Considering the blend of player embraces and fan exultation that engulfed RFK Stadium last weekend, one might get the sense D.C. United's playoff-clinching win over the Columbus Crew marked a mission accomplished, as far as the regular season goes.
As the final whistle blew, the waves of emotion washed away four years of frustration. Flags and flares emerged from the boisterous sea of black that filled RFK Stadium’s lower bowl. And as D.C. United’s players and coaches mobbed each other, Ben Olsen and Chris Pontius savored a long embrace.
For D.C. United, the math is simple: A win or draw in either of the team's final two games clinches a trip to the playoffs, vanquishing a drought that has plagued the club since 2007.
In Hamdi Salihi and Maicon Santos, D.C. United boast two accomplished strikers who have shown flashes of goal-scoring prowess this season, if not sustained success.
For the past 3½ months, Nick DeLeon has found himself running right up against the rookie wall. Those darting runs from the flank that came with such frequency earlier have been few and far between. Concurrently, his spot in the starting lineup became an uncertain proposition.
It'd been just over three months since Emiliano Dudar started a regular season game for D.C. United. On Saturday night, in front of 14,640 fans at RFK Stadium, the center back made his return to the lineup and played all 90 minutes of United's 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.
When coach Ben Olsen trotted out the starting 11 for D.C. United's season opener Saturday, it marked the first time his preferred lineup had played together outside the practice field. And it showed.
Eddie Gaven came off the injured reserve list and scored on a diving header to give the Columbus Crew a 2-1 over against D.C. United to end a six-game winless streak.
D.C. United built a reputation over the years for being a stylish team, noted for its possession game and passing ability. But at the heart of the club, there were always tough, hardworking and intelligent players such as Richie Williams, Ben Olsen, Josh Gros and Bryan Namoff stirring the team on through the good and the bad.
Nicolas Addlery scored two goals to lead the Puerto Rico Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy in the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions' League on Tuesday night.