WASHINGTON, August 18, 2014 — Luis Silva converted two goals, while Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola added late strikes as D.C. United exploded late in the game to crush the Colorado Rapids 4-2 on Sunday night at RFK Stadium before 12,814. The win was just what United (12-7-4, 40 pts.) needed after losing two games in a row.
Silva notched an early goal in a sluggish first-half of play, but the Rapids (8-10-6, 30 pts.) responded in the second-half with a goal-of-the-month candidate from Dillon Serna. Silva later earned his seventh goal of the season, and Rolfe’s late goal put the game beyond reach of the Rapids. United goalie Bill Hamid made a huge save just before the break to stop the Rapids, and with two assists, defender Taylor Kemp had one of his best games in a United jersey.
Espindola, making his first start after a lengthy time out with an injury, nailed his eighth team-leading goal with four minutes left on the clock. Deshorn Brown scored a stoppage-time consolation goal for the Rapids.
Coming into the game, both teams were desperate for a win. United were coming off back-to-back losses on the road causing doubts in fans’ minds after such a great campaign, while the Rapids had lost three in a row.
In its first real offensive play, Silva put United in the lead in the 12th minute with a well-taken goal after Rapids midfielder Nick LaBrocca gave up the ball in the middle of the park. Kemp was quick to take advantage of LaBrocca’s mistake and slotted a fine pass through the Rapids backline into the path of Silva. The United striker beat defender Luke Moor and fired the ball past Rapids goalie Clint Irwin to make it 1-0. Moor was injured on the play and stretchered off the field with a knee sprain.
Just before halftime, Hamid pulled off a big save to stop Vicente Sanchez from placing a shot inside the goalie’s near post. Hamid dived to his left to deny what looked like a certain goal.
After the break, the Rapids tied the game on an absolute stunner from Serna in the 52nd minute. Jared Watts headed Hamid’s clearance forward to Serna who allowed the ball to bounce and then volleyed a shot from over 30 yards into the United net. It gave the Rapids confidence but only briefly.
United responded quickly, but Silva’s shot went into the side-netting. Then Espindola hit the bar with an 18-yard chip over Irwin and defender Sean Franklin came close for United with a shot from outside the box. Suddenly United were controlling the play and the game was wide open.
United was back in the lead in the 67th minute following an excellent sequence of passes. Perry Kitchen passed to Franklin, who tapped the ball over a couple of defenders to Silva, who scored with an easy shot. United iced the win in the 82nd minute when Kemp made a run on the left flank and set up Rolfe, who shot to Irwin’s left for the 3-1 lead. Substitute David Estrada then set up Espindola to make it 4-1 in the 86th minute. Espindola could have got a second on a break-away but Irwin did well to block the shot at the top of the box. In the dying seconds Brown headed in a goal at the far post for his 8th of the campaign.
With the win, United remain in the second spot of the Eastern Conference and in a comfortable position to make the playoffs.
United next take on Jamaican club Waterhouse FC in the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night at 8 p.m.
Next, the team heads out on a road-trip. Up first is a visit to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, followed by a Wednesday game at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Bill Hamid, 7, Sean Franklin, 8, Bobby Boswell, 8, Steve Birnbaum, 7.5, Taylor Kemp, 8.5, Nick DeLeon, 7, Perry Kitchen, 7.5, Davy Arnaud 7.5, Chris Rolfe 8, Fabian Espindola, 8, Luis Silva 8.5. Subs: Lewis Neal, NR, David Estrada, NR, Alex Caskey, NR.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for many years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon.