DC United should be neither elated nor concerned after the team needed 75 minutes to beat a PDL squad consisting mostly of college players and a few amateurs. It wasn't pretty, but DC is one step closer to defending their US Open Cup title, which is more than you can say about the 4 MLS clubs who lost to USL clubs last night.
1. Others seem to disagree, but I thought Ange N'Silu looked good last night. And while he and Khumalo didn't work together very well, which is exactly what I predicted, N'Silu was involved in almost every decent scoring chance in the first half. He disappeared for most of the second half, but he drew the penalty which ultimately put us ahead, and then popped up again in stoppage time to score our second goal.
2. Were this an MLS game being officiated by MLS refs, Chris Pontius would have earned two penalty kicks. Pontius was the best player on the field in the second half.
3. Marc Burch was the best player on the field in the first half. Despite his flaws, the USLlive.com announcer made a good analogy when comparing Burch to the point man on a hockey power play. From a spot on the back line, Burch was organizing the attack in the first half. He passed well with Wallace on the left flank, and would frequently find Khumalo or McTavish open with long balls across the field. And this match also saw the return of the legendary Burchie-bomb, which seems to be reserved only for Open Cup matches, as Burch hit the free kick that Ogunbiye failed to secure for the last goal.
4. Milos Kocic made two great saves in the final five minutes to preserve the victory. Needs to work on his distribution though.
1. This was my first chance to see John DiRaimondo. He reminds me a bit of Jeremy Barlow: small (5'-7", 155lbs) and not the best athlete, but calm and with good positioning. In a match that was often frustrating to watch, the incident in which Janicki bowled over and subsequently injured DiRaimondo provided a bit of comic relief.
1. Maybe this is being too harsh on him, but I thought Andrew Jacobson looked right at home on a field with a bunch of amateur soccer players. Too many giveaways.
2. Ok so we learned two things about Boyzzz Khumalo in this match. First, he's not a right wing. And second, he's not a starter. He had some terrible crosses, and on one fast break opportunity late in the game, he tripped over his own feet. Probably because he was tired after running nonstop for 80 minutes. Khumalo is best when coming on as a sub as a striker in the 75th minute to run around the opposing defense like crazy after they're all winded.
So those red Barons deserve a bit of credit. They put forth a valiant effort against a first place professional team, and I think they probably have some players whose names we might hear again at a higher level in a couple years. Hopefully the United players congratulated them after the match. But we'll be the ones moving on to face our Open Cup rivals the Harrisburg Islanders next week.