Patrick Mullins has had a rough 2017, but an incredible second half saw the forward score four times as D.C. United defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 4-0. Mullins finally scored his first goal of the season in the 57th minute, which was quickly followed up by the striker finishing off a hat trick by the 68th minute. Mullins then capped off his memorable night by bending a free kick into the lower corner in the 88th minute.
There were 25,229 in attendance on Saturday night, the largest crowd United has drawn this year, in their penultimate game at the stadium to see United’s first against the Quakes since 2014. Mullins tied the team record for goals in a game, which was previously accomplished three times. It was the first time in United’s history that a player scored four goals in one half of a game.
Head coach Ben Olsen made five changes to the team that disappointingly lost 3-0 to the Chicago Fire last weekend. The biggest change was in goal, where Steve Clark was given a chance to make his team debut, in place of Bill Hamid. Chris Korb was preferred to Chris Odoi-Atsem in the backline, with Korb at left back and Nick DeLeon on the right. Marcelo Sarvas replaced Ian Harkes, while Zoltan Stieber and Mullins replaced Lloyd Sam and Deshorn Brown.
United were the better team throughout most of the game, but had nothing to show for their relative dominance in the first half. Paul Arriola was the first to test keeper Andrew Tarbell in the 9th minute, but his effort from a Mullins knockdown was pushed wide.
Marcelo had a look in the 19th minute, as a nifty move created a pocket of space for the Brazilian outside the box. His shot was on target, but Tarbell was quick to get down to guide the ball away from danger. Mullins tried to pounce on the rebound, but was flagged for being offside.
United’s best chance of the half came in the 23rd minute, with a long ball played from Steve Birnbaum finding Korb on the left. Korb whipped a cross into the box, where Russell Canouse headed off of the post. Arriola was first to the rebound, but he bounced his shot over the goal.
Luciano Acosta had a long range shot in the 34th minute saved by Tarbell, and two minutes later, United continued to pepper Tarbell’s goal as Marcelo zipped a shot right by the far post. The Earthquakes had seven shots themselves in the first half, but none tested Clark, and his only real work was to push a quick free kick aside early in the game.
The Black-and-Red were camped out in the San Jose half to start the second stanza, and they finally got their breakthrough in the 57th minute. Acosta switched fields to Arriola out on the right. United’s big-money summer signing then sent an inch perfect cross in front of goal, and Mullins skated in behind a defender to knock home his first goal of the season.
The dam was apparently broken, and three minutes later, Mullins doubled his tally. A nice exchange of passes got United into the box, although the ball got away from Acosta. Fortuitously, the ball popped out to Arriola, who dinked the ball to the back post, where Mullins beat Kofi Sarkodie to head past Tarbell.
And then through a bit of fortune, Mullins completed his hat trick in the 68th minute. A knuckling long range free kick from Stieber seemed to confound Tarbell, as the keeper made an awkward save. The ball popped up into the air, just in front of the goal. Mullins was the quickest to react, and volleyed home from six yards out to complete an eleven minute hat trick.
San Jose couldn’t gain any traction offensively, and it seemed that the scoreline would hold up until the end. That is, until substitute Ian Harkes won a free kick just outside the box late on. With Marcelo and Lloyd Sam standing nearby, Mullins called his own number, curling a low shot around the Quakes wall and past the outstretched Tarbell, bulging the back of the net for his fourth goal on the evening.
United, with 31 points from 30 games, have two games in the upcoming week. First, they head to New Jersey to take on their bitter rival the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, before traveling on Saturday to take on Columbus Crew SC.