Could they really have been in Montreal the whole time? After spending much of the first half of this season wondering where the "real" Luis Silva and Nick DeLeon were hiding - these shadows on the field must surely have been imposters! - D.C. United fans on Wednesday night were reminded of the quality the two can bring as the Black-and-Red beat the Montreal Impact, 4-2.
The first half provided all six goals, the first coming in just the sixth minute. Chris Rolfe turned away from a challenge outside of Montreal's box and found Fabian Espindola, who slid a ball past the Impact defense and into the path of Luis Silva. The former Toronto FC attacker punished the defensive lapse, slotting the ball through Troy Perkins' legs and into the back of the net.
United's lead would be short-lived, though, as Jack McInerney got on the end of a counterattack, sprung by a gorgeous through ball from Hassoun Camara, and managed to wrong-foot both Bobby Boswell and Andrew Dykstra (starting for the injured Bill Hamid) to level the match. Again, the score would stand for only a short time, Andres Romero taking advantage of his own industry and a couple defensive miscues to put the Impact up 2-1.
But in a half of quickly scored goals, the next one was the quickest, as Fabian Espindola rewarded Nick DeLeon's long sprint from the right sideline with a perfect low cross from the left, which the Louisville product neatly turned past Perkins to put United back on level terms with the hosts. A long-range golazo and a penalty from Silva to finish out the half provided the final margin, neither team finding the net after halftime.
But that doesn't mean there was no action. Perry Kitchen had a shot cleared off the line following a corner kick, and Patrice Bernier missed a penalty.
The win pushes los Capitalinos to the top of the Eastern Conference, a midseason turnaround that is sure to have neutral fans asking, "Wut?" This was each team's final match in league play before MLS' two-week World Cup break. United will return to action, though, on Tuesday June 11, as they go on the road to defend their 2013 U.S. Open Cup title against the Rochester Rhinos of USL PRO.
- Silva certainly made up for that subpar performance against Columbus over the weekend. It's good to see Silva return to form and reward Ben Olsen for having faith in him.
- Neither Eddie Johnson nor Bill Hamid traveled with the team, both staying home to nurse knocks they picked up against Columbus.
- Speaking of absences, a pretty iffy yellow card issued to Davy Arnaud late in the game Wednesday has earned the former Impact captain a one-game suspension for accumulation. I would also expect Fabian Espindola to be getting a phone call from the Disciplinary Committee for his ill-advised (if cathartic) swipe at Felipe Martins' ankle during a stoppage in play. Look for United to have to go at least one, and possibly up to three games without their leading scorer once the league returns from the break.
- Oh, and about Felipe. What a tool that guy is. Hopefully PRO and MLS see the number of dives and unwarranted calls he "earned" (not to mention the cheapshot on Espindola at the opening whistle) and keep a closer, more critical eye on him going forward. Seriously, what a tool.
- Perry Kitchen is never to miss a game again. Our midfield is better with him in it, period.
- Things are less clear on the forward line, where it looks more and more like Eddie Johnson doesn't fit well into the tactical arrangement. Of course, the two games he's been out have been the two games that United play the style most suited to his game, keeping the ball on the ground and building up to chances inside the 18. Go figure.
- And finally, Steve Birnbaum will bear some of the blame (along with Sean Franklin) for Montreal's second goal, but aside from that he had another strong performance in just his second MLS match. It took nearly half a season to show it, and it's still a very small sample size, but he's looking like a guy worthy of the second overall draft pick.
That's it from me. Share your thoughts on the win down in the comments.