D.C. United hasn’t utilized their Designated Players this season as most teams would. On Wednesday night though, that would all change, as United comfortably defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-0 at RFK Stadium.
With Dwayne De Rosario, Branko Boskovic, and Hamdi Salihi starting together for just the second time this season, United rode goals from De Rosario and Salihi past the Rapids for their sixth win of the season.
Neither team looked threatening in the first half, until De Rosario opened up the scoring in the 25th minute with his third goal of the campaign. Englishman Lewis Neal picked up a loose ball in midfield, with space to roam, and made his way towards goal before picking out De Rosario’s run, and the Canadian international slipped a shot past Matt Pickens for the 1-0 lead.
Salihi’s goal came courtesy of Neal and Boskovic, with 30 minutes remaining in the game to essentially end any hope the Rapids had of mounting a comeback. After De Rosario had the ball cleared, Neal picked up the pieces, and sent a cross in for Boskovic, and the resulting header was saved by Pickens. However the predatory Salihi was right there to knock in the rebound, and despite protests for offside from Colorado’s players, the goal stood for the 2-0 advantage.
De Rosario’s goal woke up United in the first half, and only the heroics of Pickens kept United from adding to their lead in the opening 45 minutes. De Rosario had a deflected shot that was parried away by Pickens, before the Colorado keeper was ‘Johnny on the spot’ to keep out Robbie Russell’s powerful header.
Andy Najar also fell victim to Pickens, as the Honduran’s weaving run around Luis Zapata resulted in a well-placed shot that Pickens sprawled out to ensure it did not find the back of the net.
The Rapids came alive early in the second half, after they failed to muster a shot on target in the first half. Tony Cascio did well to get a long range effort from the right flank on target, but Bill Hamid was at full stretch to knock the ball behind for a corner.
Jamie Castrillon had a volley attempt minutes later that Hamid was out early to block away. Conor Casey, who made his first start of the 2012 season, headed a cross into the box for Castrillon, but the Colombian had no angle to get past Hamid.
Colorado’s inability to find the back of the net was punished by United in the 60th minute, as Salihi struck for his third goal of the season, and third goal in the past four games. Any chance of a Colorado comeback vanished with the goal, and United rode out the final 30 minutes for the win.
The Rapids, who fall to 5-6-0 with the loss, head home on Saturday to host Sporting Kansas City, while United (6-4-3) has the benefit of staying home before welcoming Toronto FC on Saturday at RFK Stadium.
With the win, D.C. move level on points with Sporting, who currently occupy second place in the Eastern conference standings.
Lineups and boxscore (MLSsoccer.com)
Opta Chalkboard (MLSsoccer.com)