WASHINGTON – 2011 was mostly a year to forget for D.C. United and their supporters, as the team missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. One of the lowlights was a 4-0 shellacking at home by the New York Red Bulls.
But on Sunday night, United erased that nightmarish, returning the favor with a 4-1 win over the Red Bulls.
“We talked about what they did to us last year here,” Chris Pontius told the media after the match. “We didn’t forget about losing 4-0. [This year] we are a more mature team. We close games out better, and we see plays out better. We make a lot less stupid mistakes.”
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
Pontius did his part, scoring twice in the first half, before rounding out his first professional hat trick in the 69th minute. Pontius struggled for playing time early this season while coming back from a broken leg, but has now scored four goals since being shifted to the forward position.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: See all of Pontius's touches
“I thought he had a good night,” manager Ben Olsen said. “He still doesn’t know how to play forward though. And that’s a scary thing. He’s still new at the position, and some of his movements can get a lot better. But three goals aren’t too bad.”
Not too bad indeed.
With the win, United run their unbeaten streak to six games, with three wins and three draws during that stretch. And perhaps even more importantly, United jump over the Red Bulls in the standings, and now sit alone in second place in the Eastern Conference.
“We are getting better every game, and the goal is always to put in a good 90-minute shift,” midfielder Perry Kitchen told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “I thought we did it for the majority of the game, and that’s how we got the result. But we can still get better.”
Following the midweek draw at home to Montreal, in which the team appeared sluggish in the first half, the Black and Red came out of the gate the aggressor against New York. Three goals in the first 35 minutes proved just that. And Pontius, who stripped Red Bull striker Thierry Henry of the ball, leading to the 8th minute opener, was the catalyst.
“[Pontius] set a great tone early,” Olsen said. “The entire team was buzzing, and the ball was moving. The field was wet, and it was a nice night for them to play.”
Pontius, Maicon Santos react to big win