The stories about Branko Boskovic write themselves. Publicly criticized by his coach, repeatedly subbed out just barely into the second half, and now finding himself on the bench to start the match. Many players would mope, or beg to return home where the playing time comes easier. That's not what Boskovic did though. He kept fighting for minutes, and when deployed in an unfamiliar advanced role, he earned himself a goal and his team a win.
Boskovic's diving header delivered a 1-0 win for D.C. United over Chivas USA tonight at RFK Stadium, but I don't want to spend a ton of time on Boskovic. Because like I said, those stories write themselves.
What won't get as much coverage is the defense. This three-game winning streak hasn't been pretty and hasn't come against the most spectacular of opponents, but with three close matches, the winning streak wouldn't have come at all without a steady defense. Bill Hamid now has two straight shutout victories, and his back line deserves tons of credit to holding the opposition to just one goal in three matches.
Dejan Jakovic continues to play at the elite level that we always thought he was capable of reaching, while combining well with Brandon McDonald. None of these guys are perfect. Andy Najar and Chris Korb each made a fair share of mistakes tonight, but United always had coverage.
Thanks to the defense, for two games in a row now, one goal was all that this team needed to score.
That goal came from an attractive piece of footwork from Lionard Pajoy. The Columbian has an uncanny ability to wait until just about every United fan has turned against him before doing something brilliant. Don't look now, but Pajoy has played an important part in three of our last four goals.
And for once, the goal tonight didn't even involve Chris Pontius (who had a rare off night). While we're gaining confidence in the possibility of winning multiple games without Dwayne De Rosario, now we can see the possibility of winning without Pontius playing like Pontius.
I won't go on about our best 11 again tonight, because I may have been wrong about that. United doesn't just have 11 players who can contribute in our playoff quest. With Marcelo Saragosa healthy again, and with Boskovic, Lewis Neal, and Maicon Santos splitting time, we have at least a best 13. And Ben Olsen can vary the starting 11 from that 13 based on fitness, form, and matchup.
The team returns to the road again now with a match against the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
Hey, remember all that talk at the beginning of this season about how United hadn't won back-to-back games in multiple years? United is about to have its second four-game winning streak of the season.