After hot start, D.C. United sends pair to National Team

WASHINGTON — Coming off their worst-to-first rebound in 2014, D.C. United was hopeful about the 2015 season, but not without concerns.

Considering that they were missing some top players to begin the year, there was an opportunity for D.C. United to open the 2015 campaign flat. Fabian Espindola, who shared the team lead with 11 goals last year, will serve the sixth and final game of his season-opening suspension. Eddie Johnson still hasn’t played since being diagnosed with an enlarged heart after the end of last season. And yet, five games in, United sits atop the Eastern Conference table.

The opening games of the season have not lacked for drama. Since winning their home opener, 1-0, over Montreal, three of their last four games have been decided in the 90th minute or later.

United squeezed past the LA Galaxy, 1-0, on a Chris Pontius header in the final minute of stoppage time.

They survived a litany of scoring opportunities in Orlando, only to snag another 1-0 victory at the death, a minute into stoppage time on a Luis Silva free kick.

Then, after Kitchen’s brace gave United a 2-0 lead 67 minutes in against New York last Saturday, the Red Bulls earned fought back and earned a draw in the 90th minute off a rebound that Hamid could not control.

Now, the Black and Red can match their best six-game start in franchise history with a win this weekend. And with the weather finally warming, United enjoys four of its next five contests at RFK Stadium, including Saturday’s match against the Houston Dynamo. That’s especially important, considering that United are unbeaten in their last 14 games at RFK dating back to June of last year.

This week, the club enjoyed more good news, as two of its players were called up to join the U.S. Men’s National Team as it faces Mexico in San Antonio in an international friendly Wednesday night. Midfielder Perry Kitchen, fresh off his first career two-goal game against the rival Red Bulls last weekend, will accompany goalkeeper Bill Hamid for the game.

It is Kitchen’s second call-up to the national team; his debut came in February against Panama. Hamid, meanwhile, has a pair of career appearances with the U.S. Men. The match will give both additional exposure on the international level before returning to the MLS season this weekend.

If the first five games is a harbinger of the season to come, D.C. United has a shot to repeat last year’s performance, where they topped the Eastern Conference table. And if the drama of the season’s opening month is any indicator, the results themselves should be thrilling.

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