"What an advertisement this has been for Major League Soccer here tonight". I heard Glenn Davis speak that line twice during the broadcast, once in the 68th minute on ESPN2, and once before the game was being shown on television (thanks atdhe.net). At first I was thinking that that was a terribly hypocritical thing to say. That if ESPN really wanted to advertise MLS, they might think about broadcasting the entire game. But then I realized that ESPN was just thinking of that literally. They treated this match as if it were nothing but "an advertisement". It was 11:55pm ET when ESPN2 joined this game in progress. That's when cable stations are usually showing Paid Programming right? But then later from Allen Hopkins I heard "This is exactly what MLS was hoping for." Really? MLS was hoping ESPN2 would only show 30 minutes of this match?
And that's really a shame. A high scoring match between the two most exciting teams in MLS, playing in undoubtedly the stadium with the best atmosphere in MLS, is the type of match that should be shown in HD in primetime on national television. It's a shame that ESPN doesn't agree. With hockey and basketball done for the year, and the NFL still a couple months away, sports fans are dying for something exciting to watch. The College World Series doesn't qualify. It would really be in ESPN's best interest to treat soccer as if it were a major sport, but I don't see this country's perception of soccer changing until the media's coverage of soccer changes.
OK let's actually talk about the match some. I'll be honest, I actually went into this one expecting a loss. After an emotional victory over the supposed best team in the league Chicago last week, I figured it would be hard to keep up that momentum. And I was right for most of this match. But then... In the match that concludes the first half of United's 2009 campaign, as we've seen so many times already this season, we stormed back. Thanks to some continuous pressure up top, Sigi's decision to take his foot off the pedal, and a little bit of luck.
1. Right now Christian Gomez is playing the best he's played in two years. Here's hoping that he is healthy enough to start on Saturday. He sure looked like he will be.
2. Chris Pontius was our only attacker who looked dangerous for all 90 minutes.
3. What a perfect cross by Santino Quaranta to set up Pontius's goal. That would be his 6th assist of the season, putting him in second place in the league, and just 1 behind Brad Davis.
1. I think it might be time to start counting the number of points that we owe to Josh Wicks. I count 1 in the tie against RSL, 2 in the win against Chicago, and now 1 tonight. Wicks could have done better on the second goal, but didn't have much of a chance on the other two. He had several great saves to keep us in it.
1. Dejan Jakovic and Marc Burch seemed to feed off each other's mistakes. This was the worst performance by the DC defense this season, by far. These two need to wash their memories of this match quickly, because I'm expecting much better this weekend.
2. The link between the defense and midfield was missing tonight. That would be Clyde Simms and Andrew Jacobson. After this match, I'm officially moving Devon McTavish up above Jacobson on my depth chart.
3. I didn't like Tom Soehn's lineup from the start. I figured that if Ben Olsen is healthy enough to play only one out of the two games this week, it should be this one. And we definitely missed his leadership out there tonight. But my bigger issue with Soehn was bringing in N'Silu when Fred had to come off, instead of just making a straight swap with Gomez. I understand occassionally resting Gomez, but if the plan was to bring him on at some point in the second half, why not just move that up instead of wasting a sub?
4. And speaking of that wasted sub, Ange N'Silu was rarely involved in this match, and when he was, he was usually giving the ball away. United has a recent history of cutting its reserve forwards after each season (Addlery, Kpene, Doe), and I doubt 2009 will be any different with N'Silu.
So that's twice as many Rail as Top Shelf players in a road draw? Seems sort of odd, but then again, this point was a bit of a gift. And this is an important stretch of the season where we've got 3 matches in 8 days, and Chicago has none. With the chance to increase our lead in the East, what was the most points we could expect from this two game road trip? 4? 3? Well we're on our way towards that.