Only Impressions -- D.C. United 5 : 3 New York Red Bulls
There will be no debrief, as this game isn't even a U.S. Open Cup match. It's a play-in, and frankly that's crap. I want games against the Islanders (of Pennsylvania), against the Battery, against some team called Ajax that's from Baltimore. That's the U.S. Open Cup I love. This play-in system against MLS teams that I see twice on other occasions just doesn't move me. So no debrief, as a note of protest.
That said, if you did make it out to RFK, it was a lovely night for a game. The weather was perfect, and the game was bizarrely fascinating. I suppose I'm supposed to say something about how even with the 4-nil lead, I was nervous, but it ain't true. Even when New York pulled within two, I wasn't particularly worried (had they managed to get it within one, I might have been frustrated.) But it was a fun game to watch. It opened with N'Silu and Khumalo putting on a clinic, a series of runs and passes that carved the defense. It featured Fred's most amazing miss of the year, if not this century. After Pontius brilliantly breaks through the back line and received a well weighted ball, he draws out Cepero with amazing patience, and sent the ball square to Fred, who managed with all the space and time in the world to put it over the bar from within the six yard box. If a miss could be a thing of glory, it was that miss. It was epic. Soaring. Pontius promptly gets one in the net on a corner kick (!), Boyzz drops in the goal, Barklage converts on a play entirely set up by N'Silu's doggedness on the left side, and Fred then manages to dribble one into the goal (!!). It was a lovely display of goals you may never see D.C. United score again this season. The only thing missing was Brandon Prideaux being signed at half-time to put one in the net as a second half sub.
And yes, the team was sloppy, and yes, New York got as close as two goals. But if there was a match with a pseudo-exhibition feel that makes you glad to watch it, it was this kind of a match.
So how did they look? N'Silu was strong until he ran himself out. Boyzzz seemed engaged and smart the entire time. Brandon Barklage quietly put together a wonderful game, especially taking the ball away and then beating Jorge Rojas on two occasions. Chris Pontius would easily have had man of the match status if I were to award such a thing for his strong work in midfield, well timed runs, and his two goals which were well deserved.
Problems? Sure. Avery John was exposed at left back on more than one occasion and had to be bailed out by Janicki or Namoff (including one Namoff snap header on a dangerous close cross.) Janicki himself got beat, only to recover well. Wicks was not at fault for the three goals, but was caught out of position on some set plays and high crosses. Center Official Mark Kadlecik apparently left his cards in his other pants and seemed powerless to stop the game from getting chippy at the end. Marc Burch did not look comfortable as a second half sub. And while we used all four substitutions, for which Soehn deserves credit, we did let Chris Pontius and Bryan Namoff, who could both use a little more rest, run more than 60 minutes.
Still, all in all, a fun, enjoyable night out. Could they have made this a little more meaningful? Yeah, it should have counted for the Atlantic Cup. OK, you're right, that would have changed nothing. But man, I enjoyed it.
Now let's see if after running out Gomez, Pontius, Namoff, and Fred for a half or more, if they have enough against RSL.