D.C. United's schedule was a meat-grinder in May, but June took it to another level. 8 games were jammed into 30 days, including a nonsensical 6 in 17 stretch to end the month. Only 3 of the games were at home, and United only played at RFK Stadium once after June 6th. While only half of the games were against current playoff teams, the lack of rest between matches necessitated a stark A-team/B-team approach just to prevent injuries from overuse.
Fabian Espindola has had a stop-start season due to his availability - and there's more "stop" coming up, sadly - but in June he showed what he means to United. Subbing on at halftime against the Chicago Fire, Espindola completely turned a game the Black-and-Red were losing, notching 2 assists and sparking a three-goal half for United. His next outing was not as impressive, but he still assisted United's only goal with a pinpoint corner kick. Espindola got his 4th assist of the month against New England, chipping a service from the endline across goal for Chris Rolfe to smash home. Espindola didn't set up Conor Doyle's spectacular game-winner in Chicago, but the scramble it came from followed his fine service from a free kick. United scored 7 goals in league play in June, with Espindola assisting over half of them.
Here's how our voters made their choice:
In the month of June, D.C. United scored seven goals in League play. Fabian Espindola was involved with four of them, and while he didn't get credit for the Doyle-lazo, by sending the free kick into the Chicago Fire area, he set the course of events in motion. And he only was coming back into the lineup after missing a month to injury. That he's only starting to regain chemistry with guys like Chris Rolfe and Luis Silva now makes for a potential scary thought.
Adam M Taylor
Injuries and the most masochistic schedule I've ever seen in MLS left Ben Olsen's side disjointed throughout the month, but one man's return from injury keyed the 10-point month for the Black-and-Red, and that's Fabian Espindola. He was a bit inconsistent, and rarely reached the top form we know he's capable of, but he was the biggest contributor to a successful month that could have gone horribly wrong without his creative presence.
For me, its Fabian Espindola; his creativity was important in all of United's league wins this month, and when he had no magic left, that was when other teams could eek out wins.
Every month I joke that Doyle is my player of the month, and while I could make the argument that he really does deserve it for June, I have to go with Fabian Espindola. The short of it is that D.C. United are a much better team when Fabi is on the field and feeling it, and without him, it's probable, even likely, that June would've gone terribly awry.
This is no easy task, as it seems there is no clear, standout guy. In the end, I think Fabian Espindola is June's Player of the Month. He may drift out of games at times and display emotion when he doesn't get the ball when he feels he should, but he scores goals, and sets guys up to score goals. It's pretty simple.
June had plenty of players helping out United's cause, without standing out for the entirety of the month. Andrew Dykstra's two game cameo at the beginning of the month - despite the loss to Toronto - was a welcomed sign, but Bill Hamid was his usual brick wall when he came back. Steve Birnbaum started getting back to his best when Olsen finally moved him back to centerback, and Luke Mishu, Markus Halsti, Conor Doyle, and Miguel Aguilar had their moments. But it's down to Fabian Espindola and Chris Rolfe -- both of who turned games around in United's favor in June. The edge goes to Espindola, who was more consistent over the course of the month.
And yours truly:
With eight games, just about every United player had a chance to make a difference. However, Espindola's play - particularly as a creator - was a big factor in several games. He might have only been the clear man of the match once in the eight games United played, but he was in the running several times. That consistency was something few other players could muster in June, so I'm going with the irascible Argentine.
Espindola got more votes this month than any other winner has gotten in 2015, but he didn't win on every ballot. Chris Rolfe maintained his streak of getting at least one vote every month, while Steve Birnbaum - who received four runner-up votes - was also given one POTM nod:
blazindw (voting for Rolfe)
In a move that will shock no one, my POTM is Chris Rolfe. When he's on, there's no one who can stop him and he singlehandedly brought us back against New England. Honestly, he's my MVP of the league so far.
touchline (voting for Birnbaum)
POTM is Steven Birnbaum, who spent the month of June getting back in top-notch form and foiling would-be strikers over and over, proving there will be no "sophomore slump" for last year's ROTY. Sebastian Giovinco will remember his rain-soaked face.
That's our take on the subject. What did you think? Should Rolfe or Birnbaum gotten a bigger share of the votes? What about Conor Doyle, who had his best month since signing with the club despite having to play significant minutes on very little rest? Let us know in the comments.