WASHINGTON – They are just barely above the red line – for now – but D.C. United looked very much like a playoff team on Saturday evening.
Facing an Orlando City SC side in a similar situation, United put together arguably their most complete performance of the year – and did so in front of 25,842, their biggest crowd in recent memory.
“Everybody brought their game on both sides of the ball tonight,” United head coach Ben Olsen said after the match. “If you do that in this league consistently, with the players we have, we can have success. But if one or two or three guys choose not to be at their peak performance, it’s enough to lose a game.
"We’ll look to build off of that and make sure the urgency continues to stay high for each and every game from here on out.”
United were on the front foot from the get-go and exploited Orlando’s poor defensive organization on the opener. But United have made a habit over the course of their 2016 campaign of blowing early leads, and a 1-0 advantage did not seem particularly safe.
No problem, then. D.C. added two more tallies in the opening minutes of the second half, and a fourth for good measure in the 90th. They were sound defensively, too, as midfielder Nick Deleon filled in for an injured Sean Franklin. Everything was clicking for United.
“It was stressed all week that we needed to come together and work hard and that’s obviously what we did,” said Mullins, who despite only having joined United a little over two months ago, has become the club's leading goal-scorer. “And then you see the fruits of the labor: You get chances, you score goals. I’m just proud of the team effort tonight. You look top to bottom and there were some very good performances out there.”
Added D.C. captain Bobby Boswell: “This is important,. We talked earlier this week and I said that we want to take care of business as early as we can, we don’t want to leave it for that last [regular season] game at Orlando, we don’t want it to have to mean anything.”