With their 1-0 win against Chivas USA on Sunday, D.C. United strengthened their playoff chances. United moved into a tie for third in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Going into this week of play, United was in fourth place in the East, just a single point ahead of the Houston Dynamo for fifth and two points ahead of the Columbus Crew who are on the outside of the playoff picture. The three points United earned by knocking off Chivas USA, combined with losses from Houston and Columbus, gave D.C. some much needed breathing room.
The United are now five points ahead of the Crew with each team having four more regular season games to play. The two teams will play each other in the second-to-last regular season game of the year. The win, coupled with a tie by the New York Red Bulls moved United into a tie for third place. Both D.C. and New York have four games remaining.
Publicly criticized by his coach, repeatedly subbed out just barely into the second half, and now finding himself on the bench to start the match. Many players would mope, or beg to return home where the playing time comes easier. That's not what Boskovic did though. He kept fighting for minutes, and when deployed in an unfamiliar advanced role, he earned himself a goal and his team a win.
Less noticed but as notable in Shatzer's eyes was the D.C. defense, which has only allowed a single goal in in last three matches in front of goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
This three-game winning streak hasn't been pretty and hasn't come against the most spectacular of opponents, but with three close matches, the winning streak wouldn't have come at all without a steady defense.
D.C. now has 50 points, four ahead of the Houston Dynamo, which sits in the final playoff spot, and five ahead of the Columbus Crew, which is the last team out.
The Montenegrin replaced Maicon Santos in the 57th minute. Just seven minutes later, Boskovic stooped down to head a low cross from Lionard Pajoy into the lower right corner of Dan Kennedy's net.
The goal was Boskovic's first for United. It had taken the former Rapid Vienna man 39 MLS regular season games to record his first tally.
The win moved D.C. United level on points with third-place New York Red Bulls in the MLS Eastern Conference standings (New York has scored three more goals than D.C., which is the first tiebreaker in determining the order of the MLS standings). United moved four points clear of fifth-place Houston -- who lost earlier Sunday to Philadelphia -- and five points ahead of sixth-place Columbus. The top five teams in each conference will make the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs.
United travel to the West Coast next weekend to play the Portland Timbers. Kick-off of that game will be Saturday at 10:30 p.m.