D.C. United clinched a posteason berth with their 3-1 victory over New York City FC in front of a crowd of 30,943. The Black-and-Red rode turned in a good performance after some time off. The attack looked good for much of the match, there was definitely a goal or two left on the field. David Villa scored the lone goal for the visitors. Head Coach Ben Olsen’s 75th win turned out to be an important one, as the team locked down a playoff spot. This team has went through several ups and downs this year, at the moment they are continuing to trend upwards at as good a time as any.
For a team that had a two week layoff, it was hard to tell. D.C. United jumped on NYC FC and didn’t let up. They started a little rusty, but regained the form that had their attack as one of the most dangerous in the league over the last few weeks.
26 minutes in, Luciano Acosta dropped a beauty of a thru ball to a running Lloyd Sam. Splitting the difference of space between the left back and the center back, Sam’s pace allowed him to easily fill that gap. Lloyd played a ball across the mouth of the goal, Patrick Nyarko slid in an attempt to get a food on it, but missed. Patrick Mullins didn’t waste a moment to get revenge on his former club, tracking down the errant ball and firing it past Josh Saunders for the first goal of the game. The high pressure from the home side didn’t let up, forcing a few errors by the visitor’s back line.
Four minutes after Mullins scored, the Captain, Bobby Boswell went on the board with a header off a set piece. Sam provided the service, Birnbaum appeared to have slipped when planting to jump, but Boswell was a few yards away and met the ball cleanly, heading it inside the far post. Saunders was still on the near post, nowhere in position to defend Boswell’s attempt. There were a few hairy moments for the Black-and-Red’s backline, but nothing major as Bill Hamid was in position to field those attempts cleanly.
That high pressure was the direct reason for the third goal of the half, Mullins and Acosta were pressuring the ball. That led to an errant pass to Saunders, Mullins slipped in his original attempt to get to the ball. Saunders bobbled it a bit and Mullins poked it free, he then placed a pass to Rob Vincent who was racing into the box. The midfielder calmly placed a shot to the near post, beating the NYC FC defender who tried to defend the open net as Saunders hadn’t gotten back to the box.
There was a bit of a lull in the second half from the Black-and-Red, but it wasn’t anything catastrophic. NYC FC did get their lone goal of the game in the 70th minute when David Villa was tripped by Taylor Kemp in the box. The veteran forward beat Hamid for the tally, but the keeper made a few big saves on a few point blank chances later in the match.
The home side picked it back up around the 80th minute or so, again putting pressure on the visitors. Julian Buescher almost connected with Patrick Mullins for a goal that was definitely highlight worthy, but the pass was made a bit late as Mullins was ruled offsides. D.C. United finished on the attack, leaving the game with the 3-1 victory.
There was happiness in the locker room following the win, but the team was also focused on finishing the regular season strong. Ben Olsen mentioned that in the post game press conference and several players mentioned the same sentiment following the match. It’s good that the Black-and-Red clinched a postseason berth, but there is still one more game left in the regular season.