Despite another less-than-stellar performance from D.C. United, the team came away with a 1-0 victory against Chivas USA Sept. 23 at RFK Stadium.
With four games left in the regular season, United (15-10-5) sits in a tie with the New York Red Bulls for third place in the Eastern Conference. Going into the final stretch of the season, the club has stacked up good results while trying to reestablish its status as a powerhouse in the conference.
D.C. United dominated the first half but was unable to convert its chances into goals. The defense was strong though, and Chivas (7-15-7) didn’t get a shot off until the 36th minute. Another good performance from 21-year-old goalkeeper Bill Hamid helped United on its way to victory.
The majority of D.C. United’s opportunities on the night stemmed from the brilliant play of defender Andy Najar. Controlling the midfield, Najar found plenty of space on the wings, and the 19-year-old Honduran took full advantage. He created chance after chance, but the recipients could not find the back of the net.
The breakthrough for the squad finally came in the second half. Looking to break the frustration of missed opportunities, United head coach Ben Olsen brought on Branko Boskovic in the 57th minute. His impact was instant.
In the 64th minute, Lionard Pajoy broke away from defenders on the wing and put a sublime ball into the box. A sneaky Boskovic crept in and put a head to it to give United the 1-0 advantage.
Boskovic came to D.C. United in 2010 as one of its designated players and after the long wait, finally scored his first goal with the team.
The Montenegrin had a point to prove after coming off two consecutive unimpressive displays and being substituted for early in both games.
“I spoke with Ben; I [have a lot of] respect for him,” Boskovic said. “This is normal in [your] career; you have moments like this. I just try and help my team.”
The previous weeks have tested the coach-player relationship between Olsen and Boskovic.
“To me, that’s just a guy that wants to be on the field and wants to win,” Olsen said of Boskovic. “I thought his attitude all week has been good.”
Three weeks ago, United feared missing the playoffs. Now, the team is only five points out of first place in the East.
Riding a three-game winning streak, United will look to continue its strong play when it takes on the Portland Timbers Sept. 29 at Jeld-Wen Field.