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D.C. United pick up first road victory of 2018 with 3-1 win over San Jose Earthquakes

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Three goals in a splendid first half did the trick for the Black-and-Red

For the third consecutive game, D.C. United scored multiple goals on the road, and for the fourth consecutive game they scored in the first 15 minutes. But unlike the previous two outings, United finally made their goals count, toppling the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 for their first road win of the season. Zoltan Stieber opened the scoring the 15th minute, before the Black-and-Red created two goals from turnovers in the San Jose half.

Darren Mattocks scored his fourth goal of the season in the 20th minute, and Yamil Asad scored his third goal in the 38th as United scored multiple goals on the road in three straight road games, something they haven’t achieved since they put together five in a row at the end of 2016.

Danny Hoesen scored just before halftime to give the ‘Quakes some hope, but United did well enough in the second half to limit the home side’s chances. Mattocks had two golden opportunities to add to the lead in the second half, but couldn’t convert on either of them.

With Joseph Mora out due to suspension and Ulises Segura injured, head coach Ben Olsen was forced into a couple of changes from the team that lost 3-2 last week against Real Salt Lake. Oniel Fisher took Mora’s spot, swapping sides with Nick DeLeon in defense. Yamil Asad returned from the bench to start for Segura, giving United a first look of a midfield of Asad, Stieber, Luciano Acosta, and Paul Arriola. The four had previously been on the field together for just four minutes all year, back in the 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City in March. Olsen also opted for David Ousted in goal, his first appearance since March 31st.

The teams traded a couple of half-chances early on, but with the first real look of the game, United was ahead in the 15th minute. Acosta, who was unhappy with being taken out early last week after Mora’s red card, lifted a ball over the back line for Stieber. Stieber held off a challenge from Florian Jungwirth and poked a shot past Andrew Tarbell to give United yet another early lead.

Over the past couple of weeks, United have had some luck creating chances and goals with high pressure up the field. In the 20th minute, Acosta intercepted a pass from Vako to Jackson Yueill just outside the box. Acosta quickly played a pass into the box for Mattocks on the run. Mattocks sized up a shot, and passed the ball around Tarbell towards the far post for the 2-0 lead, the first multi-goal lead United has held this season.

Ten minutes later, Hoesen came close to grabbing his sixth of the campaign. Magnus Eriksson played Hoesen into space, and the Dutch striker got a shot off in front of a challenge by Steve Birnbaum, but the ball skipped mercifully just past the post. Youngster Chris Wehan had a chance from a free kick in the 36th minute, but his effort rose just over the bar from outside the box.

Two minutes later, and a rampant United had their third. Once again, the high press worked well for United, as Mattocks and Arriola dispossessed Yueill just outside his own box. Arriola quickly found Asad in space on the left side of the area. Asad was able to open his hips and one-time a curler towards the far post for a three-goal advantage.

United couldn’t quite make to halftime with that lead though, as Hoesen scored in the 43rd minute to make proceedings a bit more interesting. Collecting a pass from Wehan, Hoesen got into the box, and fired off a shot that was blocked by Fisher, with Ousted rushing off his line. The ball fell right back to the feet of Hoesen, who had the entire goal to aim for with Ousted recovering, and Hoesen made no mistake in finishing off the chance.

San Jose brought on Chris Wondolowski to start the second half, shifting from a 3-4-2-1 into a 4-4-2. But United were able to keep the game under control early in the half, and really should have gone back ahead by three in the 57th minute. With the Quakes stretched out, Arriola found a wide open Mattocks in the middle of the field. Mattocks’ first touch wasn’t the greatest, and the ball got caught at his feet, as Nick Lima quickly closed down. Mattocks still got a shot off, but Tarbell was about to make a diving save of what should have been the clinching goal.

After Wondolowski nodded a Jungwirth cross wide, Stieber had his crack at a second. He started the move, feeding Arriola on the overlap in the box. Arriola passed right back to an unmarked Stieber, who couldn’t direct his one-timed effort onto goal, sparing San Jose.

Moments later, San Jose had another opportunity, as substitute Quincy Amarikwa won a header in midfield. Eriksson quickly picked up the ball, and played out wide to Vako on the left. Vako tested Ousted from just outside the box, but the big Danish keeper had sure hands, securely grabbing the shot to prevent any follow up efforts.

In the 69th minute, Mattocks once again had an opportunity to put the game out of reach. Acosta played Mattocks beyond the back line with only Tarbell to beat. At the crucial moment though, Mattocks slipped, and he could not recover. Arriola had a follow-up attempt, but that was blocked by the retreating Quakes defense.

Mattocks was subbed out for Mullins, but the his last action in the 71st minute nearly created a fourth United goal. Mattocks once again got behind the San Jose back line, and slid a pass through the box. Stieber was on the other end, and smashed a shot towards goal that beat Tarbell, but was saved off the line by Jimmy Ockford.

By that time, it seemed like a longshot for the Earthquakes to get back into the game. They had a couple of chances in the last 10 minutes, but Amarikwa, Wondolowski, and Eriksson either missed or were stopped by a routine Ousted save.

The Black-and-Red then successfully bled out the three minutes of stoppage time, giving them three points on the road for the first time in eleven tries.

Now with 8 points, United will stay out on the West Coast this week before traveling to the City of Angels to take on expansion side Los Angeles FC for the first time ever.