Who would have thought that United's first road victory of the year wouldn't come until June, against the Alpha Dog of the league Chicago? In the first half, this match felt like a couple earlier in the year, where DC dominated possession and had probably double the scoring opportunities, but failed to finish. But the team pulled ahead in stoppage time, with both goals scored without our supposed best player.
1. Everyone across blogland is lamenting the return of goalscorer Luciano Emilio. If you had showed United's first goal to me without identifying which player is which, no way I would have guessed that Emilio was the set up guy and Moreno was the finisher. But that great play by the Golden Boot winner is what may have triggered the start of a playoff run.
2. Maybe I'm just a bit nostalgic during DC United Championship Week on Comcast, or maybe I regret a bit of my criticism of his captaining abilities earlier in the year, but I was really happy with the performance of Jaime Moreno last night. His leadership up front made a huge difference.
3. I'll give a shoutout to Ryan Cordeiro for his role in the winning goal. He earned credit for the assist. And even though I was yelling at the tv for Emilio to reward Cord when he was wide open, knowing that the rookie has the ability to beat a keeper, Cordeiro still deserves credit for being in that position to keep Busch in the middle of the net instead of cheating towards the near post against Emilio.
1. I actually thought Zach Wells had his best game in weeks. Can't necessarily fault him for the first goal, and maybe this comparison is a bit unfair, but I can't help but think that Troy Perkins would have stopped it. Other than that though, I thought the backline was much more organized and Wells was effective at stopping crosses and corner kicks.
1. Marcelo Gallardo's inability to control his temper lands him down here. Compare Gallardo to what Blanco would have done in the same situation. Blanco wouldn't have retaliated against Prideaux; he would have stayed sitting on the ground for three minutes and complained when the referee finally decided to come over. Also, is it just a coincidence that both United goals were scored after Gallardo left the field? Just something to think about. Of course the counterpoint is that playing 10-on-10 meant there was more space in the midfield, but a part of me feels that the team became more organized in the attack once Gallardo left the field and Moreno assumed the responsibility of playmaker.
2. Not that he had necessarily a poor game, but I really hope that the absence of Gallardo next week doesn't lead to the automatic insertion of Rod Dyachenko to the CAM spot. I hope Soehn has learned now that Dyachenko is barely up to that role for 20 minutes, and is not the answer for 90. I'd rather see either Fred move into the middle, or Moreno move back with Quaranta moving up top. Either way, it's an additional winger like Cordeiro that should be added to the starting XI, not Dyachenko. And by the way, what happened to the mohawk? I kind of thought it fit his style of play pretty nicely.
So with that, United earned 4 points out of 2 road games against who everyone thought were the two best teams in the league. Not too shabby. Now with the team returning home for three straight against New York, San Jose, and LA, I'd like to avoid overconfidence, but there's no reason to believe that the team can't come away with 7 points, which should put them squarely back into the playoff race, as early overachievers Toronto and Columbus continue to return to earth. The next test will be against the Red Bulls, without Gallardo and Namoff, but a team that we have a tendency to dominate at home. Who will get a hat trick without Olsen?