DC United cruised to a 3-1 victory against in-form Chivas USA in Major League Soccer on Sunday.
Eddie Johnson’s first-half penalty was added to by Perry Kitchen and Luis Silva at RFK Stadium, handing the Black-and-Red their first home success in three attempts.
It was a big night for Bill Hamid in net, making his 100th MLS appearance, but he was rarely tested by a thoroughly underwhelming Chivas side, their only goal coming from Erick Torres’ spot-kick.
Conference standings betrayed the difficulty of the test that the Open Cup holders had expected here. DC may be eager to gain an invite to the previously exclusive Supporters’ Shield title race that has recently opened its doors a smidge, but four consecutive wins had brought the Red-and-Whites into play-off contention for the first time this year.
There was little quality in the game’s opening, with both Hamid, also celebrating an All-Star induction, and Dan Kennedy keeping an early watching brief. Fellow pick Torres managed a scuff and an inaccurate thump as the Goats registered their first shots on the board.
This proved to be a catalyst for United to attack, Johnson to show some classy touches and Silva to drive at Kennedy.
However, both sets of players seemed to have lost their patience with a dreary pace by the 14th minute, optimised by Oswaldo Minda’s clumsy penalty-area shove on Chris Rolfe. A sharp whistle later and Johnson was crushing the ball beyond the goalkeeper. Regardless of the nature of his goals, the ex-Fulham forward is showing flashes of the form that took him to the capital.
The strike only encouraged attacking football, and rather than hide behind their advantage, the Black-and-Red pressed further. Uninterested in sitting back though, the Los Angeles outfit were only being kept at bay by an assortment of blocks and clearances when Johnson almost added a second, thundering a header against the cross-bar.
If Kennedy had been a mere bystander as the United States international peppered his goal-frame, he was crucial in denying Rolfe after the 31-year-old had blitzed past several visiting players.
Then, with half-time approaching, Eriq Zavaleta extended his neck to loop over his despairing stopper and nick the same few inches of metal-work that Johnson had clattered. Stunned, but relieved, Wilmer Cabrera’s men retreated to RFK’s away dressing room.
After the break
The first period had increasingly become an examination of the credentials of Chivas’ rickety back-line, and the interval did little to stem the flow.
In front of Hamid, Torres missed the target and was quickly punished. Johnson nodded down a deep free-kick and the ball sat up nicely for Kitchen to bray beyond Kennedy.
A tame Agustin Pelletieri effort trickled wide in the Red-and-Whites’ single disappointing response, before Silva added a third. Chris Korb threaded a pass through to the Californian, who made light work of shrugging off Carlos Bocanegra and found the far corner with ease.
With United now confident of the three points, they relaxed, and Steve Birnbaum was drawn into a foul on Mauro Rosales that again had referee Fotis Bazakos pointing to the spot, and Torres scoring. An apparently illegal run-up went unpunished, and “Cubo” slotted in his sixth in six matches.
The remaining seven minutes, plus stoppage time, passed without incident, ending Chivas’ run and propelling the hosts to within touching distance of the division’s summit.