliber player on an MVP-caliber run on a team of players willing to do whatever it takes to get three points. Fabián Espíndola netted his 7th for the Black-and-Red on Saturday night at RFK, giving United the 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.

“It’s hard to explain when forwards get on rolls, but he’s on a roll, picking up points every game,” said Assistant Coach Chad Ashton. “He’s finding different ways to do it, whether it’s by himself or getting other people involved.”

It’s the consistency that makes Espíndola great. Even dealing with a stomach bug all week, missing some training sessions, he battled for 90 plus minutes. In the words of Head Coach Ben Olsen, “He’s a warrior.”

“I think a lot of people look at that play and say they thought it was a cross. I am 100% positive that he saw Eddie [Johnson] coming underneath, picked his head up and saw the keeper biting on Eddie’s run, and he just put it over the top of him. It was a big time play.”

That play was “big time,” but wouldn’t mean as much if United didn’t preserve the shutout. Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell have led a stingy defense all season, with the help of Cristian Fernandez on the left and Chris Korb and Sean Franklin, who stepped in for an injured Korb last night, on the right.

Bill Hamid had a stellar performance as well with five saves on the night and his third shutout of the year. The 23-year-old stand out, along with the veteran backline and incredible leadership in the midfield have really begun to claim D.C. United’s look and feel this season.

“I think that’s just who we are right now; our identity is we know how to grind out games, and we don’t really care what it looks like as long as we walk out of there with points,” Ashton explained. “We’ll take ugly wins all day. We’ll take points every time we can get them.”

On Saturday, those points came against reigning MLS Cup Champion SKC, a team riddled with injuries and two starters away with the U.S. Men’s National Team. The players filling those roles, though, have more than risen to the occasion.

“They were good,” Ashton said of Sporting’s performance. “Even missing some of their regular starters, they understand their system very well. They play that system better than any team in the League. For them to be able to knock it around the way they do is a credit to their staff and their team.”

While United did get the win, there is always room for improvement, and the coaching staff knows this; they also give credit where credit is due.

“Would we like to have the ball more? Yes. Would we like to look a little bit better? Yes. But, there is something to say for teams that know how to get results, and you have to give our defense a lot of credit for being able to keep a shutout,” Ashton concluded.