D.C. United will host the Montreal Impact in a Knockout Round game tomorrow night at RFK Stadium. The Black-and-Red went through many changes through the course of the regular season, along their way to securing the fourth seed in the playoffs. Head Coach Ben Olsen spoke with the media yesterday after training, the one thing that was made clear is that this was a group effort.
Indeed it was. There have been several unsung heroes on this journey, a few players that had to adapt to new tactics and positions, as well as new teammates. The current roster is far from what it looked like at the start of the season, while some have made headlines and deservedly so, it’s the group that has earned the playoff spot. It’s the group as a whole that has made this work, the group that helped a team go from scoring close to less than a goal a contest to one of the better attacks in the entire league. They would finish the season with 53 goals scored, good enough for fifth in the league.
Rob Vincent and Nick DeLeon have stepped in at different positions and not only held their own, but contributed. Lamar Neagle went from starter to super sub without batting an eye. Luciano Acosta found his way in this league, it took a little time, but he’s now firmly at the controls of D.C. United’s attack. Patrick Mullins has made the most of his opportunity since the trade, going from a talented sub, to a very good starting forward. The talented duo of Patrick Nyarko and Sam Lloyd on the flanks have played a big role in just how quick the Black-and-Red counter and have shown their creativity when it comes to finding chances for teammates. Both Taylor Kemp and Steve Birnbaum have taken a step forward this season as well, as the year’s gone on rookie Julian Buescher has found his way as well. Jared Jeffery, Jalen Robinson, and Luke Mishu have contributed along the way when called upon. Bobby Boswell is still holding his place on the back line and he’s gotten in on the attacking some this year. Bill Hamid looks healthy after a couple of injuries and has been his spectacular self in several big moments during the regular season. It’s been a total group effort.
They’ll be facing a talented Impact team, regardless of their form as of late. Still, it’s clear that D.C. United is focused on what they can control, their play. The Black-and-Red are starting to get healthy, with Marcelo Sarvas and Sean Franklin getting back to training. No matter who gets the nod in the starting 11, D.C. United has a very good problem on their hands. Most of their 18 have gotten a very good chunk of minutes played this season, it only strengthens the bench.
The Black-and-Red have been through a lot this season, that group effort is what got them here and it’ll play a huge role in how far they go this postseason.