WASHINGTON – For the first time all season, things went exactly as D.C. United had planned on Saturday night against the Montreal Impact.
From Ben Olsen’s successful substitutions, to being able to save some key starters for Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinals match against Chicago, to the cleverness of the first-time pairing of Luis Silva and Dwayne De Rosario up top, to the near-post runs the club talked about executing all week paying off in the form of Conor Doyle’s game-winner, United’s best effort of a woeful season came four days before its biggest game of the year.
“It was one of those nights where everything you wanted to get out of the game happened,” Olsen said.
Following United’s 3-1 victory at RFK Stadium – the club’s third win of the season and the first time all year D.C. scored three goals – the names on the scoresheet were hard to ignore.
Jared Jeffrey, acquired via waiver draft on July 3. Silva, acquired on July 9 in exchange for allocation money from Toronto FC. Doyle, signed on loan from Derby County on July 18. All young, all American, all brought in as part of United’s midseason re-tooling.
Silva opened the scoring with his third goal in three matches for United. Doyle’s 68th minute flick-in was the first goal of his professional career and Jeffrey followed with a stoppage-time tap-in assisted unselfishly by Doyle.
“It’s changed the chemistry of the team a little bit,” Silva said of the new faces, which include Homegrown Player Collin Martin, who signed with the first team on July 10 and played 14 minutes in the second half. “Obviously we’ve got young bodies in there and the coach is giving them the confidence to produce and come in and play our game. There’s nothing better than that.”
Jeffrey’s final goal was special for both he and Doyle as the two played club soccer together in Dallas.
“We turned to each other and laughed,” Doyle said. “He said ‘Thank you.’ I was always squaring it. [Jeffrey] played 90 minutes and ran that far, I wasn’t going to let him not score. It was a cool moment for us both growing up with the [Dallas] Texans.”
Said Jeffrey: “I was a little worried he was going to shoot it, being the center forward he is. I had to thank him, let’s be honest. He gave me that one, for sure. … I think we’ll look back on this day and we’ll laugh about it. Right now the focus goes into Chicago.”
Indeed, the timing couldn’t be better as United prepare for Wednesday’s Open Cup match against the Fire, a team that embarrassed D.C., 4-1, on July 20. Olsen said after the match that Joe Willis will remain his starting goalkeeper for that game as his club will attempt to win back-to-back matches (across all competitions) for only the second time this season.
“We have nothing to lose,” Olsen said. “And we’re asking the guys to play that way. We’ll see if we can get past Chicago and get into a championship.”