Brandon McDonald had a solid game against Houston, but he's going to have to step it up another notch in San Jose without Emiliano Dudar in the lineup.
United took the advice of three guys from Brooklyn and kept it going (kept it going kept it going) full steam Saturday night, winning a second straight game for the first time since [insert historical reference here]. They outfought, outthought, and outplayed Houston en route to a 3-2 home victory. And sweet it was.
What They're Saying About It
Shatzer: For the first time all year, United was able to overcome a poor performance from its defense. Because let's be honest: that was our worst defensive performance since the LA Galaxy loss. It wasn't long ago that our back line was the main reason we were escaping from games against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders with points.
Darr: In what turned out to be a crazy game, United overcame the elements, injuries and a resilient Dynamo squad en route to a 3-2 victory on Saturday night. A Maicon Santos brace was the difference in this game as he and Chris Pontius formed a formidable 1-2 up top for United.
Salazar: [Santos and Pontius], neither of which began the season as a starting forward, pointed to improved communication as the source for Saturday's success. With a week to prepare for the Dynamo's organized - but not overwhelmingly mobile - defense, an open dialogue between the strike pair became a daily occurrence at training. "It comes from practice," Santos noted. "We've been talking a lot. Every time the ball comes to me, I say stay close to me it is going to bounce to you. He's been listening to me and I listen to him, so we've been working really well together."
Goff: The mood wasn't all cheery, however. Emiliano Dudar, who has provided a commanding presence in central defense, departed late in the first half with a hamstring injury and seems likely to miss a few weeks. Center backs Dejan Jakovic (ankle) and Ethan White (knee) remain sidelined, forcing Olsen to make adjustments for Wednesday's match at San Jose (6-1-1), the Western Conference leader.
Stouffer: Is D.C. United a contender yet? United (4-2-3, 15 points) has the fourth-most points in Major League Soccer after beating last year's MLS Cup runner-up, the Houston Dynamo, pretty convincingly, even if the score was 3-2. They're unbeaten in seven straight matches. They're in second place in the Eastern Conference. They've got one of the hottest goal scorers in MLS in Maicon Santos and the frontrunner for rookie of the year in Nick DeLeon. Plus Dwayne De Rosario finally has a goal.
Hund: Santos' energy and movement were excellent, and he combined really well with the players running off him. But it's the goals that are key. How long has it been since United had a player scoring this many with his head? Here's hoping he stays hungry and motivated.
What I'm Saying About It
A quarter of the way into the season, there are really only two names in the running for team MVP. Offensive MVP is clearly Maicon F. Santos, whose goal-scoring has been fantastic and whose hold-up play is giving his teammates space to operate. On the other side of the ball, after watching the difference with him in and out of the lineup, can there be any question the Emiliano Dudar is the man? Unfortunately, we're almost certainly going to be without him for at least a couple games. That puts 3/4 of our center back corps somewhere in the injury report, generally on the wrong side of "questionable."
So, we'll almost certainly see Robbie Russell deputized alongside Brandon McDonald once again for the game at the West-leading Earthquakes Wednesday night. Given the defense's occasional lapses in marking with that combination, we could be in for a long night against the elusive goal machine Chris Wondolowski and the combative skin-getter-underer Steven Lenhart. It's a quick turnaround, so there's no time to dwell on the two straight wins - just time to try for three.