First Impressions - D.C. United 3 : 2 Toronto F.C.
No, it doesn't make things better, but it does start to make things better. If United was truly to start reassembling this season, this is the kind of game they needed. Not a competent 1-nil victory, not a 5-2 thrashing of someone, both of those would lend themselves far too easy a comfort to a team to fall into self-delusion, to dismiss the first third of the season as just a bad dream.
But a game where the team plays well, and fights back twice to ultimately take a victory, that's one that might mean something in a way that keeps us all realistic about how far off we are.
I'll admit this, had we had the same game we'd had the last three, then that was it for me with Tom Soehn. But this game had more interesting moves to it. Remember what we said about toughness not being about fouls? This game saw Toronto vastly out-foul United, but we say United fight and dig and scrape for more balls in close space. This game had Gallardo, especially in the first half, switching balls diagonally from one wing to another. This game saw United truly use width to attack. And there was a goal on a set piece, a corner no less. I mean, really? Really? Yeah.
Maybe I'm dizzy from not having seen a win in a long time, but this game did feel better, didn't it? Not perfect, even in this euphoria I'm not that delusional, but better. Smarter. Tougher. Even when down 1-nil, this team seemed to have its head on straight. And perhaps the seeds of that were in the previous Toronto game, a game that we could see was better, but one that didn't feel better. Now what we see and feel are aligning in a more harmonious I-Ching hexgram, and that is refreshing. Emboldening, even.
No, this game was not perfect, it had plenty of flaws, but it feels like the first solid step up on a long staircase, and not simply falling forward on the stairs and claiming we've gained ground. This works for me. Yes, I know, we all want to discount a game where a penalty was involved in the margin of victory, but it was earned. Solidly.
Preliminary returns say merit awards to Martinez, Gallardo, Fred, and Moreno. Man of the match is probably from that group, and I'm leaning towards Fred who has been something of a catalyst of late (when he isn't depressed about heading a ball directly at a keeper). A quick snark at Mr. Wells is probably still in order, and Perralta seems to have scored a goal and missed a marker with similar dignity.