Like Old Times at RFK Stadium

Victory over NYRB extends United’s lead in East, and it feels like the good old days
by Peter Muller   |   Friday, September 05, 2014

United Capitol – column on DC United (DCU) & the Washington DC/DMV area soccer scene.

It seemed like the good old days at RFK Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The venerable old stadium was rocking as D.C. United celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its last MLS Cup-winning team and the current squad extended its division lead by dispatching archrival New York Red Bulls 2-0.

It may be too soon to think about raising another banner at RKF but the victory gave United a 4 point lead in the Eastern Conference standings, brought the club to within 2 points of Supporter’s Shield leading Seattle Sounders and firmly established United as a legitimate contender in the MLS title race.

The day started with a reunion of the coaches and players who defeated the Kansas City Wizards 3-2 at the Home Depot Center ten years ago.

The 2004 team was represented by its Head Coach, Peter Novak, as well as key players including strikers Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian.

Also present were current MLS head coaches Ben Olsen (United) and Mike Petke (Red Bulls).  A third member of that team to become a head coach in MLS, Ryan Nelsen, perhaps would have preferred to be at the ceremony – instead, Toronto FC relieved him of his duties Sunday afternoon.

After the festivities, the 2014 edition of D.C. United proved that it must be considered among the elite in MLS this year.

The victory came at the end of a trying period for United, which included a decisive victory in Kansas City a week ago and a loss to the Galaxy in Los Angeles in mid-week in which a number of starters were rested.

But by the end of that stretch United has extended its lead in the Eastern Conference.

“I am very happy with the way things have been going,” said midfielder Davy Arnoud.  “It was a tough week with Kansas City, LA and New York, and two of those on the road.  For us to come away with 6 points is great.”

Olsen chose to sit Eddie Johnson for the first time this year, when available, in favor of the in-form Luis Silva and Fabian Espindola.  That pairing paid off in the second half when Bill Hamid sent a goal kick across midfield that Espindola headed to Silva, who got past New York keeper Luis Robles and put the ball into the net for the first goal.

As a second half substitute, Johnson squandered a couple of golden opportunities before icing the game in the 90th minute.

At the start of the year it was hard to imagine how United could be improve upon its dismal showing last season without a big year from Johnson.  But as Johnson belatedly begins to find his form - he has scored goals in 6 of his last 8 games, in all competitions – it has been the performances of Espindola and Silva that have impressed.

Silva’s goal on Sunday was his 8th of the season, to go with 4 assists, while Espindola has 9 goals and 9 assists on the year – despite missing two months with an injury. 


United’s season-high crowd of 19,453 brought the club’s average attendance this year to 16,468 which is the largest attendance figure in D.C. since 2008.

After travelling to Vancouver next weekend United’s final 7 league matches will be against Eastern Division foes.

United’s next Concacaf Champions League match will take place on Tuesday, August 16, when the club travels to Jamaica to take on Waterhouse FC.

NEXT UP: September 6 - DC United at Vancouver Whitecaps, BC Place, Vancouver, BC. 10 p.,m. ET, Comcast SportsNet, CBS Sports Radio.


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Peter is a government relations professional in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, CA. He has been a DC United season ticket holder since 1997 and has attended every MLS Cup except one – in 1998 when he was busy helping his boss get re-elected to Congress.