For the past few weeks, there have been flashes and stretches of encouraging play from the attack. More often than not, resulting in missed chances due to poor finishing. Leaving a team that is starving for victories, in a unwanted streak of draws. The Chicago Fire may have just been the perfect set of circumstances for D.C. United, the home team also could have truly hit their stride in that regard for the first time as well. Either way, the result was a much needed three points and certainly a confidence booster for a team that has to win down the stretch. D.C. United beat Chicago 6-2, powered by a Patrick Mullins hat trick.
The Black-and-Red took 21 shots in their rout of the Chicago Fire, 10 of which were on target. Patrick Nyarko had a day against his former team, he was a big thorn in their side. Drawing several fouls and even a red card in the first half after an aggressive take down by Khaly Thiam. The Fire player than threw the ball at Nyarko’s head or in that direction. Patrick said he was initially “furious” when talking about the sequence after the game. He’s had an issue with concussions and as you imagine, the last thing you want is a person throwing a soccer ball at your head when you’re not looking or ready for it. The former Fire player had two assists and a goal against his former mates.
He wasn’t the only Patrick to have a big night as Mullins recorded his first career hat trick. Their was great synergy between him, Nyarko, and Luciano Acosta. The three found each other quite often in pockets of the Chicago defense, moving the ball in tight quarters and finishing. Mullins has made the most of his playing time since being traded, takin advantage of the opportunity and really being what D.C. United needs atop the attack. He does a good job in hold-up play and is a quality passer, all of which were on display tonight along with his finishing.
The trio of Nyarko, Mullins and Luciano Acosta were nothing but trouble for the Chicago backline. Winning in 1v1 situations, manipulating the space in the box and working seamlessly as all three had at least one goal on the night. It’s only one game, just three points, but it was a must win game. The Black-and-Red face Mullins former team midweek next week, we’ll find out how much this big night offensively means in the long run. It’s great to see them finish, but it must become something of the norm and that’s what D.C. United has to prove going forward. Creating chances is not nearly enough, finishing is imperative.
Nyarko. He’s a legit threat every night on the flank, he and Lloyd Sam do a wonderful job of calming the attack. Taking time on the ball and opening things up for teammates with their deft ball handling and touch on passes. Patrick is also a foul magnet, nearly every game he is taken down aggressively because opposing teams don’t know how else to get him off the ball. He is a key part to D.C. United’s attack and proved it against his former team with one goal and two assists.
Mullins. It was a big moment for the former Terrapin, it was evident on his face when he was addressing the media. After not being given the opportunity to truly show how he could impact the game for a team, being given limited minutes prior to the trade, he recorded his first career hat trick last night. Since being traded to D.C. United, he’s been the perfect forward for them. His game gives them exactly what the team needs up front. In just a few games, he’s become the leading scorer on the team this year. His partnership with Acosta is special, the two seem to find each other very well. The outcome of this season will fall heavily on the shoulders for both youngsters as they are huge cogs in the attack.
Acosta. The youngster is truly settling in to MLS play, he seems far more comfortable and it’s proven in his creativity. It’s also clear that his teammates are getting used to playing with him, they are giving him the ball knowing that he’ll find them or put them in the best situation. He is the distributor, the straw that stirs the drink for their attack. He’s able to open up a backline at any time with a couple of moves, his vision is top notch as well. Like Nyarko, does a great job of switiching fields which is something that the Black-and-Red struggled with prior to adding those new pieces.
Finishing. It had to be a relief for D.C. United, to finish the chances they created. They took 21 shots on the night, more importantly they finished 6 of the 10 shots put on goal. There were still several that were point blank opportunities that went wide or a bit high, also a few that the Fire keeper managed to get a hand on. They need this to continue going forward, to be that attack minded and finish the opportunities that were created. There 6 goal outburst has now evened their goal differential for the season.
Must Win. Coming off a draw on the road in Montreal, D.C. United needed a victory in their pursuit of the post season. As of now, D.C. United has a four point lead over 7th place Orlando. They have to continue to get three points to make the post season.