D.C. United Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: United Roll To 4-0 Victory Over Hapless Whitecaps

A goal by Chris Pontius and a great series of saves by rookie Joe Willis has helped D.C. United take a 1-0 lead at halftime at RFK.

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D.C. United's Chris Pontius Named MLS Player Of The Week

For the third straight week, a D.C. United player is named MLS player of the week as Chris Pontius takes the honors.

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D.C. United's Joe Willis Makes A Statement With Clean Sheet On Debut

After spending the entire MLS season on the first-team bench, United goalkeeper Joe Willis answered the bell against Vancouver Saturday night.

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D.C. United Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Player Ratings: Welcome To The Joe Willis, Chris Pontius, and Dwayne De Rosario Show

Grades for each D.C. United player's performance in the Black-and-Red's 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

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D.C. United Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Chad Ashton Praises "Game-Changer" Dwayne De Rosario

Lots to talk about after a very satisfying 4-0 win for D.C. United over the Vancouver Whitecaps tonight at RFK. Obviously, the biggest story of the game was the performance of Joe Willis, who made six saves and kept a clean sheet in his first-ever MLS first-team action. However, I'm saving all the Willis stuff for a feature that should be coming later tonight, so check back here often. On to other things.

D.C. United assistant Chad Ashton ran the sidelines with Ben Olsen serving a one-match ban after being ejected from last week's 3-3 draw against Toronto FC (Olsen watched the game from a box at RFK and was seen passing through the D.C. United locker room after the game), and he was pleased with the performance. "I don't remember the last time we had a game like that," Ashton said. Indeed, the last time D.C. United defeated an MLS opponent 4-0 was in 2007, when FC Dallas was put to the sword in Texas.

Ashton was full of praise for United's killer instinct, saying, "Earlier this season, we would have just dropped off, and said, 'OK, now we've gotta defend.' Tonight, we kept playing."

Dwayne De Rosario's performance, in which he recorded two assists and could have scored three goals, was considered particularly laudable by Ashton: "He's a game-changer," the coach said of the player, "a play here, a play there. In the second half they really started to converge on him with bodies and our guys did a good job running off him, and that created a lot of holes. Not only does he make plays, but other teams are so aware of him, he creates space just with his presence."

It was a good night for United on the out-of-town scoreboard as well, with 2-2 draws by New York (against Chicago) and by Philadelphia (against Dallas) bringing United within one point of third place (and an automatic playoff spot) in the Eastern Conference. Even better news is that United has played just 22 games, tied with Philadelphia for the fewest in the conference. It should be a very tight race over the final two months. 

The one sour note on the evening was the yellow card issued to Charlie Davies in the 60th minute for dissent. At least, it was dissent according to the official box score. The American international apparently said a few magic words to referee Hilario Grajeda when he did not award Davies a free kick on the halfway line (Davies was not available for comment after the game). In the locker room, United President Kevin Payne asked one of the United PR staff to check if Davies had suffered any fouls since being fined $1,000 for this piece of showmanship back on June 18 against Real Salt Lake.

I did a little digging for myself, and found that in six appearances since the fine, Davies had suffered six fouls. By comparison, Davies had suffered 11 fouls in 12 appearances prior to the fine. By straight averages, it seems pretty consistent. However, the foul calls do cluster on a game-by-game basis. For example, Davies has made five appearances (totaling 230 minutes) in games where he hasn't suffered a foul at all. But on the other hand, Davies has suffered three fouls in a game twice (April 29 at Colorado and July 16 at FC Dallas, on either side of the fine line, if you'll pardon the expression). It probably speaks more to the inconsistency of MLS officiating than any conspiracy on the league's part, but it will be worth watching down the stretch of this season.

OK, enough for now. Ratings and Joe Willis feature soon. United next play on Thursday night at the Chicago Fire. That match kicks off at 9:00 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.

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D.C. United Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Goals From Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, and Stephen King Lock Up Three Points

This time, D.C. United didn't falter at home. Second-half goals from Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, and Stephen King put the game out of reach of the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps, and the defense held out to give Joe Willis a 4-0 shutout win in his first-ever professional match.

United scored on their first major attack of the second half in the 48th minute. A long ball from United's own half by Santino Quaranta fell kindly to Najar, who raced to the end line and tried a tame-looking shot that somehow manaed to squeeze between the arms and legs of Jay Nolly and into the net to make the score 2-0.

That goal just about finished off Vancouver, who only had one good chance the rest of the evening. That came in the 66th minute, when Eric Hassli got on the end of a left-wing cross by Jonathan Leathers. However, Willis got across the goal mouth in plenty of time to block the point-blank chance. United almost had their third goal immediately following, but Dwayne De Rosario hit the post with a shot before firing the rebound high.

The third goal came with 70 minutes gone after a neat interchange of passes between Pontius, De Rosario and King. The passage appeared to end when King's shot was blocked by a Vancouver defender, but the rebound spun right to Pontius, who banged the ball into the open net via the underside of the crossbar. 

De Rosario, not King, should have bagged United's fourth with ten minutes left, but the Canadian could only redirect Marc Burch's left-wing cross high and wide from close range. King picked his teammate up on United's very next attack, when he was found unmarked in the center of the box and rolled the ball into the net with 81 minutes gone.

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D.C. United Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Chris Pontius' Goal Puts United Up 1-0 At Halftime

Chris Pontius' goal in first-half stoppage time has D.C. United up 1-0 on the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps as the Black-and-Red seek their first win at RFK since May 4.

Pontius' goal was made almost entirely by Dwayne De Rosario, who twisted and turned away from three Vancouver defenders before flicking a perfect cross across the edge of the six-yard area. The ball eluded the dive of Whitecaps keeper Jay Nolly and presented itself perfectly for a sliding Pontius to redirect into the net.

The home side had the most possession and the most chances early in the first half, and very nearly went ahead ten minutes in when Dwayne De Rosario, playing as a second forward alongside Charlie Davies, redirected a Chris Pontius ball just wide of the net. Four minutes later, after a cheap giveaway by Vancouver, Santino Quaranta -- making consecutive starts for the first time since April 9 -- raced forward and stung a shot that swerved just wide from about 35 yards out.

As the half wore on, however, United's attack began to run out of ideas, with Charlie Davies --in the starting lineup for the first time since July 20--particularly profligate with the ball up front. In fact, it was only through the intervention of rookie goalkeeper Joe Willis that United avoided falling behind prior to halftime.

In the 40th minute, Whitecaps striker Camilo Sanvezzo won a soft free kick about 20 yards from D.C. United's net. Willis dove as far as he could to his right and was able to deflect Camilo's shot upward and off the underside of the crossbar. In the madness that followed, Jordan Harvey had a chance blocked by Daniel Woolard, and both Jonathan Leathers and Gershon Koffie had chances at the loose rebound, but neither defender could get the ball over the kneeling Willis, who was eventually able to grab the bouncing ball and hold on.

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D.C. United Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: United Go In Search Of Elusive Home Win

United are still on the hunt for their first home win since May 4 as they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.

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