Ben Olsen and D.C. United (3-15-4, 13 pts.) were desperately searching for goals coming into Saturday night’s game against the Montreal Impact 10-6-5, 35 pts.). D.C. had only scored more than one goal once this season coming the game, but, thankfully for Olsen, his youngsters were able to provide not only goals but also a much-needed, 3-1, win at RFK Stadium.
The win snapped a five-game winless streak for D.C. in league play and was its first win since a 1-0 win over San Jose on June 22. It was also an important win for a United team looking to build for next season because the playoffs have long been out of reach.
Goals from newcomers Luis Silva (19th minute), Conor Doyle (68th minute) and Jared Jeffrey’s stoppage time nullified Jeb Brovsky’s goal for Montreal in the 52nd minute.
Silva, who has been a revelation since joining D.C. from Toronto FC, opened the scoring to continue his goal-per-game ratio since the move. With three goals in three game, Silva has already become the team’s leading goalscorer. His movement, pace and ability on the ball made him a constant threat to score. And being paired with a now healthy Dwayne De Rosario doesn’t hurt either.
De Rosario made it be known that, when healthy, he can and will make this D.C. team tougher to stop in the final months of the season, even if the playoffs are out of reach, with his ability to control tempo with his passing but also create chances for himself and his teammates out of nothing with his ability to find space and outsmart defenders.
Doyle, who came on for De Rosario in the second half, proved to be just as much of a handful for the Impact backline as De Rosario. The former Derby County player showed confidence and goal-scoring know-how with his goal in the 68th minute, a first-time flick of a cross with the outside of his foot after making a near-post run. It was an intelligent run followed by a near-perfect finish that left Montreal defenders flat-footed.
Doyle then set-up the final goal from Jeffrey on the break. After committing everyone forward Montreal was caught out and Doyle and Jeffrey were free to break out, finding themselves in a two-on-one with Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Doyle waited for Perkins to commit and then slotted the pass to Jeffrey to finish the chance in an empty net.
If Doyle can maintain the kind of form he was in when he came on in the second half, especially from the start in 2014, D.C. could have a potent, young attacking line squad with Doyle, Silva and Nick DeLeon, if he can return to last season’s form, at its disposal. All three players are good on the ball, have pace, aren’t afraid to take on defenders and can score plenty of goals.
Montreal, on the other hand, wasted an opportunity to stay tied for first in the Eastern Conference with the New York Red Bulls, who beat Sporting Kansas City earlier in the night, with two games in hand if the Impact could have taken three points from its visit to RFK.Instead, Montreal was unable to cope with United’s quick counter-attacks down the flanks and the impressive midfield pairing of Jeffrey, who was acquired on July 3 from the German club Mainz , and Perry Kitchen.
Kitchen and Jeffries not only shielded the D.C. defense, which has been under immense amounts of pressure at times this season, but they also sprayed the ball around the field and shifted United’s point of attack quickly and often, which made it hard for Montreal to link play through the middle of the field and slowdown D.C.’s wingers on counterattacks.
With D.C. out of the playoff race, Olsen has begun preparing for next season by giving his youngsters the opportunity to shine. If those players can grow and fight through the battles this year, D.C. could be a team on the rise again next year.