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Espindola double helps D.C. United trounce 10-man FC Dallas

Fabian Espindola

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WASHINGTON — D.C. United have put together a solid stretch of games over the last few weeks, but lacked a comprehensive performance to show the league that they can win with style.

On the strength of Fabian Espindola’s two goals and an assist, Saturday night’s 4-1 win over visiting FC Dallas may have been just that performance.

D.C. United team captain Bobby Boswell sees his team full of confidence as they ride a five-game unbeaten streak.

“I really feel like we can absolutely dominate teams from the beginning whistle until the ending whistle,” Boswell said after the game. “It’s gonna work, because of the guys we have here. You’re starting to see some of that.”

After FC Dallas, up 1-0, saw Zach Loyd sent off in the 39th minute for his second yellow, D.C. United came storming back in the heavy rain, scoring four unanswered goals—including three goals in an impressive ten minutes in the second half, to finish with a comprehensive 4-1 victory.

D.C United coach Ben Olsen, like many observers, saw Loyd’s red card as the catalyst for a dominating performance.

“I didn’t think there were many poor performances after we go up a man, but that happens a lot. But it’s not easy to break teams down when they sit back,” Olsen said.

FC Dallas opened scoring in the 14th minute, when Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez, and Mauro Diaz worked a set of quick passes back and forth to get Diaz through on goal. Perez’s layoff pass was superb, redirecting Castillo’s pass with a jumping heel. Diaz’s shoulder fake freed himself for the one-on-one opportunity.

D.C. United continued to push forward, but once again, failed to deliver the ball needed to break FC Dallas’s defense.

Opportunity arose for D.C. United in the 39th minute, when referee Fotis Bazakos showed Loyd a second yellow for a studs-up challenge.

D.C. United knew that playing up a man would mean that they’d have even more opportunities as the game progressed. D.C. United found their equalizer at the death of the first half, when Eddie Johnson’s superb cross from the right wing was headed home by Espindola.

FC Dallas had a difficult task ahead of them, and looked content to slow the game down in the second half, hoping to preserve the draw. FC Dallas Goalkeeper Chris Seitz received a yellow card in the 48th minute for time wasting.

FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja knew what D.C. United’s offense was capable of, especially having a man advantage. He stressed the importance of staying unified in defense during his halftime talk.

“We wanted to control the width of the field. We knew that they were going to get some numbers up, and it worked for a set time,” Pareja told after the game. “It’s a gamble in that moment. You are playing tactically, and they are sending numbers up. What you hope is that the guys can have some composure defensively, and that didn’t work.”

FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz said that his team was not just trying to see out the final 45 minutes.

“We still had confidence,” Seitz told after the match. “We had a good group of guys out there. We were obviously going to put defense first, and then try to get one or two chance to win the game. That was our mindset going into [the second half]. We weren’t playing for the tie.”

After FC Dallas’s defensive tactics frustrated D.C. United for fifteen minutes, D.C. United would find their go-ahead goal in the 60th minute, courtesy of team captain Bobby Boswell. As United continued to push forward, Jeff Parke redirected a cross to Conor Doyle. Doyle’s shot was blocked by Seitz, but the ball found its way to Boswell, who drove it home from 15 yards out. A great bit of play, and a fantastic drilled shot by Boswell.

Boswell liked his team’s output, but stressed the desire of D.C. United to score more goals while playing on equal terms with opponents.

“You need guys to disrupt the other team. We’ve got great service. I think I should have more goals than I do, to be honest,” Boswell said after the game. “We’ve got guys that make hard runs, [Espindola] hits a great ball, [Nick DeLeon] can hit a great ball, and we have a couple guys that really set us up well so we get good looks on goal.”

Like the clouds above RFK stadium, D.C. United continued to flood FC Dallas’s box with cross after cross. Espindola and Sean Franklin would push D.C. United to score two more goals in the next five minutes, courtesy of play down the left wing.

Espindola worked his way past a FC Dallas defender, and his short cross went directly to Sean Franklin, who casually tucked it home in the 65th minute.

As a defender, Franklin does not get many goal scoring chances, but gave full credit to Espindola for his opportunity to score.

“I was able to get forward. Fabian did a great job beating his guy, and put the ball in a great spot. That was a great ball,” Franklin said.

In the 69th minute, Chris Rolfe sprinted down the left, and delivered an inch-perfect pass along the ground to Espindola, who delivered a striker’s finish, slotting the ball past a beleaguered Chris Seitz.

Frustration reared its head in the 89th minute, as Michel was shown FC Dallas’s second red card of the night. After a sliding tackle, Michel elbowed D.C. United’s Chris Rolfe, and didn’t need to see the red before walking off the pitch.

The win is D.C. United’s third of the season, and extends their unbeaten streak to five games. FC Dallas’s loss is just their second of the season.

Next week, D.C. United travel to the Northwest to play the Portland Timbers on Saturday. FC Dallas return home to host the New York Red Bulls next Sunday.

Watch highlights of the match below:


  1. Glad I didn’t get the chance to watch this one…had to do a double take when I saw the final score, thought it would be the reverse…but Loyd trying too hard has probably just put the nail in his coffin for the starting spot going forward…at least until Acosta has a howler.

    Dust yourselves off and move on, you’re still (tied for) 1st.

    • Just watched the highlights, a few notes: Seitz, wtf? You’ve been awesome all season, looks to me like you should have been able to stop 2 or 3 of those goals. Loyd’s first yellow, very soft; Loyd’s second yellow – borderline straight red. Michel’s red – total BS…he did come in from behind but didn’t take the player out to get the ball, I can see it called a foul but he didn’t lunge like Loyd or show studs, no card warranted. There may have been a little swipe as Michel was getting back to his feet, but Deuce does that every game and he’s never called…didn’t see enough camera angles to get a definitive answer on that, and if I can’t tell by watching the replay then I can’t imagine that the ref was carding for that.

      With as much (especially last season) as we have the potential and propensity to be forced to play with a man down, you’d think that we’d be more adept at defending a lead with 10 men.

  2. Espindola looked dangerous. If he gets near 11 goals or so at 150k, DC did a good job at renegotiating his contract. I wonder what his salary demands is going to be next year?

  3. Wow.

    The commentators in that video were PATHETIC. That’s shameful. “Oh it looks high, but I don’t think he meant anything so it was soft. And the United player sold it.”

  4. I’m really liking the new refereeing. It going to allow the skilled players to shine, and make the play much more entertaining. Dallas should be able to adapt, with their skilled players , although some Dallas fans on the MLS site claim Castillo is looking pretty dense. That’s a shame if it’s true, he is very talented.

  5. Intriguing to see this DC team full of castoff players from other teams…. Espinola, Rolfe, EJ, Sean Franklin, Arnaud, Parke, … anyone else? what would be a good nick name for this bunch??

      • Put it this way: eSPINdola with his three goals is now behind only OwnGoal on last year’s scoring list. This isn’t a great team, but they’re beating the teams they should beat, and that first howler against Columbus aside, being aggressive against good teams. We’ll see what two weeks on the road brings.

      • he has 4 goals now, Yes more than the team leaders from last year,

        Yes they have as many wins as last year already and not even a third of the way through the season.

  6. good recap.

    who were the commentators? it seemed like they disagreed with both red cards, which is odd, because the calls were pretty obvious on replay.

    for the first, they kept saying that a studs-up tackle directly into a player’s leg wouldn’t have been called in another league; rather, that it was a product of mls’s new emphasis on player safety, or something? first of all, it wouldn’t have been a harsh straight red, much less a yellow. secondly, that’s a bad tackle no matter what league you’re in. no idea what they were talking about there.

    for the second red, the announcer even caught that the red was for the elbow to rolfe’s head, not the tackle. and then said that he’d ‘like to see a little more to be worthy of a red’. wtf


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