I guess MLS didn't spend much time upgrading the referees this offseason.
If this game is going to be representative of the entire season, then we could be in for another long one. Actually, the opening match wasn't much different from last year. We played hard, we fought, we had some missed chances, but ultimately it was some individual errors and some bad luck that cost us the match.
1. Ben Olsen made his presence known from the beginning of the match, and set an example for the youngsters with his hard tackling. Olsen may no longer be one of the fastest players on the field, but he's still a very accurate passer, and his leadership is evident.
2. For about 75 minutes, our defense was dominant, and a big reason for that was Greg Janicki. DC didn't give up one shot on goal in the first half, and Janicki did well with a lot of quality clearances.
3. Even though he seemed to be missing for the first half hour or so, rookie Chris Pontius proved in his first match why he was taken with the 7th overall draft pick. Pontius took advantage of some weak defending by LA with a perfectly placed shot into the far upper corner of the goal. Looks like we might have a rookie of the year candidate for the first time since 1998.
1. Even though I disagreed with it when I first saw it, Tom Soehn's starting lineup proved to be excellent. I guess the 3-5-2 isn't so evil afterall. The decision to start two defensive minded wingers in McTavish and Wallace was golden. However, I thought the bloody escapades of Janicki and McTavish should have been handled better. From the moment it became evident that both players would have to leave the field, Soehn should have immediately had Marc Burch ready to enter. Instead, United was forced to play with 9 men for several minutes, and an extra defender just might have made the difference in keeping the ball out of our box to avoid that terribly officiated penalty kick.
2. Our two wingers Devon McTavish and Rodney Wallace each had their highlights and lowlights. McTavish was all over the place on the right flank during the first half, sending in some crosses, and also made some good defensive stops. You could clearly see Wallace gain confidence as the match wore on, and he should receive credit for an assist on Pontius's goal. Both of them had a few too many turnovers though.
3. Dejan Jakovic was solid in defense, but he seemed a bit slow to react sometimes. Let's keep our eye on this. Hoping he doesn't turn into Peralta Jr.
1. You can't blame him for the second goal, but two goals on just three shots on target is not a good enough ratio for Josh Wicks. And that was pretty much the worst penalty kick goalkeeping I've ever seen. I'm still predicting that Wicks will be cut at some point during the year to make room for Mediate once Crayton is healthy and Kocic is more experienced.
2. Marc Burch was caught in no man's land on the tying goal. He appeared to be the weak link in defense during his 15 minutes of action.
3. (Late addition!) I know that Luciano Emilio is the typical shoot-first pass-later striker. But when you've got two defenders on you and a charging goalkeeper in front of you, and one of the best offensive players in the league wide open square to your right with an empty net staring him in the face, PLEASE PASS!
All things considered, a point on the road while missing 3 or 4 of our regular starters is nothing to cry about. But in a season where we are bound to be in the middle of the pack among Eastern Conference teams and fighting for a playoff spot, those extra two points sure would have come in handy. I guess United should have thought about that before drafting a guy with a hand growing out of his thigh. Or maybe that was just in Marrufo's head...