With only five days left until Christmas, let’s take a look back at some of the bright, candescent and Christmas tree light-esque United moments from 2017.
Your D.C. United advent calendar starts off with FIVE goals in two matches for forward Patrick Mullins in a moment that made Black-and-Red fans gleam with holiday cheer in September.
Every journey starts with a single step, in Mullins’ case his five goal journey started with a single touch of the ball. While scoring four goals in a match was an individual feat for Mullins, the first goal showcased the collective chemistry of a promising team. Defender Chris Korb started the build up with a pass through the legs of San Jose’s Danny Hoesen to new signing Zoltán Stieber. The duo connected for a give-and-go and Stieber played the ball to maestro Luciano Acosta who accurately found Paul Arriola sprinting down the right flank. The USMNT winger whipped in a low ball that Mullins cleverly tucked past goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell with a left-footed finish for his first goal of the night.
Mullins scored his first and it only took him three minutes to notch his second for the Black-and-Red. One seemingly wasn’t enough for the 25-year-old as he bagged his brace with a close-range header in the 60th minute. Arriola delivered the well-placed cross directly to Mullins’ forehead after Acosta and Stieber played equal roles in the attacking build up.
Mullins had two pieces of the perfect hat trick in the bag as he looked to complete his performance with a third capstone goal. The former Maryland Terrapin swept the first goal in with his left foot, flicked in a header with the second and pounced on a rebound with his right foot to complete the perfect hat trick in the 68th minute. It took him only 11 minutes as he sealed the record as second fastest hat trick scorer in club history. Stieber had his powerful free kick from distance fumbled by Tarbell and red hot Mullins was there to collect the rebound and score his third of the night.
What’s better than a perfect hat trick? We’re not sure but Mullins’ fourth goal from a direct free kick had us asking the question. September’s MLS Player of the Month was in prime form that night and decided to add a fourth goal to his tally in the 88th minute. After scoring three goals in 11 minutes, the forward was brimming with confidence and lined up to take the free kick in the final minutes of the match. In his second year with United, Mullins latched on to the free kick with his left foot and buried it in the far corner to score his fourth from a set piece. It was the first time in Major League Soccer history that a player scored four goals in a single half.
The buzz was felt through the league as spectators were enamored by the Black-and-Red forward miraculously finding the back of the net four times in a half. United fans were hoping for more of the same as the team traveled up to Red Bull Arena to take on their New York rivals on Sept. 27. In a blockbuster 3-3 draw, Mullins was on the score sheet for the second consecutive game when he netted the ball in the 70th minute to give United a 2-1 lead. Stieber started off the move and found Russell Canouse on the edge of the penalty box. Mullins made a clever run in behind the New York defense and Canouse found him with an intelligent pass that Mullins collected and caressed past an outstretched Luis Robles for his fifth goal in two matches.