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D.C. United ride Pontius hat trick to 4-1 thrashing of New York

Pontius (Getty)


WASHINGTON — Last year, the New York Red Bulls traveled to RFK Stadium and handed D.C. United a 4-0 thumping, embarrassing their Atlantic Cup rivals in front of their hometown fans and a national TV audience.

United on Sunday reclaimed their home turf in emphatic fashion.

Riding a hat trick from revitalized midfielder-turned-forward Chris Pontius and another goal from rookie standout Nick DeLeon, United rolled to a 4-1 win over New York. With the rain-soaked triumph, D.C. moved to 3-2-3, extending its unbeaten streak to six games while leapfrogging the Red Bulls (3-3-1) for second place in the Eastern Conference.

"We talked about what they did to us last year here, losing 4-0," Pontius said. "We didn't forget about that."

For Pontius, who enjoyed a career year last season before breaking his leg in September, the stellar performance came after he spent much of the past month firmly planted on the bench, relegated to a reserve role as DeLeon thrived in his typical left-sided midfield position. As he put it, it was a "tough point."

But for the past three outings, coach Ben Olsen has used Pontius up top. After scoring the late winner as a substitute in a 2-1 victory at New England last weekend, Pontius earned a place back in the starting lineup for the two matches since.

And it's doubtful Olsen will be sitting him again anytime soon.

"He still doesn't know how to play forward, though," Olsen acknowledged. "That's the scary thing. He's still new at the position, and some of his movements can get a lot better. But three goals isn't too bad."

Pontius opened the scoring in the eighth minute, stripping New York captain Thierry Henry near midfield before dribbling at the Red Bulls back line and hammering a 20-yard shot past goalkeeper Ryan Meara.

The fourth-year player added his second tally in the 32nd minute, though strike partner Maicon Santos lent a notable supporting hand. The burly Brazilian evaded a triple team of Red Bulls defenders, walking the tightrope on the end line before sending a ball across the goalmouth.

As New York left back Connor Lade misplayed the service, Pontius was on the spot to clean up the mess from close range.

"Pontius was unbelievable," midfielder Danny Cruz said. "These last few games, him up top, he's doing all the little things right."

United continued the flurry four minutes later. Former Red Bull Dwayne De Rosario's centering feed found DeLeon, whose shot from the center of the 18-yard box deflected off New York defender Markus Holgersson and trickled in.

DeLeon, an early Rookie of the Year favorite, has three goals and three assists in seven games played.

"Last game, we had a slow start," DeLeon said, referring to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Montreal on Wednesday. "And that's what we preached really hard for this game. You can't afford to have that start. So we came out banging."

When Pontius wrapped up his hat trick in the 69th minute, he did so by evading a lazy challenge from Holgersson before rounding Meara and slotting a shot home.

There was nightmare defending throughout from the Red Bulls, who were playing without the injured trio of left back Roy Miller, centerback Wilman Conde and holding midfielder Teemu Tainio, as well as suspended defender-midfielder Rafa Marquez.

After Henry got New York on the board with his league-leading eighth goal of the season — an exquisite 72nd-minute free kick — the Frenchman simply walked back toward midfield with his head hanging low.

On this night, there was nothing worth celebrating for New York. This round of the Atlantic Cup belonged to D.C.

"New York came here with a bit of a watered-down team, and it showed at times," Olsen said. "We've got to take the win with a grain of salt. But I feel like we took advantage of that. That's what you have to do."


  1. exactly. also, there was a home Nats game. it ended up getting rained out, but either way, it was a pretty ok turnout given the Caps playoff game and the Nats home game combined with the god awful weather.

  2. Too bad that stadium is so ugly for soccer. I get the tradition and and the solis support. Why not rmodel and bring new fans and big matches to DC once again

  3. Actually, MiamiAl is closer to being right. The Park Service owns the land RFK is on, and the city has a lease that remains in effect while the stadium is in use. However, the stadium itself is owned by the city and managed by Events DC, which is the new name for the authority formerly called the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission.

    As for renovating RFK — There is almost zero chance of the city agreeing to downsize RFK in a renovation, when city leaders still dream of having a stadium with twice RFK’s capacity to bring back the Redskins.

  4. Uh, there were a lot of people under the over hang on both sides. The attendance figure of 13k was bad, but not unexpected given the torrential downpour that started on Saturday and continued for hours after the game. This combined with a Cap’s playoff game (played indoors btw)to make the attendance crappy. The Atlantic Cup has brought out crowds well above our 15-16k averages for the past threeish seasons. Prior to that we were a playoff team with one of the top attendance averages in the league.

  5. Backe and Soler rolled the dice with Holgersson and Conde, and so far they’re losing. Holgersson is indeed out of his depth. He was brought in to provide a big presence in the middle, but he is constantly out of position and scrambling. Conde is terrific, *when* he is on the field. Backe and Soler took another risk with Meara, and while he’s been OK, it’s clear that this shambles of a back line needs a veteran behind them. Conversely, a rookie GK might survive with a good, experienced back line. But RBNY have the worst of both worlds in the back. They will continue to bleed goals unless two miracles happen: Conde returns and stays healthy, and they find another central defender.

  6. Lade…abused. Poor little guy.

    Handball Henry needs to stop being such a baby. Gave away the ball at midfield on the first goal and then collapsed to the ground and started looking around waiting for a call from the ref.

    Red Stools had no fight last night.

  7. The truly amazing thing about this match is that Ryan Meara’s jersey didn’t have a drop of water on it, mostly because Holgersson hung him out to dry all night.

  8. As many fans have predicted we have seen in RB NY a major improvement of midfield and defense play without Rafa Marquez.

  9. Agreed. At any given moment, any MLS team has an “excuse” for a bad result (too much travel, player missing to national team callup or suspension, heat, road, injuries, other competitions diverting attention, bad referree, etc.). But Kinnear will watch the film. He’ll have his team putting much higher pressure on DCU and playing much closer (especially the backline). So if DCU can play coherent attacking soccer and generate some chances, that will be a huge step up for this team. I think they’ve got the individual talent to do it. Let’s see if the individuals decide to make it so.

  10. I think it’s too early to get really excited about DCU. The team clearly has talent. And maybe (with Dudar) the defense has gelled and won’t give up cheap goals that cost points (especially at the end of the half or the end of games). But the team’s two best outputs were against teams (FCD and NYRB) who were in bad form and gave them lots of space. Give DCU space and this bunch will make you look really bad. But the team has yet to show they can produce goals against an in-form team that plays tighter (especially on the front-line).

  11. As long as Backe keeps playing Holgersoon the Swedish Statue the team will continue to bleed goals. That guy is so out of his depth – how on earth did that guy ever get a chance with the Swedish NT is crazy.

  12. Do you speak Austrian? If not don’t bother. Until Red Bull stops making money (or another team comes to NYC) I don’t think they much care what’s going on this this side.

    Besides, I think you’ve got four bigger problems, that back line was positively man-handled. I’ve seen kids getting stuffed into lockers put up more of a fight than that Red Bull backline tonite.

  13. I want to hope that with NY’s backline restored after injury/suspensions they will surge forward again, I just don’t see it though. This team is showing all the signs of dysfunction that it did last year, sad part is that this year it is coming earlier in the season.

    Dysfunction is fostered by poor management, I have held off saying this the past few years but I am finally there. NY needs a major overhaul of their management (lose soler and Backe)and a strip down and rebuild of the team. Gonna be a rough few years whether this happens or not.

  14. A small problem: DC United doesn’t own RFK. And RFK stands on Federally-owned land. So even if DC United and the DC govt. agreed on some proposal to tear down/replace part of the stadium, they’d then have to get Federal approval (which appears to be an obstacle).


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