WASHINGTON – D.C. United entered their encounter with the New England Revolution on Saturday afternoon in need of a bit of joy.
Mired in an early season offensive funk, United went into the affair floating around the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Scoring woes that had at first been chalked up to preseason jitters were starting to become legitimate concerns. A strong performance would do quite a bit to wash those away.
D.C. got just what they needed – a thorough, 3-0 dismantling of New England that will likely serve as a much-needed jolt of confidence.
United were the benefactors of an early penalty kick call, which midfielder Lamar Neagle confidently slotted home, and a late insurance tally, confidently tucked away by former Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio.
But it was their second goal – an audacious, 25-yard chip from second-half substitute Luciano Acosta – that really put an emphatic exclamation point on the win.
“That’s what [Luciano] does,” said United assistant coach Chad Ashton, filling in for a suspended Ben Olsen. “That’s why he’s here. He’s got a lot of magic in him. I still think he’s got to pick and choose the right times to do it, but you’ve seen already in the little glimpses that he’s played that he can pull off the big-time play and it was very timely for us [today].
“We’ve seen him in practice, obviously. He’s super cheeky and tough to defend, so we knew something special was going to come at some point and obviously this was the night. He’s a great player, so none of us were really surprised when he did that.”
United fans have been clamoring to see more of the Argentine, D.C.’s premiere offseason acquisition. The former Boca Juniors attacker has slowly but surely adjusted to D.C.’s system, and Saturday’s performance – along with a two-assist effort against Vancouver two weeks back – will likely force Olsen to consider his inclusion in the starting lineup.
“There’s no doubt in my mind as the season goes on he’s going to see significant playing time,” Ashton told MLSsoccer.com. “But we’ve got to pick and choose our times when we get him in there right now and have a good balance in terms of who we’re putting on the field. That will sort itself out. His playing time will come, and he’ll earn that, but it’s tough for any player to walk into this league.”
Added Acosta: “Honestly, you always want to be starting, But that’s a decision for the coach, and I’ve got to respect that. But I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to be playing.”