D.C. United traveled to Sporting Park and razed Sporting Kansas City, usurping the top spot in the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield from the reigning MLS champions.
The clash between the two titans was that the team with the most possession isn’t necessarily the better side. SKC controlled the tempo of the game and moved the ball around with relative ease, but dreadfully defended their goal.
D.C.’s adept attackers saw a chance to capitalize on their opponents woeful defending and they did so in ostentatious fashion.
MVP candidate Fabian Espindola scored a brilliant goal to begin the onslaught, and Chris Rolfe and Perry Kitchen also got in on the act with easy finishes.
Benny Feilhaber looked sharp in the early goings, forcing Bill Hamid to make a save in the ninth minute. SKC’s No.10 picked up the ball 30 yards away from, was allowed to advance and he took advantage of the space by firing a low-driven shot that needed saving.
A few minutes later, Hamid had to be alert, this time to corral Soony Saad’s long range effort.
As the game settled down, D.C. saw more of the ball and asked a few questions of SKC’s defense. However, a Steve Birnbaum header that flew over the post was their best chance, until the 24th minute.
Espindola, D.C.’s top scorer and best player this season, broke the deadlock with a magnificent solo effort. The Argentine forward garnered the ball on the left flank, sidestepped his defender, dribbled to the edge of the box and perfectly placed his shot in the far corner of Jon Kempin’s goal.
The boos rained down in the 28th minute as SKC’s defender fell asleep, allowing Rolfe to sneak in behind them and score D.C.’s second of the night. The former Chicago Fire forward made a great run, was expertly picked out and he had no trouble scoring his sixth goal of the season.
Two minutes later, SKC’s defense dosed off and DC made them pay, again. On a counter-attack, defensive midfielder Kitchen was superbly picked out in acres of space. The 22-year-old lost his defender with an ornery cutback and calmly slotted the ball past a helpless Kempin.
DC began the second period on the front foot with Luis Silva coming very close to scoring their fourth of the game. The attacking midfielder was superbly set up by Rolfe, but his shot from the top of the box rattled off the post.
Moments later, Kempin had to swiftly come off his line to save Rolfe’s shot.
Graham Zusi lifted the spirits inside Sporting Park with a right-footed thunderbolt that bounced off the crossbar.
With the second half winding down, Dom Dwyer tested Hamid with a header, which the goalkeeper acrobatically saved.
Former Seattle Sounders forward David Estrada had a golden opportunity to open his DC United account in the 82nd minute after being played into a dangerous position. Estrada did all the hard work by accelerating past his defender, but he fired his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
In the dying minutes of the game, a United player hit the woodwork for the second time in the game. Another defensive miscue gave Espindola a chance to operate in space. The Argentine picked up his head and chipped a delightful ball to Estrada, but his first-time volley was stopped by the post.
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