D.C. United appeared, at least temporarily, to have learned the lessons of Wednesday's inglorious 2-2 draw against Chivas USA, as they saw out a 4-0 win over a Real Salt Lake team that had been well and truly beaten by halftime after Dwayne De Rosario's first-half hat trick, officially confirmed by the Elias Sports Bureau as the fastest from kick-off in MLS history (31 minutes).
The result was emphatic, but it was not enough to move D.C. United into the MLS playoff places, as New York's 2-0 home win over Portland kept United on the outside looking in. However, the Black-and-Red still hold two games in hand over Hans Backe's men.
After their resident MVP candidate had put them in an impregnable position before halftime, the home side pressed for more goals after the break. Andy Najar could have scored a second five minutes into the second half, but miskicked his attempt badly. Four minutes later, Stephen King had a try from distance. His shot sailed over the crossbar, but only just. An ideal way to top off the night would have been a goal for Joseph Ngwenya, but his 68th minute attempt from a tight angle was well saved by Nick Rimando.
Real Salt Lake had managed a couple good chances for the break. Nat Borchers saw one headed chance sail wide of the goal, while another was tipped away from the top right corner by Bill Hamid. Arturo Alvarez and Pablo Junior also saw chances miss wide and be saved, respectively. But the visitors showed little enterprise in the second half, with the exception of an 84th-minute attempt by Chris Wingert that sailed just over.
However, Real Salt Lake were able to snatch a consolation goal in the 86th minute when substitute Alvaro Saborio slipped behind the home defense and was found by Paulo Junior. The Costa Rican finished well into the roof of Bill Hamid's net in what was the last significant action of the game.
It took all of 31 minutes for Dwayne De Rosario to collect three goals and an assist as D.C. United lead 4-0 at halftime against a largely second-choice Real Salt Lake side. The three goals give De Rosario 13 on the season (10 in a D.C. United uniform), good for the MLS lead.
The Canadian international played the helper on United's first goal in the 13th minute, splitting the visitors' defense with a perfect pass that found Andy Najar. The Honduran international used his pace to stay ahead of the chasing defenders before finishing emphatically to Nick Rimando's left.
Then the real show began.
De Rosario hardly had to do anything on his first goal in the 22nd minute, as Najar produced a beautiful arcing cross from the right wing. All De Rosario had to do was glance the ball into the net, and he did just that from about ten yards out with his head.
Five minutes later, De Rosario put United up 3-0 with his second goal. A loose ball from the right was touched into De Rosario's path by his strike partner Josh Wolff, and De Rosario curled the ball past a helpless Rimando from about 25 yards afield.
But the first two markers paled in comparison to De Rosario's third goal, which came from a free kick that had been set up about 30 yards away from goal and was a right-footed strike that curled into the top right corner of Rimando's goal.
Real Salt Lake came back into the game in the last few minutes of the half, but the damage had been done and De Rosario had stolen the show.
Jason Kreis has made eight changes to the starting lineup that defeated New York Red Bulls 3-1 on Wednesday night in New Jersey. Kyle Beckerman returns to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, while both parts of the strike partnership of Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio will start the match on the bench. As expected, Javier Morales has recovered enough from a broken left ankle to make the bench.