WASHINGTON — With help from returning international and injured players, D.C. United completed a 2-1 comeback win at home Wednesday against Minnesota United.
After going down a goal early in the second half, D.C. coach Ben Olsen made a crucial change by adding in Jamaican international Darren Mattocks.
“The game needed energy,” Olsen said. “The game needed a threat.”
Olsen subbed in the forward — fresh off two goals in Jamaica’s 4-0 win against Cayman Island — for defender Kofi Opare. Olsen switched his squad from a 4-3-2-1 formation to a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Mattocks as the lone striker.
The change paid off in the 69th minute when the home team found an opening on the left side of the pitch. Midfielder Luciano Acosta cleared a ball up to defensive winger Joseph Mora.
Mora exploited his 1-on-1 battle against defender Carter Manley, who entered the game in the 14th minute for injured centerback Jerome Thiesson.
With Manley tripped up, Mora sent a ball in front of the Minnesota net. Mattocks quickly finished the cross to give D.C. the lead. Mattocks is D.C.’s leading goal scorer with 10 goals despite his transition to super sub with the arrival of Wayne Rooney.
“It is good to get more than 10 minutes off the bench for once,” Mattocks said. “But it is not about me.
“When you have depth like we have and someone like me leading the team in goals and coming off the bench, you’re gonna need [energy]. It is a total team effort.”
Contrary to the second half, D.C. spent most of the first half on defense. The home team handled two shots from Minnesota captain Darwin Quintero and four shots from forward Angelo Rodriguez.
“I thought they had a little more zip and I thought they were in a different gear in the first half,” Olsen said. “The goal woke us up.”
That Minnesota goal came a minute into the second half. Within seconds of the restart, Quintero made another run into D.C’s penalty box. Defenders Steve Birnbaum and Opare quickly closed in on the playmaker, leaving Rodriguez open on the left side. His first shot bounced off of Opare, but Rodriguez caught his own rebound, alluding goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
“We respect the opponent, especially how dynamic their attack is,” Olsen said. “[They score] transition goals where you are not sharp in the moment and then ‘bang.'”
Rooney and Acosta played major roles in D.C.’s attack, but were shut down by Minnesota’s defense. Without midfielder Yamil Asad on the wing, D.C. turned to less-used options for the equalizer.
In the 65th minute, D.C. captain Rooney passed a ball off to Acosta, who quickly fed it back in front on Minnesota’s goal. Rooney dummied the reception, allowing a ball through to midfielder Ulises Segura, who quickly turned and shot on goal, giving D.C. the equalizer. The goal was Segura’s second of the season and first since April.
“Once your number is called, you have to take it,” Mattocks said. “We have a really good squad and really good depth.”
There was a scary moment for D.C. fans in the second half when Hamid, who had three saves on the night, went down with an apparent knee ailment. After minutes on the ground and assistance from the training staff, Hamid played the remainder of the match.
“I think he will be ok. I haven’t evaluated him,” Olsen said. “He got through the game, which is a good sign. We will just have to see what is up with him tomorrow.”
D.C. withstood Minnesota for the 20 minutes following Mattocks game-winning goal to secure its first win of a seven-game home stand before its final match of the MLS regular season Oct. 28 on the road against the Chicago Fire.