Cincinnati vs. D.C. United: The Reds were just fine on their way to the top of Major League Soccer

Brenner scores 3 to beat D.C United, putting Cincinnati in MLS playoffs for first time since 2011

CINCINNATI — On Saturday, the Reds were just fine on their way to the top of Major League Soccer.

But that night, Cincinnati’s biggest stars had to watch from the bench, thanks to a disappointing 0-0 draw against D.C. United. The 2-0 final score was the first of the Reds’ four draws in their last five games.

So they knew the loss would be a huge one, especially when the Reds looked like they couldn’t even score a little goal in the first half.

On the other end, it was a win, as Cincinnati took care of business in a 2-0 victory over D.C. before a sellout crowd by playing a perfect first half in which both teams spent just 40 minutes on the field.

It was the last match in Cincinnati’s 11-day road trip that ended at Virginia on Saturday. And it was the first league matchup for these two clubs in nearly a month since the Reds beat Toronto FC 2-0 on March 6 in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s also the first time the two clubs have fought out a scoreless draw since March 24, 2010, when D.C. came back to beat the Reds at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.

“I think both teams know that the season has moved on, so there’s a little bit different focus,” Red star D.J. Swearinger said. “They’ve got to start thinking, ‘OK, how’s the game going to go when we’re in a playoff race’ or ‘how’s the game going to go when we know we’re in it.’ I think they’ll come to the game ready to play.”

For D.C. United, it was an opportunity to get some points, to get on the same page with playoff-bound Real Salt Lake and to get their first win over the Reds. There were no complaints about the way the team played in the end. D.C. United was simply trying to get some momentum back for the rest of the season.

“We’re a better team than we were in the second half,” D.C. manager Ben Olsen said. “We showed it again in the first half — we made

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