It's actually really bad and more than just a little bit embarrassing that this feels a little bit like Christmas, but screw it. I'm excited that D.C. United finally won a game. Thanks to a strong second half performance from goalkeeper Bill Hamid and an 11th minute penalty from Chris Pontius, the Black-and-Red are 1-0 winners tonight over the defending Supporters' Shield Champions. Now, granted, the San Jose Earthquakes were shorthanded without the services of defending Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski or MLS bad boy Steven Lenhart, and they can be fairly described as a shell of their 2012 selves, but a win is something United have managed only one other time in 15 other games in the league this season, so I'm taking this game and running with it.
D.C. went ahead early - and deservedly held the lead at halftime. A spell of good possession and build up - in fact, a solid passing move - led to Chris Korb beating Justin Morrow inside the San Jose box, and the Quake defender took down United's Akron product. After a delay to ensure no advantage developed, referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the spot, and Pontius converted, sending Jon Busch the wrong way to open his account for 2013.
A play later in the first half may have the MLS Disciplinary Committee calling Alan Gordon next week, as the San Jose striker appeared to hit Ethan White in the head with his elbow or forearm well after the United central defender cleared a ball. Jair Marrufo did not call a foul on the play, indicating that United held the advantage. A quick United turnover while White still lay on the field holding his head forced John Thorrington to commit a hard foul to stop the play, however, earning the D.C. captain (in lieu of Dwayne De Rosario, who spent the night on the bench) a yellow card. White would leave the game just minutes later, and Gordon would receive no additional discipline during the game. (The MLS highlight package, just above this paragraph, only shows the play once, but it looks like it was potentially a cheap shot by Gordon, and it obviously resulted in a forced substitution for Ben Olsen & Co.)
The second half was not as good as the first for United. San Jose pressured Hamid's goal for most of the 45 minutes, with the home side content to look for chances on the counter. Chances that were few and far between. But all the Earthquakes could muster were a few skied chances and an Adam Jahn shot off the outside of the post. In the end, the Quakes could muster just 3 shots on goal, and United were good enough to claim three points for just the second time in 2013.
Less fortunately for United, both Ethan White and left fullback (slash central midfielder) Alain Rochat left the game injured. Hopefully they'll both be able to return to action quickly, but we'll have to wait to hear more on their status in the coming days. The Black-and-Red will next be in action on Wednesday, in U.S. Open Cup play against New England at the Maryland Soccerplex. Let us know your thoughts on the performance tonight in the comments.