Quick thoughts, DC United vs. SJ Earthquakes

Like many DC United games, this one could have been subtitled “The Tale of Two Halves.”  Except, unlike a normal United game, they were poor in the first half and then got better in the second.  And the Earthquakes were all over United in the first half, keeping all of the possession and sending in some good chances.  No clearance on a corner that hit the ground after a poor header led to Ike Opara putting it into the back of the net. goal.  Also, United had too many long balls not on target, leading to easy turnovers.  One thing I noticed was that I could hear people barking out commands down on the SJ side of the field, but none of that on the DCU side.

In the second half it was a different story.  Jaime Moreno was brought in and put on the left wing, with Pontius moving up top.  This seemed to work well for United, as Jaime is still good at holding up the ball and passing.  Especially after the goal, San Jose seemed to press more and lose possession more easily.  The result was a fair one on the balance of play, but its frustrating. United could easily be taking three points instead of one and could be moving up the table.  But hey, at least they’re not just getting blown out every game anymore.

And now for the ratings!

Troy Perkins – 3 for the first 85 minutes, 7 for the last 5 minutes, 4 overall: As I’ve said multiple times before, Perkins doesn’t command his box. In particular, in this game he could come off his line and not end up with the ball way too often.  There were at least four or five times that this happened, and it happened enough the the commentators started noticing it and calling Perkins out on it.  But then Perkins makes three great saves in the last five minutes of the match, preserving the draw.Why couldn’t last 5 minutes Perkins play for all 90?

Devon McTavish – 5: Bad touch off his toe that almost led to a goal, but it was saved by Perkins. Otherwise he was solid, but nothing special.

Juan Manuel Pena – 4.5: Nice tackle to save a shot on goal, but a little shaky elsewhere.  Seemed to be always be playing catch-up on defense, never commanding.

Dejan Jakovic – 6.5: He was good on the offensive side: had a nice little run forward and a nice header on target, cleared off the line by Convey. More solid than Pena.

Jordan Graye – 5: Looked nice going forward and generally provided good work in the back; however, towards the end of the game he had some bad clearances.  Headed a ball out of bounds that he should have been able to control and missed a clearance or two in the box.

Chris Pontius – 6: The story of Chris Pontius: lots of pretty work but he can’t put any of it in the back of the net.  In the first half, United seemed to be trying to press the ball to him and it led to turnovers, both by Pontius and by the people trying to pass the ball to him. He got better when he moved up top and when Moreno got moved out onto the wing.  Dangerous but impotant.

Stephen King – 6.5: Anonymous in the first half.  Played better in the second half, especially with the great hold up and cross into Najar for the goal.

Clyde Simms – 6: Didn’t write anything good or bad for him during the match, but he was solid.

Andy Najar – 7.5: I want to keep him on DC United as long as humanly possible; however, I don’t think its going to be that long until someone comes along and buys him from United/MLS.  He needs some longer cleats because he seemed to be sliding all over the field early.  He had some nice forward runs, skipping over a tackling defender, and of course a nice run on the goal.  He sometimes tries to do too much and gets dispossed, which he did sometimes in the first half.  However, in the second half he settled in and was able to link up better with those around him.

Santino Quaranta – 6: See entry for Pontius.  He also had a tricky shot near the end, but it just wouldn’t go in.

Adam Cristman – 5: Good work rate, bad touch.  Things opened up a lot for United when he was taken off.

Jaime Moreno – 7: Crafty, good passing, helped set up Najar’s goal. Might be worth trying starting him as the target forward next to Quaranta or keeping him out on the wing with Pontius up top; maybe test each out for a half in the next Open Cup match?
Boyzzz Khumalo – NA: Late sub.
Danny Allsopp – NA: Late sub.

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