WASHINGTON, April 28, 2014 — A goal down for much of the first half against a superior offense, D.C. United routed FC Dallas 4-1 at RFK Stadium on Saturday night after the Texas visitors had a man red-carded in the 39th minute. Zach Loyd’s ejection turned the game on its head and United responded with four unanswered goals: a brace from Fabian Espindola, and strikes from defenders Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin.
“Without the red card we were in trouble,” said United coach Ben Olsen.
Eddie Johnson, who helped set up United’s comeback just before the break, left the field early in the second period after feeling tightness in a hamstring.
Dallas certainly looked the better team in the early going and took the lead on Mauro Diaz’s goal in the 13th minute. But after Loyd earned his second yellow card for a rash tackle on Davy Arnaud, United took advantage of the extra man and made the high-flying visitors pay dearly.
United (3-2-2, 11 points) has now gone five games unbeaten and is tied with three teams on 11 points behind leaders Columbus Crew (12 pts.) in the Eastern Conference. With three wins, the team has tied its winning total from last year’s nightmare season.
United fell behind early when Diaz tore open the United backline with a spectacular well-worked goal. It seemed all too easy, as Diaz faked out Fernandez and breezed past Boswell to fire a shot beyond goalie Bill Hamid. Suddenly it was all Dallas, and Hamid had to come up big to stop Fabien Castillo from dribbling around him.
Arnaud came close to getting United back in the game in the 32nd minute but FC Dallas goalie, Chris Seitz, pulled off a big save.
Then came the red card. Suddenly United had a man advantage with plenty of time on the clock, while Dallas was forced to sacrifice goal scorer Diaz for a more defensive player in midfielder Adam Moffat to replace Loyd.
Just before the half time whistle, United were back in the game from a magical goal. Nick DeLeon set up Eddie Johnson on the right flank, and the U.S. team striker curled in an excellent cross for Espindola to head past Seitz. United’s players ran to celebrate the assist by Johnson, who is under pressure to score his first United goal.
After the break, United took the game to Dallas, and on the hour-mark the pressure paid off. The unlikely hero was Boswell, hitting in a rebound to give United the lead. Franklin’s cross from the right was headed down by Jeff Parke into the path of Johnson’s replacement Conor Doyle, whose shot was stopped by Seitz, only for Boswell to fire home the rebound. United sealed the win as Franklin connected with Espindola’s cross from the left in the 64th minute, using the outside of his right foot to place the ball left of Seitz.
Espindola, United’s hottest player, added a second goal five minutes later, firing home a pass from Chris Rolfe to make in 4-0.
The Player Ratings
Bill Hamid (6) – Back from three games out with injury, he was little shaky in the early minutes but later came up big to stop the rushing Fabian Castillo. He also made a huge save late in the game.
Sean Franklin (7.5) – His forward runs paid off with a well-taken goal.
Bobby Boswell (7.5) – Could have done better on the FC Dallas goal but made up for it by being in the right place to score the go-ahead goal.
Jeff Parke (7) – Continues to be United’s steadiest defender and cool under pressure. Worked well to help set up the Boswell’s goal.
Cristian Fernandez (6) – Made a few sloppy passes and was beaten too easily on the opening goal but posted some nice passes in the second half.
Nick DeLeon (6.5) – Looked very sharp early in the game setting up a fine pass for Franklin and later for Johnson’s assist.
Perry Kitchen – (6.5) – Worked well in the midfielder and continues to do all that is asked of him.
Davy Arnaud (6) – Had United’s best chance in the first half before the goal and then drew the foul that saw Zack Loyd red-carded.
Fabian Espindola (8) – In the right place to head home United’s first goal and scored United fourth goal with a stunning shot.
Eddie Johnson (6.5) – Still looking for his first goal but you can’t argue with the amazing curling cross to set up United’s tying goal just before the break.
Chris Rolfe (6.5) – Continues to fit in to United’s setup. Worked well on the left flank and had a number of good crosses.
Conor Doyle (6) – Played most of the second half and helped set up Boswell’s goal.
Chris Korb (N/R) – His first minutes back this season after injury.
Luis Silva (NR) – Able to get some minutes after recovering from a recent injury.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 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 or email [email protected]