Chris Rolfe and Fabián Espíndola have stepped up in a big way for D.C. United in 2014. Rolfe, has been playing in his secondary position and still scoring goals for the Black-and-Red. Espíndola has been both getting himself and other on the score sheet, registering five goals and five assists thus far.
Last night, against the Houston Dynamo, both scored and assisted in the 2-0 win over the Texas side. Rolfe tallied first in the 28th minute after Espíndola fed him a no-look pass at the top of the box. The talented forward faked a shot and cut the ball back to his right foot, shaking defender David Horst before finding the back of the net.
In the second half, Rolfe found Espíndola on a break, who created a bit of individual magic. The Argentine ran at Horst, put his head down drove the ball into the lower-right corner past goalkeeper Tally Hall.
“I thought they did well,” said Assistant Coach Chad Ashton of the Rolfe-Espíndola tandem. “They had a good understanding of where the other was on the field. I thought the communication in the midfield in regards to getting close to those guys, to create numbers and create breaks was good too.”
The midfield four worked extremely hard to provide options for the two up top as well as providing service; a big part of that was Lewis Neal.
“He was great,” Ashton said. “You know what Lewis brings to the table every time. He is a great possession player. Every time he is on the field, we have more of the ball, he won’t stretch the field, but he allows other people to do that because we can keep the ball for longer and get the midfielders on the ball with more time to spring the forwards.”
Offensively, United was productive and efficient, but the team also posted a clean sheet. The team, as a whole, defended well on the night. Starting with Espíndola’s work rate in the offensive third, through Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud’s pressure, making it extremely difficult for the opponents’ midfielders to create or have time on the ball, through to the back four and Bill Hamid.
“I think Bobby [Boswell] and Jeff [Parke] were just animals,” Ashton stated. “[Chris] Korb did a good job of covering ground, and I thought Cristian [Fernandez] did a god job with his weak side defending. In the past, [Will] Bruin, [Giles] Barnes gave us problems physically, and I thought our center backs just didn’t let them affect the game with their physicality. Jeff and Bobby looked comfortable the entire game.”
Now, United move onto a side that is on a hot-streak in the New England Revolution. The Revs are undefeated since April 12, with only one draw in that six-game stretch.
“You know you have that third game coming quickly. You want to put as many points in the basket as you can,” Ashton explained. “It will be tough; they are flying right now—ten goals in the last two games. But we will put together a game plan and go in there and grab some points.”