CHESTER, Pa. — Using rent-a-lockers with Velcro name-tags and dressing in tight quarters in the visiting locker room at PPL Park, D.C. United’s players cranked the music on the stereo. It had been a while.
After roughly three months of futility away from RFK Stadium, D.C. finally got a win on the road. And it just so happens it came on the same pitch as their last one.
“It wasn’t the greatest performance, but we hung in there,” United coach Ben Olsen said following D.C.’s 1-0 victory against Philadelphia on Thursday. “We’re really happy to get this monkey off our back.”
Losers of six straight away from RFK Stadium, United desperately needed a result to maintain pace in the hectic Eastern Conference playoff race. D.C. now are in fourth, ahead of both Houston and Columbus as they ready for a showdown on Sunday against Chivas USA. (7 pm ET, Galavisión)
Full Highlights: PHI 0, DC 1
D.C.’s previous road win was, oddly enough, a 1-0 victory at PPL Park on June 16.
“We had lost the last six games on the road and we’ve been pretty poor all season on the road,” said midfielder Lewis Neal. “We come to our local rivals, which they are now, and to get a 1-0 victory is a massive result.”
It was a goal by a player very familiar with PPL that earned D.C. the win. Lionard Pajoy — traded to United for Danny Cruz in August — deposited a pass from Chris Pontius (pictured above, right) into an empty net for his seventh goal of the year and second with D.C.
Pontius now has assists in back-to-back games after captain Dwayne De Rosario went down with an MCL sprain.
“We’ve got to start winning on the road. We have two at home and three on the road left, so getting a win on the road, I think everyone stuck together,” Pontius said.
During that six-match road losing skid, United were outscored 11-1. They had gone 314 minutes without scoring a goal on the road until Pajoy struck in the second half of a game that was significantly less intense than the wild 1-1 draw at RFK in August.
“Obviously, you’re going to take points when it comes to it, but we were pushing for a goal tonight," Pontius said. "We were pushing for a win. When it came to those last 15 [minutes], and they started launching balls forward and throwing guys into the box, I thought our backs did great.”
Overall, D.C. are now 4-9-1 away from home and have been outscored 25-10.
The win couldn’t have come at a better time to boost the club’s confidence as three road matches still remain for United at Portland, Toronto and Chicago.
“This is a huge, huge win,” defender Dejan Jakovic said. “We kind of stole one last time we were here. We have four road wins and two are here in Philly.”