WASHINGTON -- Patrick Mullins scored four goals in the second half for D.C. United as Ben Olsen's team dealt the San Jose Earthquakes a blow to their Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs chances with a 4-0 victory on Saturday night.
Mullins required only 14 matches to score eight goals in his first half-a-season with D.C. in 2016. But hadn't found the net in 15 previous appearances for the Eastern Conference's last-place team. That all turned around dramatically in one match, his 31-minute outburst enough to put him alone in second on D.C.'s scoring charts during a season in which the Black-and-Red have hit the net only 27 times.
United outshot the Quakes 14-10 on a night that San Jose entered with one point on the good side of the playoff line in a crowded Western Conference table. FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, both barely on the other side of that line, played later Saturday.
San Jose is looking for their first post-season appearance since 2012.
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- FOUR WITH FOUR: Mullins became the first player to score four goals in an MLS match since Jeff Cunningham accomplished the feat for FC Dallas in 2009. The 31-minute stretch he required was the shortest needed by any four-goal scorer in league history, besting the 38 minutes the Miami Fusion’s Diego Serna needed in 2000. And he’s the fourth D.C. player to score a quartet of goals, and the first since Abdul Thompson-Conteh did it in 2001.
- OLD BLOOD, NEW BLOOD: Mullins may be a holdover from last year’s playoff side, but all four goals owed to new acquisitions during the 2017 season. Summer signing Paul Arriola contributed the assists on Mullins’ first two tallies. Fellow August arrival Zoltan Stieber’s free kick created the rebound leading to Mullins’ third. And his fourth came from a direct free kick won by January Homegrown Player signing Ian Harkes.
- BILL ON THE BENCH: After Olsen said this week he would use the remainder of the season to test players who have not featured regularly, he gave Steve Clark his first start in goal while leaving a healthy Bill Hamid on the bench. Hamid had started all but five of D.C.’s previous 29 matches this season, missing four of those when he was at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the US national team. But he is out of contract after this season.