In Bill Hamid’s first game back, the Black-and-Red kept rolling. They put up two goals in the first half and never looked back, goals from Fabian Espindola and Sean Franklin paced United in the scoring department. There were many other opportunities to score as well, just weren’t lucky enough to put the shots in the back of the net. Columbus came into the game with a vaunted attack, but were unable to get on track outside of a few chances all game. Hamid recorded a clean sheet and the back line continued their strong play. Couple that defensive effort with a strong counter attack and that was the recipe for the 2-0 DC win.
The Black-and-Red were more than up for the challenge of facing one of the league’s most dangerous attacks. Outside of the first couple of minutes, it was DC that put an insane amount of pressure on Columbus and dictated the temp of the first half. United was able to keep the ball in the Crew’s final third, generating chance after chance. Steve Clark was under a great deal of pressure as DC was able to find open players running free in the final third. The first quality chance of the half was a perfect example of combining; Espindola got the ball out wide and played it in the box to Nick DeLeon who headed it to Pontius, who returned the header and DeLeon put a volley on target that just missed the top bar of the goal. That was just an example of the type of combining that lead to great scoring chances for the Black-and-Red.
As for the chances that were converted, the first came off of a Columbus corner via a counter attack. The ball was placed into DC’s final third, it was cleared almost instantly. Chris Rolfe received the ball at the top of his own box and pushed the ball up the center of the field at top speed, as he was about to be engaged by a defender, Rolfe slipped a deft pass to the cutting Espindola on his left. It was a perfectly timed pass and run, as Rolfe’s pass went inside the last defender and Fabi made his run on the outside which put him in space at the top of the Crew’s box. Columbus goalie Steve Clark had no choice but to try and close down on Espindola and limit his angle, the problem was the angle in which Fabi received the ball. Clark could cut off the near post, but the far post was more than fair game. Fabi placed a pretty shot to the right of Clark to put United up 1-0.
The second goal involved Espindola as well. If there’s one thing DC can hang their hat on to this point in the season, it’s their prowess in set pieces. After earning a corner, Fabi took it from the right corner and put a beautiful in-swinger on the far post where Franklin was making a late run. It was perfect placement and timing, Espindola stating after the game that ‘sometimes you do something in training and you just try it’, well it certainly worked.
The second half started with Columbus trying to press and regain the tempo of the game and it worked for the first 10 minutes or so, even creating a few good chances. United came out a bit disinterested and very sloppy, the Crew made them pay for it, well at least tried to. Due to the stellar play of DC’s backline, the few shots that the Crew got on target were very easy saves as Hamid had great sight lines. There were a few crosses that were dangerous and Hamid showed the difference between him and his fellow goalies, as he is extremely confident attacking crosses that are played into the box through the air. He plucked a couple of them out of the air easily, there were a couple that he had to work for. Keep in mind Hamid is coming off injury, he commented on how he felt in his first game back. Specifically in the injured knee when he had to explode off it and dive, “Yeah I felt something here and there, I guess that’s a part of it you know. When your adrenaline kicks in, you don’t really pay attention to that and you let your body go. So, I think it was positive right now, but I have to continue to get better. Continue to get healthy and stay on the field.”
Overall, it was another dominating performance from United. Although, head coach Ben Olsen thought they could have finished a bit stronger. ” Very pleased with the way we started the game. We wanted to make them uncomfortable and I think we did that. We struck early on a counter, set pieces were another area we could take advantage of and it’s good to see some of that give us rewards. Then for the rest of the game, I thought we defended well. Pretty tough to break down, would have liked to been able to do better on the other end and get that third goal because it certainly was there.”
Despite the ability to get that third goal and display that killer instinct, the Black-and-Red continued to roll. It’ll be interesting to see if they can make it seven straight matches without defeat next week.