Alecko Eskandarian is the first United player to score 10 goals in a season since 2001.
Tony Quinn/MLS/

Behind the badge: Double trouble

On the strength of his two-goal performance in last week's win over Colorado, Alecko Eskandarian joined elite company as a two-time winner of the Player of the Week honor in MLS. He joined San Jose's Pat Onstad, Los Angeles's Jovan Kirovski and teammate Jaime Moreno as two-time winners. This week, we'll take a look at just how important Moreno and Eskandarian are to the success of the Black-and-Red.

  • Seeing double - Eskandarian's goal against Chicago was important for two reasons. It was United's first corner kick goal since August 31, 2002, a span of 62 games and nearly 400 corner kicks. More importantly, it gave him 10 goals on the season. He became the first member of the Black-and-Red since Abdul Thompson Conteh in the 2001 campaign to score double-digit goals in a season.

  • Don't dis the miss - With his missed penalty kick (on only the second attempt this season for D.C.), Jaime Moreno broke a streak of nine straight penalties made by the Black-and-Red. But no worries, he kept an even more rare streak alive. Moreno has assisted on six straight goals for United, a feat only accomplished by three other players in the history of Major League Soccer. Former United teammate Marco Etcheverry was the first to accomplish the feat, over three games (May 15 to May 30) in MLS's debut season. New England's Alberto Naveda did it again later in 1996, and then it was three years before that record would be broken. Steve Ralston (now with New England) assisted on seven straight goals for the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

  • Working well together - As a forward tandem, Eskandarian and Moreno are among the tops in the league, scoring a combined 49 points between them (Eskandarian - 10 g, 2 a; Moreno - 7 g, 13 a) in league play. They sit a single point behind Kansas City's duo of Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud, who split 50 points - Wolff from nine goals and six assists and Arnaud from nine goals and eight assists.

  • If it ain't broke - With Eskandarian and Moreno partnered up top, United have not only won more games, but they have scored more while doing it. In 12 matches that saw the Eskandarian/Moreno partnership in the first XI, the Black-and-Red hold a 5-3-4 record, with eight of those matches resulting in two or more goals for the good guys. In the 14 matches that have seen other partnerships, United's record drops to 3-6-5, with only two multi-goal games, and only one of those a win - 3-1 against Colorado.

    Style points

    With three tallies last weekend against Chicago, the Black-and-Red matched last year's total of 38 goals. But this year's side has certainly done it with a bit more panache. Alecko Eskandarian again has a goal nominated for the Sierra Mist Goal of the Week, his seventh nominee. He leads early voting by a comfortable margin. Although United lead the league with 18 nominees, what is more impressive is their consistency. United have only failed to have a nominee in two matches where they have scored, and lead the league with four different players who have won.

    Eskandarian has been money in the bank when he scores, collecting three of the five awards. In ironic fashion, both times Eskandarian has failed to take home the honors, he has been beaten by a member of the Columbus Crew, his favorite target. Throughout his career, Eskandarian has tallied five of his 13 goals against the Crew, including a pair of two-goal games.

    Playoff watch

    United's 3-1 win against Chicago was huge in the Eastern Conference race, as it helped provide some separation in the standings. United need only garner seven points from their final four matches to guarantee a return to the playoffs. The Black-and-Red are clicking at the right time to make it happen, as they have taken 12 points from their last seven games, their only loss coming to Chicago on Sept. 4.

    With the win over Chicago, United keep the Columbus Crew in their sights and open up a little breathing room on Chicago. The Black-and-Red can still capture the Eastern Conference top seed, as they sit a mere seven points behind Columbus. In fact, the only team that cannot take top honors is New England.

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