Many individuals, including myself, have intimated that the turning point in DC United's season could be the team's win over AC Milan.
From a confidence standpoint, that makes a lot of sense. If United can defeat a top Italian club, then they should be able to beat MLS clubs too right? And the fact that they did it while playing a more aggressive attractive style couldn't have hurt either.
But I actually have a different turning point in mind.It caming during the Chivas USA match. DC played for 90 minutes. They did it as a team. And they did it with something close to their best lineup.
This match marked the end of Kurt Morsink's and Christian Castillo's all too comfortable stay in the starting 11. Chris Pontius, Santino Quaranta, and Dejan Jakovic are all returning from injuries, and Andy Najar has staked his claim on a starting role as well.
But the turning point came in precisely the 70th minute.
The score was knotted at 1-1. DC was looking to make a move at the top of the formation. Danny Allsopp was set to come off, and United prepared another forward to enter the match in his place.
Do they turn to the Godfather of Goals? To MLS's all-time leading scorer? Do they turn to Jaime Moreno?
No. They turned to Adam Cristman. And just six minutes later he was putting the ball in the net to give DC its first lead of the match, and only its second lead of the season.
Cristman's goal may have looked easy at first glance. It may have looked like he was just in the right place at the right time. But actually, there was a goalkeeper and two Chivas defenders who could have been in that right place at that right time instead of Adam Cristman. He didn't give up on the play. He finished his run and cleanly delivered the score.
That decision to insert Adam Cristman instead of Jaime Moreno was a key factor in this victory. It was a turning point because it was a departure from the past. Just like benching Morsink and Castillo was a departure from our early season struggles. If Coach Onalfo can continue to learn from what went wrong earlier in the year and what went right in our two victories last week, DC United might still have a chance this year.