Last time we played FC Dallas at venerable RFK Stadium, it was early in the year 2012. D.C. United had added names like Maicon Santos, Hamdi Salihi and Danny Cruz to the attack, along with first-round draft pick Nick DeLeon, to help returning guys like Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius and Branko Boskovic. A few games into the season, there was definite promise, but the attack hadn't really come together yet.
And early on, it didn't look like it was going to. Emiliano Dudar shut down for a couple plays, leading to an early chance for Blas Perez that only Joe Willis prevented from turning into a 1-0 lead. Even after Maicon Santos' laser-guided missile found the upper 90 of Kevin Harman's goal, Dudar still wasn't switched on, allowing (a very clearly offside) Perez in alone on Willis to tie the game at 1. But then, DC's young guns came out to play, led, strangely enough, by Danny Cruz.
Cruz is an interesting player. He's chaos personified - he's got enough skill to be dangerous, but mostly he does things half-intentionally and uses his nanosecond reaction time, sheer athletic ability and low center of gravity to stay on his feet and react to developing situations quicker than other players on the field. It's an alchemy that doesn't work all the time, but when it does, it's something to behold. In this game, we found that every time Danny Cruz hits the ground while in possession, United scores.
In the buildup to Nick DeLeon's go-ahead goal, Cruz has to put both hands on the ground to stay on his feet, and United go on to score. On his own goal, Cruz opted for a sliding finish. And on Santos' capper, Cruz fakes himself to the ground while facing up a defender - but he still manages to get back up and release the pass to DeRo for the cross. Stone cold law of nature: any time Cruz goes down, his team is about to score (at least in this game).
This game was the second of what would turn into a seven-match unbeaten streak, which included two 4-1 Ws, this one (obviously) and the fabled 4-1 dismantling of the Metros at a rainy RFK. Back in the present (future?), United are already carrying a four-game unbeaten streak and will try to push it to five this weekend.
What do you remember from this game in 2012? Anything you think Ben Olsen & Co. should take from 2012's truly breakout win as they look for 2014's? Let us know in the comments.