D.C. United's season can be split into two parts. Before July 20, the Black-and-Red scored 18 goals (a stretch of 19 matches) while going 5-7-7. Since then, United have recorded 28 goals in 12 matches (best in the league), lost only twice and climbed above the red line for the sixth and final Audi MLS Cup Playoff spot. The significance of July 20? The day marked Patrick Mullins' arrival from New York City FC.
The former University of Maryland Terrapin is tied for the team lead in goals with seven and averages a goal every 161 minutes, best on the team. "Patrick’s been good. We feel very comfortable with him as a starter right now," head coach Ben Olsen said. "He is getting on the score board a lot and has been a big addition, but also the final ball with Patrick Nyarko, Lloyd Sam, and Luciano Acosta [has been good]. Those relationships now are starting to cultivate."
Those relationships have led to the Black-and-Red scoring 19 goals in their last six matches, are unbeaten at home in eight straight and outscored opponents 13-3 in their last three matches at RFK. United also lead the league in goals per game since July 20 (2.33), their nine multi-goal games in the same stretch are best in the league and two players have tied a franchise record for assists in a game, Acosta and Taylor Kemp (3). Acosta, who was recently named number 14 in Major League Soccer's 24 Under 24, is tied for fifth in the league for assists and leads the team in chances created with 47.
In addition to their plentiful goals, United have also found a knack for scoring late. They've scored seven game-tying goals after the 75th minute, including three consecutive matches earlier this month. On Sept. 1, Lamar Neagle scored a header off a corner to tie the game in stoppage time against New York City FC. A week later, Neagle completed United's comeback against the New York Red Bulls when he scored in the 95th minute. Captain Bobby Boswell then scored the club's 1,000th regular season goal when he tied the game late against the Chicago Fire on Sept. 16. “Whenever we have our backs against the wall we always put in a good fight no matter what,” Kemp said. “We need to carry this momentum into the big week.”