In a game against two playoff hopefuls, D.C. United stomped all over the Montreal Impact, winning 5-0 on Saturday night. In front of an announced sell-out crowd of 20,573 at Audi Field, the Black-and-Red scored four times in the second half to move within two points of the Impact in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Luciano Acosta stole the night by opening the scoring in the first half, and then adding three assists in the second half. Wayne Rooney and Paul Arriola both scored twice as United tallied their most goals in a game this season.
Two weeks after trying out a back three in the first half against the New York Red Bulls, head coach Ben Olsen reverted to his preferred 4-2-3-1 against the Impact. Yamil Asad was handed his first start since returning from an ankle injury, and Oniel Fisher returned to the starting lineup, replacing Jalen Robinson.
Montreal, known for sitting deep and countering, came out and controlled the ball for most of the first half against United, keeping hold of almost 63% of possession, and attempting over 100 more passes than their opponents.
That resulted in a couple of chances before United’s opener, with a dangerous Alejandro Silva cross deflected into Bill Hamid’s hands in the 10th minute. Hamid then claimed a long range shot from Saphir Taider in the 14th, and Quincy Amarikwa couldn’t keep a header on target two minutes later.
United up to that point had just a speculative shot from Junior Moreno to their credit, but took the lead in the 17th minute thanks to Acosta’s 9th tally of the season. Acosta forced the ball away from Taider in the Impact half, with the ball going to Asad. Asad quickly returned the ball to Acosta in the box, and the Argentine blasted a pinpoint shot across the face of goal, beating Evan Bush.
Hamid had to come up big in the 21st minute to preserve the advantage though, denying Bacary Sagna an equalizer. Amarikwa got the ball on the left flank, and found an opening to cross into the box. His pass on the ground found Sagna open, but the right back’s shot was held by Hamid.
Brillant had to block a shot from Micheal Azira in the 32nd minute, as United couldn’t completely clear a corner from Taider. At the other end a minute later, Paul Arriola forced a turnover in the box, but before Rooney could pounce, Montreal got the ball out wide, and though United retained possession, a shot never materialized.
In the 35th minute, a free kick from Rooney found Steven Birnbaum towards the back post. The center back sent the ball back in front of goal with a header, but an intervention from Daniel Lovitz denied Russell Canouse a chance to add to the lead.
Montreal had two more chances late on, but a long range shot from Samuel Piette was saved by Hamid, before Joseph Mora put Azira off just enough to force a shot over in the 44th minute.
The Black-and-Red wasted no time in the second half adding to their lead, with their English talisman netting his sixth goal since his July arrival. Asad got the ball out on the flank to Acosta, who found Rooney running towards goal. Rooney made a nifty move on Rudy Camacho at the top of the box to open some space, before rifling a shot past Bush at the near post for the two-goal advantage.
Montreal had a couple of chances to get back into the game shortly after, but the proceedings were wrapped up in the 62nd minute when Arriola scored his sixth goal of the season. Rooney played the ball into the box for Acosta, who instead of shooting, laid the ball across the goal for Arriola, who raced in to slide home to make it two straight games with a goal.
Amarikwa couldn’t take advantage of a bad turnover right after that goal, and then Lovitz hit the bar with a free kick just outside of the box in the 71st minute. Amarikwa once again had a chance in the 74th minute, but a strong hand from Hamid pushed the shot over.
That set the stage for United to confirm their second half dominance over the Impact. In the 74th minute, Acosta burst out of midfield towards goal, and then found Arriola in the box. The ball took a deflection off of Arriola, but stayed in his path, allowing the winger to clip an angled shot over Bush for the four-goal lead.
And four minutes later, Rooney got his second goal of the night, thanks to some hustle from Arriola. The US international tried to chase a long ball down, forcing Bush to race off his line. Bush won the race, but his clearance went right to Rooney, who calmly looped the ball into the empty net for a stunning five-goal lead.
Ulises Segura, who came on in the second half for Asad, nearly made it six in the 89th minute, only to be denied by a strong save from Bush. A couple of late shots from Montreal didn’t threaten Hamid’s goal, as United held on for their third clean sheet of the season.
United, now with 38 points from 29 games, are back in action next Sunday, hosting the Chicago Fire.