How's that for a confidence booster? With only 7 of our normal starting 11 in the lineup, and only 6 guys starting who started against KC in the season opener, United somehow came together to produce a big win and their first shutout of the year. With a first look at the starting lineups and the revelation that Ryan Pore was starting at forward, I kind of had a feeling that this could finally be THE ONE, and the team did not disappoint.
1. With apologies to Wellsy, the #1 performer in this match goes to Tom Soehn, who took a roster made of straw and spun it into gold. The straight 4-man midfield worked out surprisingly well, allowing the team to control possession for the majority of the match, and shifting the solid Namoff into central defense was the right decision here.
2. Zach Wells really earned the shutout in this match. He made two fantastic saves (one immediately after halftime, and one around the 66th minute) that easily could have been scores for KC, and if they had been scores, we all would have been sitting around saying that neither goal was Zach's fault. He put in a game changing performance last night, and to get his first clean sheet without los Gonzalos in the lineup might have made it feel even better.
3. Screw Budonovuddlen, I think the best forward-forward combination in the league right now is Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno. Moreno had a goal and an assist, adding to my plea that he be considered an MVP candidate. Is it just me, or has Emilio scored a lot of goals with his left foot this year?
4. Bryan Namoff really stepped up as the leader of the defense in this match. Made some great blocks and remained very involved in the attack, despite playing centrally. Hopefully no one in the USMNT camp watched this match, because if they did, Namoff might deserve some consideration.
5. Two very strong debuts from the two former Quakers Ivan Guerrero and Joe Vide. BDR makes a good point about how Guerrero's work rate (and I would add Vide's as well) helps free up Fred more, to allow Fred to be Fred. One assist in one game for DC is not too shabby for Guerrero. And although Vide can at times be a bit Dyachenkish in his challenges, he plays the enforcer role quite well. Maybe it's just the scruffy beard, but at times he almost reminded me of another UVA product.
1. Kudos to the rest of the defense Marc Burch, Devon McTavish, and Pat Carroll for helping the team earn its first shutout. Burch's biggest contribution came on the offensive end though with a perfectly placed free kick for Moreno's goal. But I agree with Fullback that the defense did make me a bit nervous a couple of times that we would lose the shutout because of a stupid mistake.
2. Hopefully everyone agrees that Fred just played his best game in many weeks. And he did it while playing on the wing, NOT in the middle. On the wing, where he belongs!
So DC turned in a great game, and one that they really needed against a team who we were tied with for points before the match. DC is now solidly in third place in the East, with one game in hand over Chicago and two over Columbus. But that comes with a very tough stretch of matches ahead. Following a winnable game against the improving Red Bulls, United then faces NE at home, Chicago on the road, and NE on the road. It's the Open Cup semi-final match next Tuesday though that we should all consider the first MUST-WIN game of the year. Really a shame that it won't be seen on tv anywhere - I'll be in Ocean City that week :(