This is the best our team has looked in quite a while. DC United just worked harder in this match, which is great to see. We won most of the 50-50 balls tonight, which has been rare the past few months. The team's first win against an MLS opponent since 7/18 couldn't have come at a better time.
The only thing I didn't like about our performance was the number of fouls given in close range. It continues to be part of Chicago's strategy to go down at the smallest hint of contact near the box. We were a bit lucky that Blanco didn't test Wicks more in his numerous chances.
1. Bryan Namoff continues to have maybe his best season, playing quite well on defense, and adding his second goal of the year on a header from a Gomez free kick.
2. I had my doubts about starting Ben Olsen at right wing against the very underrated Marco Pappa, but he did great, and it turned into a bit of a fluid role as he was moved into central midfield towards the end of the first half. Olsen looked awesome going forward, and came pretty close to scoring on a Burch to Quaranta cross in the 62nd minute. I could almost hear the "YEESSSS!" before the ball went just wide.
3. The reason that the 4-4-2 looked so good in this match was because Clyde Simms was doing the job of two defensive midfielders. Dude was all over the place!
4. Julius James and Dejan Jakovic were an excellent combination as the center backs. James broke up several plays, and gave Jakovic the freedom to advance the ball into the midfield, as he often does so calmly. James was the leading offender of commiting fouls near the box though, so that's something to keep our eyes on.
1. Give some credit to some of the other attackers like Christian Gomez, Fred, Santino Quaranta, and Luciano Emilio. These guys worked tirelessly to make sure it wouldn't be easy for the Fire to advance the ball out of the midfield, and made some defensive contributions too. The chemistry among our entire team was clearly evident tonight.
Notice the only two starters I'm not rating are Josh Wicks and Marc Burch. The feud between these two guys had me worried for a minute. We already knew that both of these guys are sort of hotheads. But is it really a problem for two passionate guys to go at it like that? I have no doubt that they will work it out in the locker room, but we'll all be watching for comments on the Goffblog.
I've been ragging on referees a lot lately, so let me point out that this was a really well officiated match by Kevin Stott. We probably deserved all of our yellow cards, and he kept control of a match between two teams that have broken into fisticuffs in previous meetings. My only complaint comes from the time keeping. Four minutes of stoppage time when there weren't any injuries?
I don't know if we could have picked a better time to beat a tough Eastern Conference opponent on the road. We've finally broken our long winless streak. But more importantly, now we've got some momentum going into the Open Cup Final on Wednesday. Look for our best eleven to start this match. I've got my tickets. Do you?