Second-half substitute Branko Boskovic’s diving header proved the difference as D.C. United beat Chivas USA 1-0 on Sunday evening at RFK Stadium.
It was Boskovic's first goal in MLS and it moved United (15-10-5, 50 points) into a tie for third place with New York in the Eastern Conference standings. Chivas (7-15-7, 28 points), meanwhile, extended their winless streak to nine games.
Neither team was particularly effective in what was their only meeting of the season.
The first half lacked the feel of a late-September match with playoff implications, but following an early 13th-minute strike by United midfielder Nick DeLeon that forced Chivas 'keeper Dan Kennedy to make a sprawling save to his left, D.C. came to life.
Maicon Santos, back in D.C.’s Starting XI after subbing on in last Thursday's win against Philadelphia, attempted four shots in the opening 45, including one that required Kennedy to make a diving stop.
Chivas, who played without suspended players Oswaldo Minda and James Riley, didn’t manage their first attempt on goal until the 36th minute. Captain Shalrie Joseph launched a shot from outside the box that was deflected and nearly caught D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid off guard.
The visitors fired the first salvos in the second half, and perhaps their best chance of the match came in the 54th minute. Midfielder Miller Bolaños and forward Casey Townsend were two-on-two against D.C.’s center backs. Bolanos crossed to Townsend, but Dejan Jakovic deflected Townsend’s attempt on goal to the sideline.
United answered back, and when they did, they made sure it counted.
In the 64th minute, forward Lionard Pajoy made a nifty move outside the box to free himself up and send in a low cross. Boskovic made the run and dove to beat Chivas defender Danny Califf to the ball and nod it inside the far post.
The playmaker – who vented about a lack of playing time earlier in the week – dropped to his knees and was mobbed by his visibly-excited teammates after the goal, his first in 39 MLS matches.
Chivas had another pair of late chances to equalize, but simply couldn't convert.
The win extended D.C. United's franchise-best home unbeaten streak to 15 matches. They'll return to action next Saturday, when they travel to Portland to take on the Timbers. (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
Lineups and boxscore (MLSsoccer.com)
Opta Chalkboard (MLSsoccer.com)