After dropping three straight matches at home to MLS opponents, and with our most consistent defender and our two most dynamic attackers out, most fans didn't really expect DC United to win this match. Especially not against the soon-to-be back-to-back Supporters' Shield winners. And it may not have been an attractive victory, but it was a victory none the less. And it was just what we needed to somehow manage to stay in the playoff race. I'll make the match ratings quick because I want to get to the breakdown of the playoff standings.
1. Steve Cronin in his first match with the team looked completely confident and competent. I wonder what our place in the standings would look like had we acquired Cronin instead of Wicks from the Galaxy in the offseason.
2. Give credit to Julius James and Dejan Jakovic for earning a shut out against the best team in MLS. Luci's goal was nice, but the defense was the real story tonight.
3. Clyde Simms and Andrew Jacobson each played well in central midfield. Simms was all over the field in the first half, and Jacobson was also a strong presense.
1. The early goal from Luciano Emilio may not have looked like much, but it came off of a perfectly timed run to stay onside. Emilio had too many giveaways in the second half though, failing to hold onto the ball when we really needed to maintain possession.
2. Marc Burch had a quiet game tonight, which is better than most of his games recently.
1. Even though the team was playing in a 3-5-2 to specifically take advantage of his talents, Christian Gomez was a complete non-factor in this match.
What's great about the MLS this season is that every single goddamn match in the final week has playoff implications! Even Chicago's playoff position isn't safe. With 42 points, a loss next week combined with a DCU win would put United ahead of them based on our 2-0-1 record against the Fire. The LA-SJ match is the only one that won't necessarily affect a team's playoff status, but will still impact the Galaxy's seeding.
So there are exactly 3 playoff spots still in play, and there is one team at 42 points (Chicago), one team at 40 points (Colorado), and four teams at 39 points. Of the teams in competition, DC owns head-to-head advantages over Chicago and Dallas. We are even with Colorado. And we are at a disadvantage against Real Salt Lake, New England, and Toronto.
What we know for sure is that DC United MUST WIN at Kansas City to have a shot. Also, if any three of Chi/Col/NE/Tor wins, we are definitely out. There's still plenty of scenarios, but here's what I'll be rooting for:
1. Chicago to lose to Chivas on Thursday night
2. Toronto to lose or tie at the Red Bulls on Saturday
3. Colorado to lose or tie at RSL on Saturday
4. Dallas to lose or tie at Seattle on Saturday
5. New England to lose or tie at Columbus on Sunday
So if three of those five things happen, and United wins, we are in the playoffs. Against all odds. It sure felt like our team in 2009 was better than our team in 2008, yet we are somehow right back in the same spot as last year - needing a win in the last week to continue playing.