Finishing 1-1 against the leader of the Mexican Primera Division on the road is a better result than most of us expected, and probably a better result than we deserved. Still, thanks to some inspired play by a few individuals, and some poor shooting by Toluca, we emerged with a single point.
A win would have secured our spot in the Champions' League quarterfinals, but let's not count ourselves out yet. That spot will now come down to the result of the Marathon at San Juan Jabloteh match on Thursday night. SJJ won't want to finish the CCL with zero points so they are going to try their hardest to earn a positive result, and they played both DCU and Toluca to 1-0 losses. Hopefully Marathon's plane gets delayed again.
1. Chris Pontius opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a brilliant strike. And despite taking what I thought was an injury off a hard Toluca challenge (that went un-whistled of course), he fought hard for 90 minutes.
2. The best defender for United tonight was Devon McTavish. I actually thought removing him around the 60th minute was the wrong move because he'd played so well, and because he's done so well in Champions' Cup/League matches in the past.
3. Steve Cronin continues to raise his transfer price with another excellent performance in net.
1. I mentioned that Pontius fought hard for 90 minutes. Unfortunately that wasn't true for every member of the team, but it was true for Julius James and Fred. Wasn't the best performance for either of them, but each contributed when necessary, and were running until the end despite being clearly gassed.
1. The penalty kick call against Lawson Vaughn was a bit unlucky because the foul was definitely not intentional. But if the player hadn't run around him so easily to begin with, he never would have been in that position. Vaughn was right up there next to McTavish after the first half, but he dropped off considerably in the second.
2. Other than Fred, our first half midfield combination of John DiRaimondo, Danny Szetela, and Boyzzz Khumalo was the worst we've seen all year from DC United. Toluca had no problems dribbling through our midfield, and we weren't able to build any considerable amount of possession. The presence of Simms/Olsen/Jacobson was sorely missed.
With a tie and two days wait until the conclusion of the group stage, the CCL is now out of our hands. Maybe we'll advance, maybe we won't.
What's not out of our hands though is our MLS playoff potential! It's do or die at Kansas City on Saturday. I'm not going to waste my time attempting to write up any playoff scenarios again (you can get that here), but let's just say that a loss or tie leaves us with very little chance of survival.
Two important matches Thursday night - Chivas at Chicago and Marathon at Jabloteh. Each could have a huge impact on our team's future. All we can do on Thursday night though is hope for the best. Saturday is when it's time to take care of business.