WASHINGTON – Dwayne De Rosario wasn’t the only D.C. United player to shine in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
His mammoth performance overshadowed a number of other excellent shifts on the field at RFK – Josh Wolff, Perry Kitchen, and Andy Najar were among those to leave their mark on the match. Next to MLS Player of the Week De Rosario, however, United’s other standout on the night might have been midfielder Stephen King.
“He had probably the best game I’ve seen him play,” head coach Ben Olsen said of the fourth-year midfielder. “He broke up a lot of plays, he played at certain spots that were tight and gave us good possession.”
Playing 90 minutes for just the fourth time in 2011, paired in central midfielder with Clyde Simms, King was all over the field, disrupting Real Salt Lake’s passing game in the final third and even getting forward into RSL’s box on a few occasions.
Throughout the evening, King’s distribution was nearly flawless, as he completed 24 of 30 passes, according to Opta. One of his forays forward in the first half led to De Rosario’s second goal of the game, as King chased down a through ball that opened space up for De Rosario to curl home a layoff from Josh Wolff.
“I felt great,” King said after the game. “I think we as a team made the guy next to us play better just by working extra hard and playing as a group, and making sure if one guy messes up, the other guy is there to bail you out.”
While getting goals and assists aren’t exactly in King’s normal repertoire – he scored his first goal in a D.C. uniform against Vancouver earlier in the year – he just missed notching one early in the second half, sending a long-distance shot whizzing just over the RSL crossbar.
All in all, it was a satisfying performance on the field for the University of Maryland product, who was making only his seventh start of the season. There may be more coming, however — when he does start, United are undefeated (3-0-4).
King was pleased not only for himself, but also for the whole group.
“After the game on Wednesday [against Chivas], we just wanted to come in here focused and do whatever it takes to win the game – a full 90 minutes, everyone with total concentration," he said. "We did that tonight and we’re happy with the result.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.