WASHINGTON – Dwayne De Rosario scored the fastest hat trick in MLS history and D.C. United vaulted right back into the postseason race on Saturday night with a 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake at RFK Stadium.
De Rosario scored all three of his goals in the first 31 minutes of the match, which put a screeching halt to Real Salt Lake’s five-game winning streak and put D.C. on the edge of the playoff picture.
D.C. United (9-8-11) jumped to the 11th spot in the postseason standings, trailing New York by one point for the final playoff spot after the Red Bulls’ 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
The hat trick was the second this season for De Rosario, who vaulted into the lead for the Budweiser Golden Boot with 13 goals this year. It also quelled concerns after two straight disappointing outings for D.C, including a midweek draw against fellow playoff contender Chivas USA that saw De Rosario’s potential game-winning penalty kick in stoppage time saved by Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
The loss was a stunning end to a recent hot streak for RSL (15-8-6), who also lost their grip on the second spot in the Western Conference to the Seattle Sounders. RSL played without regulars Jamison Olave, Robbie Russell and Andy Williams and didn’t start either Fabian Espíndola or Álvaro Saborío, although Saborío came on in the second half and scored RSL’s lone goal in the 86th minute.
D.C. United needed just 13 minutes to take the lead. De Rosario picked out a streaking Andy Najar with a diagonal ball that split the RSL back line, and Najar outraced defender Blake Wagner before he hammered a shot home past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Najar returned the favor for De Rosario nine minutes later. The Honduran midfielder found space on the right wing and looped a long, curling cross into the RSL box that found De Rosario, who headed it past Rimando for a 2-0 lead.
De Rosario didn’t let up, adding a third goal five minutes later. A bouncing ball was deflected by Josh Wolff into De Rosario’s path, and he curled a shot into the upper 90 from outside the penalty area.
De Rosario completed his hat trick on his best goal of the night just four minutes later. He blasted a 35-yard free kick that caught Rimando cheating towards his far post, and the shot curled home into the near post’s upper corner to punctuate an amazing offensive night for the MLS veteran.
A stunned Real Salt Lake had few chances to claw back into the game. In the 42nd minute, an unmarked Arturo Alvarez headed Ned Grabavoy’s cross just wide of Bill Hamid’s post, and Jean Alexandre hit the side netting in the 75th minute.
Midfielder Javier Morales was expected to potentially see his first minutes for Real Salt Lake since he suffered a broken ankle in May, but he went as an unused substitute.
D.C. take to the road next week to battle regional rivals Philadelphia on Thursday, while Real Salt Lake head home and host the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.
DC -- Andy Najar 4 (Dwayne De Rosario 11) 13
DC -- Dwayne De Rosario 11 (Andy Najar 6) 22
DC -- Dwayne De Rosario 12 (Josh Wolff 6) 27
DC -- Dwayne De Rosario 13 (unassisted) 31
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio 10 (Paulo Araujo Jr. 4) 86
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Blake Wagner (Will Johnson 62), Nat Borchers, Rauwshan McKenzie, Chris Wingert, Arturo Alvarez (Luis Gil 62), Kyle Beckerman, Collen Warner, Ned Grabavoy, Paulo Araujo Jr., Jean Alexandre (Alvaro Saborio 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Fabian Espindola, Javier Morales, Chris Schuler, Tim Melia.
D.C. United -- Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Brandon McDonald, Marc Burch, Andy Najar (Brandon Barklage 81), Stephen King, Clyde Simms, Austin Da Luz, Josh Wolff (Blake Brettschneider 74), Dwayne De Rosario (Joseph Ngwenya 65).
Substitutes Not Used: Charlie Davies, Santino Quaranta, Daniel Woolard, Joe Willis.
RSL -- Collen Warner (caution; Reckless Tackle) 59
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland; Adam Garner
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of game: 1:49
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-73-degrees