First Impressions -- D.C United 1 : 1 New England Revolution
If I am willing to accept ugly wins, such as the one against Houston, then how am I to feel about beautiful losses? Fortunately, the question need not be answered yet, but we were within a few minutes of that scenario, and the answer was: I was willing to accept it. If this match represents the ambitions of D.C. United for this season, then I say give me more.
United played its most complete match of the season. While the Revolution occasionally had moments, they never stretched longer than five minutes at a time, and United ran this match. Now, in this they were aided by a Revolution side that was ineffective at maintaining possession, especially in midfield. So while I want to toast the United effort, we must also acknowledge that it was abetted by the Revolution. But still, the nightmare scenario of the Revolution scoring the first goal occurred. And in a fantastic demonstration of irony, when the Revolution decided to lock up shop and sit on the one goal lead, to play for the oles in our defensive third as opposed to putting in the second goal, it was United that managed to find a way back into the match. It was a match that United played beautifully in everything but the scoreboard.
My fear was that a loss might send the opposite message, that the strategists and generals would look at the result and say "ah, clearly we took to many shots and pushed too hard, and thus we neglected our defensive toughness and lost." The fact that the draw was maintained hopefully sends the opposite message: That this is the kind of game we should play every night.
Debrief is coming, but the Man of the Match is Ben Olsen. Certificate of Merit to Jaime Moreno, Christian Gomez, Rodney Wallace, Andrew Jacobson, and Marc Burch. Demerits to Chris Pontious and Bryan Namoff as a duo, Chris Pontius when he got on his own, and to John Harkes. Harkes? Yes, John Harkes, for his theory of "giving up goals after personnel changes." The changes happened on United's left flank, and yes Wallace seemed pinched too centrally defending a cross that stranded Jakovic between two attacking players on the left, but the breakdown leading to the cross was entirely on the right flank.
We will also discuss Tom Soehn's strategy that lead to Moreno fighting through his pain, for which he deserves all the credit in the world. You may not agree with the move, but it was damn interesting, and when was the last time you can say that? Certainly Rodney Wallace did not seem out of place at left back for the final thirty minutes. And once you made those two substitutions, you knew that between Gomez, Moreno, and Olsen, that two of those three would have to go the full ninety minutes.
Other open questions: Do we pay a karma penalty for the Bryan Namoff handball? Is Jair Marrufo the new Abbey (and Revolution fans, I think you may have been more sinned against by him that United were)? And Avery John -- really? Really?
But overall? I was prepared to be grimly happy, if such a thing is possible, with the 1-nil loss. A 1-1 draw makes me pleased with a touch of wistfulness for the full three points. But you have to take this effort, right? Right.