Union manager Jim Curtin said something after Saturday’s 4-1 rout of D.C. United that he and his predecessors have rarely been able to.
“Look, we’re confident, and it also needs to be said we’re good,” he said. “We have a good team.”
D.C. was obviously undermanned, but Curtin isn’t wrong. His team showed its quality in ways beyond just the four goals it scored. Here’s a look at some of the notable performances in the win.
The Medford native’s goal, the Union’s fourth of the game, was great, and crucially it was instinctive. Aaronson is often guilty of overthinking plays, but this time he just hit the ball in stride.
That play wasn’t his best of the game, though. In first-half stoppage time, he took a pass from Sergio Santos in D.C.’s 18-yard box, spun around United centerback Axel Sjöberg, then spun back the other way on midfielder Felipe Martins. Sjöberg recovered to block Aaronson’s ensuing shot, but the point was made. And Aaronson didn’t let up, tracking back defensively to press Martins and Junior Moreno.
Aaronson finished the night with 34 touches, three shots, three chances created, and 18-of-21 passing, and he even won two aerial duels.
He didn’t just score two goals from three shots. The Union’s leading scorer also created five chances and completed 20 of 25 passes in 63 minutes on the field.
This was just his seventh game for the Union in three seasons with the team, and his fifth start. The 23-year-old Cameroon native isn’t going to overtake Ray Gaddis on the right back depth chart soon, but he looked very good Saturday night. Mbaizo had 81 touches, third-most on the team; team highs of two tackles and three interceptions; and one clearance, one shot, and one aerial duel won.
He also completed 42 of 49 passes, including three of four long balls. One of those was a superb first-time pass that flew 63 yards to Kacper Przybylko, who went on to feed Brenden Aaronson for the Union’s fourth goal.
With Mark McKenzie given a well-deserved night off, Elliott returned to his old role of being a dominant passer. He recorded 86 touches and completed 66 of 73 pass attempts, the team’s best passing figures. Elliott also recorded three clearances, three aerial duels won, one tackle, one block, one interception, and one shot.
This was the first time he and Elliott started together and, given their respective skills, it was no surprise that they paired well. Glesnes finished the night with 63 touches, 50-of-56 passing, two interceptions, one clearance, one tackle, and one aerial duel won.
In just 45 minutes on the field, he recorded 37 touches, two chances created, three interceptions, one tackle, and one clearance, and completed 28 of 30 passes -- including all six long balls he delivered.
The knock on Creavalle is that he doesn’t contribute as much to attacking buildups as the other players at his position. Well, he did it plenty in this game. Of his 25 completed passes (from 27 attempts), 15 were in D.C.’s half of the field, and just three of them went backward over the halfway line.
His critics were quiet after the win over the Red Bulls, and they might be again this time. There were three rotations in the starting lineup, and for the first time all year he used all five substitutions.