United crushes Montreal 5-0, keeps playoff hopes alive
Wayne Rooney gathered a pass from a teammate early in the second half, then faked out a Montreal defender about 12 yards from the Impact goal.
The former English national captain then blasted a shot past Montreal keeper Evan Bush, giving the host side a 2-0 lead and sending a sellout crowd of 20,573 into a frenzy Saturday night.
Surging D.C. United more than made that lead hold up, scoring three more goals to crush the Impact 5-0 and improving to 8-2-1 at Audi Field since the venue opened in July. It was the most goals D.C. United scored in a match this season.
“We have a lot of confidence. It gives you more confidence,” Rooney said of the five goals.
“I don’t want to jinx us. But we are playing well,” said D.C. United goalie Bill Hamid, who came up with several big saves in the first half.
More importantly D.C. United improved its hopes for a playoff bid, which were jumpstarted when Rooney joined the club this summer. He now has seven goals and six assists in 15 matches with D.C. United.
The top six teams in each conference make the playoffs.
D.C. United (now 10-11-8, 38 points) remains seventh in the Eastern Conference, just back of sixth-place Montreal (12-15-4, 40 points).
“Oh man. Montreal is right above us,” Hamid said. “We went about our business the right way. You could see it was a physical match. Our sharpness was the key tonight.”
United’s next match is October 7 at 1 p.m. at Audi Field against the Chicago Fire, and the club has three more home matches after that. D.C. United ends regular-season play Oct. 28 at Chicago.
“There is a certain moxie about this group. Wayne brought some of that,” said Ben Olsen, D.C. United coach. “I like this group’s mentality.”
Rooney, who turns 33 in October, added another goal in the second half and Paul Arriola scored twice as D.C. United embarrassed a team ahead of them in the standings.
A pair of Argentinians teamed up for a goal in the 17th to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the first half.
Midfielder Luciano Acosta (three assists) scored his ninth goal of the season in the first half, as teammate Yamil Asad provided his seventh assist on the season for a 1-0 advantage
“We had to win this game. We won it,” said Acosta, through a team interpreter. “I feel like I am at a great level.”
Just four minutes after the goal, Hamid provided a stellar save, stopping a point-blank shot about 10 yards away from left-footed Bacary Sagna of Montreal.
Hamid, making his ninth start of the season, dove to his right and stopped the shot that could have tied the match.
A product of Annandale, Virginia, Hamid provided another save on a shot by Daniel Lovitz at the 39-minute mark and another by Samuel Piette five minutes later as D.C. United led 1-0 at intermission.
The home side had not played since September 16 and was 0-4-3 in the previous seven matches against the Impact. The teams tied 1-1 on August 4 in Montreal.
Montreal out-shot D.C. United 9-3 in the first half Saturday and had four corner kicks to just one for the hosts. The Impact controlled possession 62.6 percent in the first half and had 105 more total passes than D.C. United.
“It wasn’t a 5-0 game. If it was a boxing match it would have been pretty even,” Olsen said. “The bounces went our way. The officiating was on our side. The next thing you know it’s 4-0.”
It was a week ago that the baseball Nationals, playing just a few blocks away, were eliminated from postseason play. That didn’t happen Saturday to D.C. United in a near must-win match.