WASHINGTON – D.C. United finally found a way to break through on Saturday evening, snapping a record-setting 16-game winless streak with a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution.
Their contributors, though, were far from the ones you’d expect. Aside from New England defender Jose Goncalves – who pitched in in the form of an own goal – D.C.’s victory was due in part to a pair of unlikely figures: a goalkeeper who hadn't started an MLS match in three-and-a-half years and a striker who arrived in D.C. just days before the match.
Backup goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra – who last started an MLS game on Oct. 10, 2010 – spent all of 2013 on loan with the Richmond Kickers, United’s USL PRO affiliate, after spending much of 2012 on a similar loan with the Charleston Battery. Both stints provided the one-time Chicago Fire starter with much-needed playing time during an extended period outside of United’s game day roster.
“I always say that I owe a lot to Charleston and Richmond,” Dykstra told MLSsoccer.com after the win. “Because of my game time there, because of my experiences. One or two games is good for your confidence, but when you’ve gotten 20 or 30 games with a team, it helps you settle down and learn about yourself a little bit."
Though Dykstra wasn’t called upon often on Saturday evening – New England only managed a single shot on goal during the entire match – he proved up to the task, certainly an impressive feat for a player who’d been absent from the 18 for such an extended period of time. After the match, the 'keeper shared that he hadn’t even known that he’d be starting until a few hours prior to kickoff.
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“It was a little hard to switch on,” Dykstra reflected. "Mentally it’s kind of tough. But I think that I’ve played enough games and had enough experiences in USL and my first run with Chicago that you put that rust aside. You just deal with it.”
Chris Rolfe’s contribution was perhaps even more unexpected. Acquired in a midweek trade with Chicago, the former national team striker entered the match as a second-half substitute and pitched in almost immediately, putting the game out of reach with a stoppage-time goal.
“I didn’t know if I should go forward or not,” a smiling Rolfe said at his locker after the match. “I thought we needed to hold on to the ball. Conor [Doyle] did a great job of holding the ball up, found Fabián [Espíndola] and his ball was perfect.”
United’s newest member attributed the success to his teammates and United’s front office, noting that he’d already begun to feel right at home prior to Saturday’s match.
“The most important thing was kind of to move on as quick as possible,” said Rolfe. "It’s been crazy. the guys have been great, the organization has been awesome, and that made it really easy for me of course. The staff has been great just keeping me un-stressed.
"To be honest, just finally winning – for these guys who’ve been working so hard – is just a great feeling.”