For the first 397 minutes of his MLS career,D.C. forward Hamdi Salihi was forced to wait. Denied by a crossbar, some bad luck and a Joe Cannon miraclesave in Vancouver, one of United's most important offseason acquisitions was -two months into his Black-and-Red career - still searching for a firstgoal. On Wednesday night, Salihiput an end to the waiting game as he scored the Black-and-Red's final tally ina 5-3 loss at San Jose.
"That was great," said head coach Ben Olsenof Salihi’s breakthrough strike. "It's a big plus tonight. He took it well, a pretty class goal. That is what he does."
"[As] a striker you always have toscore," said Salihi, who used a clever, left-footed flick to beat IkeOpara and Jon Busch while finishing off Dwayne De Rosario's brilliant,88th-minute pass. "When youare not scoring there is more pressure on you. This is normal."
Salihi's calm approach to his scoreless startin MLS is a testament to the 28-year-old's professionalism. Through a decade-long career that hasseen him score at both the domestic and international levels, Salihi has grownaccustomed to the dramatic ups and downs of the forward position.
In short, he's been here before.
"I have more than ten years as a playerand it's not the first time I've had a situation where I didn't score in 5 or 6games," Salihi acknowledged. "I know there will come [a] time where maybe you will score goalsdoing nothing, because football is like this."
It's not like I was down. I know what I can do and I believe inmyself."
The Albanian's reluctance to get worked up abouthis early struggles was also aided by the proceedings around him. Offering further proof of his unselfishperspective, Salihi was happy to see a flurry of other scoring options emergeearly in the season.
"Chris [Pontius] and Maicon [Santos] weredoing well," Salihi explained of his refusal to be frustrated. "This is not a problem for me whensomebody else is scoring. This isvery good for me."
On Wednesday, Salihi’s teammates could gladlysay the same.
"It's good to see him score," said defender DanielWoolard, who also scored in D.C.'s first loss since March 18. "Hopefully the floodgates open upfor him and he keeps it coming. That seems to be the trend. Once he gets one, they keep coming."
“Maybe this goal helps me a little bit mentally,” added Salihi. “To be a little bitstronger and to believe more in myself.”