D.C. United kicked off their post-Hernan Losada era with a stunning 3-2 triumph over the New England Revolution at Audi Field.
Interim head coach Chad Ashton stepped up, returning to the helm for the first time since taking over for Ben Olsen in October 2020 to snap the team’s four game losing streak.
Many were confident Ashton could lift D.C. to form after working with the club for over 15 years, and the 3-2 victory justified these predictions.
"Huge. I mean, absolutely huge,” Ashton said postgame about the result.
"I was worried when we conceded the early goal because I thought we looked a little shell shocked and I was worried about right then what that emotion and what this past week took out of us, but the response by the guys – unbelievable.
"Let’s not forget that they’re the reigning Supporters’ Shield holders and they’re a real team, so to get a result against them any time is big time, so it boosts our confidence. It gives us one to start moving in the right direction."
The game also saw newly-added Designated Player Taxiarchis Fountas take the field in the black and red uniform for the first time ever. He adjusted quickly, scoring twice before linking up with Michael Estrada to assist yet another goal.
The Greek internationally initially signed a pre-contract agreement to join the team as a free agent in the summer, before D.C. United met with Rapid Vienna to get the player to Major League Soccer sooner.
“He’s forming chemistry with a lot of guys, you can see it in practice. He just understands the game very well. He’s a difference-maker, obviously. He hasn’t played a game in a while, so to just see him that sharp and be emotionally bought into the group that much is really exciting,” Ashton said about Fountas.
“I know the group is super happy to have him here and obviously he had a massive night tonight, but he’s that kind of player. We expect performances to keep coming like that from him.”
“Taxi is awesome, he really is,” echoed goalkeeper Jon Kempin postgame.
“He’s really gelled already with the team off the field as well. He doesn’t speak too much English, but he’s a little bit of a jokester, so with the kind of little bit of English that he knows, he’s always smiling, always laughing, and that’s that positive energy that our team needs in the locker room."
After a turbulent week with accusations of strict and rigid conditions behind the scenes, it seems D.C. United’s comeback is underway.
The team returns to the pitch on Saturday when facing the Columbus Crew at Lower.com Field.