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Defensive awareness pays off in United's win over San Jose

For the Black-and-Red, defense is critical. With standout center backs Steven Birnbaum and Frédéric Brillant, MLS veteran goalkeepers Steve Clark and David Ousted, and United’s 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Kofi Opare at the heart of the back line, the Black-and-Red are well-versed in defending. Leidos—the presenting partner of D.C. United—provides systems, solutions, and services covering air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace for Defense and Intelligence customers worldwide. Sponsored by Leidos, this weekly feature delves into some of the defensive storylines for United.

D.C. United struck early and often as they grinded out a 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend, their first road win of the season. It was a complete team effort that was backstopped by a strong defensive effort to hold the lead.

United goalkeeper David Ousted stopped five of six San Jose shots on goal to earn his first win with the Black & Gold while Luciano Acosta’s work in the midfield contributed to two goals.

In fact, Acosta and Paul Arriola’s defensive awareness in the midfield contributed directly to two crucial goals for United.

Darren Mattock’s goal at the 20th minute came off a heads up play from Acosta, who read the San Jose defense and made a smart run to pick off a pass and push forward. United knew that they could impose their will on the defense with speed and awareness, and Acosta used that to his advantage to put the Black-and-Red up 2-0 early in the game.

Arriola, meanwhile, continued to shine in his second start in central midfield. Arriola’s speed and work rate can put pressure on most any defender, and his tenacity lead directly to Yamil Asad’s decisive third goal.

With the ball at San Jose defender Jackson Yueill’s feet, Arriola rushed ahead and immediately applied pressure. Arriola won the challenge and forced the ball toward the San Jose goal, where he found a trailing Asad wide open for the third goal.

While the first half featured a spectacular performance on the offensive side of the field, the game was decided in the defensive half, where Ousted and the United defense shut the door.

Defenders Steven Birnbaum and Frédéric Brillant limited San Jose’s dangerous chances, and put Ousted in the right position to stop most everything he saw. Aside from one goal before the end of the first half, nothing came close to threatening United’s lead in the second half.

It was an encouraging complete team effort that came at a key time in United’s massive west coast road trip, and it was yet another huge step toward future success for the Black-and-Red.