On a rainy Sunday evening in front of a small, but lively crowd, DC United cruised to a 4-1 victory over their Eastern Conference rivals the New York Red Bulls.
United was able to take advantage of three first half goals to secure all three points on the night, leapfrogging the Red Bulls and taking over second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Here are six things we learned from the game.
Chris Pontius was feeling it
Chris Pontius was a one-man wrecking crew on Sunday, scoring three goals and leading DC United to the win.
On his first goal, Pontius dispossessed Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry near midfield, drove upfield, outmuscled Red Bull defender Markus Holgersson and then scored the opening goal with a great strike from just outside the 18.
Pontius picked up his second goal on the night crashing the net to score off a service from strike partner Maicon Santos, who had beaten three Red Bulls defenders before centering the ball.
But Pontius saved his best for last, scoring his third with a masterclass combination of dribbling and finishing. After gathering the ball off a missed clearance, he beat his defender, held off a second and then tucked the finish past Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara into the far corner.
The New York Red Bulls can’t defend to save their lives
All night the Red Bulls backline was panicked and disorganized, pulled apart repeatedly by DC’s attack. So far this season, in only seven games, the Red Bulls have given up 14 goals, the second worst in the league.
What’s worse? The only team to give up more goals than the Red Bulls is the expansion team the Montreal Impact.
Pressure’s the name of the game
The entire first half, New York struggled with DC’s high pressure which resulted in multiple turnovers deep in the Red Bulls end.
As a result of the pressure, New York repeatedly tried to bypass their midfield and launch ineffective long balls towards their forwards, Kenny Cooper and Henry.
Meanwhile, New York’s lack of pressure on DC’s backline allowed DC long stretches of possession throughout the first half.
By the time New York began to apply pressure to DC’s backline in the second half, it was far too late.
Nick DeLeon looks to be the real deal
Highly touted University of Louisville prospect Nick DeLeon, who was selected by DC with the seventh pick of the first round in this year’s MLS Draft, had a superb night.
DeLeon was good on the ball, held possession well, played smart one-two touch, aided in the build-up to DC’s second goal and scored their third.
Kenny Cooper was off his game
In an early opportunity when the score was still 0-0, Cooper didn’t shoot and instead attempted a poor layoff, giving away possession.
On his second good chance of the night, Cooper was played in to the DC box, but instead of using his big frame to take a touch and go to goal, he tried an ill-advised dummy to a non-existent teammate.
On Cooper’s third run into the DC area, he once again tried to lay the ball off, again to no one.
When Cooper finally did get a chance to line up a shot in the 2nd half, his first and only shot of the game, he lined it directly at DC keeper Joe Willis.
Rafa Marquez is still a dirtball
Following two suspensions last year, one for criticizing his own teammates in the media, the other for starting a brawl after his team lost to the LA Galaxy in a first-leg matchup of last year’s MLS playoffs, Rafa Marquez has once again abandoned his team through a stupid suspension.
Marquez’s most recent suspension, which caused him to miss this game against DC United, came when he tackled San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas fracturing his shoulder into four pieces. Salinas is expected to miss eight weeks and will require surgery to repair his shoulder.
For good measure, Marquez also intentionally kicked Salinas in the face on the follow through of the tackle.
John D. Halloran