Wrap it up: DC wins on the road (again)

If you were among the brave few involved in #DCUafterDark, I salute you.  A group of probably 40 DCU fans banded together, using Twitter as a means to keep us awake during the dire stretches of United’s 2-1 win late Friday night.  That’s not to say there weren’t standout moments in the match.

The first 25 minutes of the game were undoubtedly the best spell of play United has enjoyed in the past season and a half.  The movement off the ball, passing, and ability to maintain possession were a sight for sore eyes, and a hint of what this team could become.  After double-agent Brandon Barklage volleyball spiked a United shot in the box, Eddie Johnson doubled his season goal total by slipping a poorly taken penalty past Jon Busch, to take the early lead.

United kept the pressure on, with Rolfe playing a ball across the six yard box that Luis Silva was able to poke into the net, rewarding United’s attacking display with a 2 goal lead.  The lead wouldn’t last long, with Wondolowski being karmically gifted a deflected goals to push his recurring Brazil miss nightmare from his brains for one night.

After that goal, United turned into the less visually appealing version of itself, scrambling to defend and relying on Bill Hamid to make up for bad bounces and defensive lapses.  Luckily for United, Hamid was ready to be called upon, stopping 9 shots (a personal record) and preserving all 3 points for the visiting team.

Player thoughts:

I’m going to avoid doing full player ratings for games I can only see on TV.  I tend to judge players more harshly if I can’t see what they do without the ball, so I wouldn’t want to penalize anyone unduly.

BUT, I can say a few things.  

  • Eddie Johnson’s moping is reaching rage inducing levels.  His teammates haven’t come to outright on field mutiny yet, but I have to imagine it gets a little tiresome being yelled at by him, seeing him gesticulating every play, and doing his weird fake run shuffle for 75 minutes.  Also, he was lucky that penalty squirted through.
  • Bill Hamid is not long for MLS.  We should enjoy him while we can, and hope that the academy can unearth another player close to what Hamid has turned into.
  • Steven Birnbaum continues to impress in his deputizing for Jeff Parke.  Olsen may have some tough choices to make when Parke returns, but on DCU, those things tend to work themselves out with inconvenient injuries.
  • Chris Rolfe was the bargain of the century.  Trading him for a pile of practice cones was undoubtedly Kasper’s best move of the offseason.
  • Sean Franklin played his best game in a United jersey.  Apparently, he needs to be in California to play at his best.

What did you think of the game? 

DC United at San Jose Earthquakes: Goonies sometimes die, I guess

Sure, that title is presumptuous, but I haven’t been paying close attention to San Jose this season, and in doing the research for this preview, I am shocked at how toothless they’ve been. Lenhart and Gordon have 0 league goals!  That’s less than Eddie Johnson!

Ed note: Lenhart is a lot of annoying things, but I will never not think this is funny-

Seriously, this is tremendous.

Seriously, this is tremendous.

San Jose’s League Form: LWWLLL

DC United’s League Form: LWDWLW

Aside from a victory in the Open Cup against a USL side, SJ has been toothless in attack, scoring only 1 goal per game over the season.  Granted, they’ve been missing Wondolowski for a few weeks, but that goal scoring rate has to be a big disappointment for Coach Mark Watson and SJ fans.  Despite their ineffectiveness going forward, the defense has been stingy of late, allowing 6 goals in the 8 games since a 3-2 loss against Vancouver in May – going 3-4-1 in that timeframe.  Additionally, they are getting back Victor Bernardez who has been a key contributor over the past few seasons.

United can expect a tight game on a small field

With the tight confines at Buck Shaw Stadium and the stingy SJ defense, United should expect a physical game with only a small number of scoring chances.  Luckily for DC, scoring on a very small number of chances is kind of this team’s thing.  If San Jose keys in on Johnson and allows for Silva and Rolfe to get opportunities, I can still see this being a successful road trip.  San Jose’s Yannick Djalo, finally healthy after a number of injuries, could pose problems for United’s midfield with his speed and passing.  There aren’t a large number of players the United have to watch closely, so they should be able to neutralize Djalo’s creativity.

Prediction: DC 1 SJ 0

I can’t imagine this game being an exciting tv spectacle, There is even a strong possibility of a large number of east coast United fans succumbing to sleep before the final whistle.  I can see another goal off a set piece similar to last weekend in Toronto, with Luis Silva playing the role of provider.  I also imagine we will see an identical lineup to last Sunday, but I hope that Collin Martin gets off the bench first this week, with an extended opportunity to unlock San Jose’s defense.

DC United on the road: Canadians aren’t all really nice

I was lucky enough to travel to Toronto this past weekend to see United pull out an ugly 2-1 victory, and I wouldn’t want to bore you with details about that. BR&U did a good job of that already here (LEWIS NEAL).

But I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences with you about what it’s like to go to an MLS road game in another country, something I hadn’t done until now. These are observations and conclusions that can only be drawn through the full immersive experience of 36 hours in a place.

10387148_10100251841524679_5699900133168349996_o Continue reading

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2 Goals, 1 Point; DC United draw Chicago Fire 2-2

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In a winnable game, DC United scored 2 goals and showed more offensive creativity than they have in 10+ games.  But 2 goals weren’t enough to secure three points as a leaky United defense allowed Chicago 2 goals to sneak away with a draw.

Considering the weather, 9800 fans wasn’t a horrible number for attendance, although I’m with many people on Twitter hoping that 9800 was the gate number and not tickets sold.  In my new section under the overhang, the seats were mostly packed as families hoped to stay relatively dry.  The concentration of fans under the roof made it seem louder than it may have sounded on TV.

On the field, it was immediately evident that this game was going to be a sloppy affair.  Neither team could complete a pass during the early going, as balls skidded out of bounds and off players’ feet.  United had most of the possession and had 9 chances on goal over the game, which feels like 9 more than they’ve had all season.  DC’s goals came on one of the oldest set play maneuvers, with DeLeon walking over the ball and rolling it backwards to Espindola, who knocked the ball under the wall and past Sean Johnson.  The second goal came after a mad scramble in the box following a DC corner, with Kitchen managing to put the ball into the net amidst a sea of players.

Once United got the lead, it was evident that the team wasn’t used to that dynamic.  Bill Hamid and Sean Franklin were punting balls to Sean Johnson repeatedly, and players were playing with a nervous frantic energy.  Predictably, Chicago was able to exploit some naive defending and scored the equalizer.  I’ll leave it to BR&U for further details, but I wanted to do the match ratings.  Continue reading

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