Bad luck and big letdowns have become the norm for D.C. United this season and the stars seemed to be aligning against them again at several junctures in Saturday night’s 3-2 win over Chivas USA at RFK Stadium.
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Yet something was different this time. Whether it was the boost from Wednesday’s friendly win over AC Milan or simply the long-awaited payoff of all their hope and hard work, D.C. had what it took to dig out the result they so desperately needed.
“I think there’s confidence about the team after Wednesday’s win,” said Chris Pontius, who logged 90 quality minutes in his first league start after an extended injury layoff. “Everyone looked at the guy next to each other and knew that they were going to get the job done.”
D.C. have found a variety of ways to lose matches over the past two months but against Chivas, they simply would not be denied.
“For me, the most exciting thing about tonight’s game was seeing the guys’ heads – once they scored that second goal, I looked around at everybody and I felt that we were going to win this game,” said Santino Quaranta, who started the move that led to Adam Cristman’s goal and later drew the game-winning penalty. “That’s really positive because in the past, it hasn’t been good when we’ve given these late goals up.”
The winner finally arrived via a penalty kick in second-half injury time, and fittingly captain Carey Talley took the spot kick. Chivas striker Justin Braun had beaten Talley in a one-on-one battle to score the Goats’ opener, and the veteran center back was happy to gain a measure of redemption in the dying minutes.
“The first goal, I take full responsibility for, that guy is incredibly fast and I took the wrong angle. It happens,” Talley said. “I was happy to go up and redeem myself and help lead this team. I’ll be honest, the guys that did all the work in front of me before that kick, they were incredible.”
With Jaime Moreno on the bench, Talley was the night’s designated penalty-taker and he made no mistake with his finish, burying the winner against his former team.
“You know, I was looking for him, [to see] if he was going to get subbed in,” joked Talley in reference to Moreno. “It was a night that a lot of players look forward to, being able to step up and score an opportunity in stoppage time to help your team, and it just happened to be me tonight.”
So United have finally snapped their three-game losing skid, as well as a 352-minute scoreless streak—Saturday’s opener, a fine header from rookie Andy Najar, arrived six minutes before the squad matched the club record—and the manner in which they did so offers real hope for an embattled side.
“We found a way and that’s the important thing. There’s a lot of good things to come out of tonight,” said coach Curt Onalfo. “At the end of the day it’s three points that we desperately needed.”