WASHINGTON – It took roughly half an hour for a huge regular season game to turn into much more on Saturday at RFK Stadium.
Cue the De Ro show.
Dwayne De Rosario’s first-half hat trick set the pace in DC United’s 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake, as the Canadian international scored three times in a nine-minute sequence and added an assist to lead D.C. United to a huge three points towards a postseason berth. The hat trick was De Rosario's second this season with D.C. United, and the quickest in MLS history.
“The thing with DeRo is, I’m not even really surprised anymore with some of the stuff he does,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “I’ve seen as a fan of his, and seeing it from the other side in 10 years. This is what he does, and why we wanted him. He’s just been exceptional, and the guys jumped on his back and rode the wave today.”
Added midfielder Stephen King: “He’s a special player. It’s so much fun playing with someone like him. He makes everyone around him better, and at the same time he pulls of special plays.”
Four instances of magic from De Rosario – a sublimely weighted through ball to Andy Najar for the game’s first goal, a perfect glancing header, a beautiful curling effort into the upper 90, and a daring and astounding free kick from nearly 35 yards – allowed DC to seize control of the evening and come away with a comfortable win.
In the match’s aftermath, De Rosario shifted focus off himself and onto the rest of the squad.
“I can’t speak more highly [of] the guys,” he said. “I think collectively as a unit it was first class, from (goalkeeper Bill Hamid) right up to the forwards – winning second balls, competing for first balls, closing down our guys and really making it very difficult for a very confident and good Salt Lake team to play.”
Moving past the individual work of De Rosario, Olsen was pleased to see his team bounce back from a disappointing 2-2 draw against Chivas USA that saw the club cough up two points on home turf.
“As a team, as a group, it was a really, really good performance,” he said. “It’s what we asked of them all week – the only way we were going to get a result tonight was a complete group effort, everybody doing their part.”
But the star of the night was inevitably De Rosario, who now has 10 goals and six assists since joining DC at the start of July. Olsen can only hope to see more as DC’s playoff push continues.
“The great thing about Dwayne is he’ll forget about this, move on and try to do it again,” Olsen said. “It’s a great performance from him. I’m sure even for him it’s a pretty memorable game.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.