The 29-year-old revived his dormant MVP candidacy, turning in 90 active minutes and scoring his eighth goal of the season as United notched a 4-2 win over the Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium.
"It's unbelievable to have him back," United coach Ben Olsen said during his postgame news conference. "He's just relentless. I'm just glad he's on our team. Playing that nine role on the field, he's not always the biggest and strongest, but he's an absolute handful. He just wills himself to succeed. It was a pretty impressive performance."
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Espindola, who also has eight assists this season, hadn't made a start since June 11 because of a knee injury. He returned to action with 41 minutes off the bench in United's 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend.
With striker Eddie Johnson suspended, Espindola made his second start of the season alongside Luis Silva up top. After Silva bagged a hat trick the first time around — the 4-2 win over the Montreal Impact that Espindola was injured in — he scored twice Sunday.
"Ever since preseason we have gotten along really well, on and off the field," Silva told reporters. "I think that helps when we're playing. That chemistry goes onto the field and it stays off of the field, as well."
United (12-7-4) sits two points behind Sporting Kansas City for first place in the Eastern Conference, with Olsen's side possessing a game in hand.