There are a massive amount of MLS teams that are still proving incredibly difficult to get a read on as to how relevant they are going to be throughout the year. Hence the enjoyment that we all get out of MLS. One such team is D.C. United. Playing in the cavernous RFK Stadium, United is looking forward to the building of their new stadium which is coming along nicely.
Until then, however, they are doing their best with what they have. Although, we’re not really sure what their best is.
D.C. came into the season with a mantra of being the tough guys. Adding bullying midfielders like Marcelo Sarvas only reemphasized that idea. While their defense was still coming together early on, a goalless draw against New England looked to be the forte of what this D.C. team could provide.
However, out of nowhere, United have won two of their last three with an aggregate scoreline of 7-1 in those three games, which includes a 1-0 loss. But these aren’t your typical blowouts. In fact, they are anything but typical. If you are of then habit of shutting off games in the 85th minute, you would have missed out on four of those seven D.C. United goals.
The capital-dwellers are showing a penchant for buffering their goal differential at the close of the game with two key substitutions, Luciano Acosta and Alvaro Saborio. It’s rather uncanny how effective these two have been in the dying embers of a game.
Luciano Acosta, the young and sprightly midfielder, lost out on the starting role after three starts. He has since made a substitute appearance in every match, however, and in the two big wins for D.C. United, he has contributed a goal and two assists in under an hour of play.
Acosta’s partner in crime, Alvaro Saborio, has been just as impressive. The 34 year old forward has contributed three goals and one assist, rounding off the rest of the four late goals that United have poached. Saborio has made five substitute appearances as well, but unlike Acosta, he has yet to start.
No one in MLS has combined better than these two substitutes.
There are several takeaways from this dynamic duo. First of all, it is clear that they prey on the weary legs of opposing defenses via the counter attack in moments when no one would expect the team to still be attacking. Call them opportunists. Second of all, they have yet to show this same ability when losing.
D.C. have been relying on Nyarko, Neagle and Espindola to provide the initial goals, but so long as they have the lead going into the game late, Ben Olsen has a fantastic thing going in building a hefty goal differential by sending more forwards on in a game that would normally call for more defenders.
To each his own. And to add another cliche, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.