Led by a pair of goals from New Jersey native Alecko Eskandarian, D.C. United defeated the New York Red Bulls 4-1 Saturday afternoon at Giants Stadium.
The result leaves United with 10 points through their first four games of the season, which matches their best start in club history. In 1997, D.C. United began the season 4-0 (three wins in regulation, one win via shootout).
Eskandarian found the net once on either side of halftime, powering two left-footed shots past Red Bulls goalkeeper Tony Meola to give D.C. the advantage. Defender Facundo Erpen then stretched the lead to 3-0 before Youri Djorkaeff and Jamil Walker traded late goals to finish the scoring.
It was the visitors who applied all the pressure in the early going, D.C. United finding spaces behind the Red Bulls defense. Eskandarian attempted to give the Black-and-Red an early lead when he fought off a shoulder challenge from Carlos Mendes, only to drive his toe-poke attempt right at Meola.
The 100-cap winner for the U.S. national team made a more difficult save just three minutes later, getting down quickly to stop a Christian Gomez effort from inside the box.
United goalkeeper Troy Perkins was first called to duty in the 16th minute when he dived to his right to cut out the Red Bulls' most meaningful foray into the offensive third in the first 45 minutes, which was capped by a shot from midfielder Djorkaeff.
For D.C., the breakthrough finally came four minutes before halftime. The play began when midfielder Freddy Adu came into possession deep in the Red Bulls' half on the left flank. He drove a low cross into the penalty area, which was deflected out to Eskandarian inside the box. The fourth-year marksman kept his shot away from Meola this time, burying a drive just the far right post.
While the finish might not take home Sierra Mist Goal of the Week honors, Eskandarian's actions after scoring his second goal of the season surely land him on the short list for Celebration of the Year. He made his way back to the D.C. bench and found a waiting Red Bull energy drink. After one big swig, Eskandarian spat out the sugary energy drink and shook his head.
Perkins made another good save just before the intermission, reacting quickly to come off his line and pick the ball off of Mike Magee's foot to preserve the lead heading into the locker room. Magee suffered a right pinky finger dislocation on the play, though he remained in the game after Red Bulls trainers popped it back into place.
Djorkaeff, who scored on a controversial free kick when the teams first met to open the 2006 season on April 2 at RFK Stadium, looked to repeat the effort shortly after the restart. This time, though, his shot hit D.C.'s defensive wall and was easily cleared.
Moments later the visitors extended their lead, Eskandarian once again doing the damage. Midfielder Brian Carroll received the ball on the left side of the field and he found midfield collaborator Ben Olsen near the top of the box. The U.S. national team member used a clever first-time pass to put Eskandarian behind the Red Bulls defense again and he slammed the ball past Meola to take the score to 2-0.
Erpen put the Black-and-Red up by three in the 71st minute with a phenomenal strike from some 35 yards out. The Argentinean defender blasted a right-footed shot from the center of the park that flew past Meola to nestle into the upper corner. It was Erpen's second goal of the season against the Red Bulls, as he scored the game-tying strike when the sides drew 2-2 in their first meeting of the season.
Djorkaeff cut the lead back down to two in the 86th minute when he scored his second of the season, both against United. Magee picked off a pass and hit Djorkaeff perfectly on his curling run into the area before he slid the ball through Perkins to make it 3-1. It snapped his scoreless streak at 338 minutes since allowing two goals in the first 18 minutes of the season opener, and ended a run of nine consecutive goals without answer by United.
The visitors didn't waste any time restoring the three-goal advantage as substitute Walker put the game out of reach just two minutes after Djorkaeff's goal. Carroll picked up his second assist of the day on the play as his through pass was slammed past Meola to complete the rout.
D.C. United will be back in action next Saturday night as they return to RFK Stadium to host FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, will head west as they visit Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.