We win trophies! The first piece of silverware of the season is safely in the trophy cabinet. While a trophy is always good, its really the play of the team with which I am concerned. On the whole, I am encouraged by the team’s play; I think they are better than last year’s team at this point and this team can still improve, while last year’s had already peaked. But there were some particularly good and particularly bad performances in yesterday’s game.
- The forwards: Charlie Davies and Joseph Ngewnya put the Toronto FC defense on its heels with their speed, something that United did not have at all last season (except from Najar). They have also been able to put balls in the back of the net and not try to walk them in. We still need to see consistency out of this pair, but so far, it looks encouraging.
- The wingers: Just like Davies and Ngewnya, Andy Najar and Chris Pontius and the speed to fly up the wings and put in good crosses, unlike wingers from last season like Brandon Barklage, Christian Castillo, Boyzzz Khumalo (who all started multiple games). Pontius has at least a couple assists this preseason and Najar has last year as his body of proof. If these two can stay healthy, they should provide good service to the two new forwards that are up top.
- Scoring more than one goal! It was nice to see United actually score more than one goal against MLS competition, even if it was after TFC went down a man.
- Dejan Jakovic: Ugh. His play yesterday was a continuation of the stupid mistakes he made last season. With Perry Kitchen looking like the rookie that he is, Jakovic needed to stop up and boss the back line. He didn’t. Why did we cut Julius Jones again?
- Branko Boskovic: Boskovic is not really a central midfielder and it looks like he’s fallen behind Pontius on the depth chart on the wing. With the struggles of the two center backs, United needs a true holding midfielder, a role in which Dax McCarty is wasted. Therefore, Clyde Simms is more necessary than ever. With Davies and Ngwenya solidifying the starting positions up top, it looks like the only way that Boskovic is getting on the field is in a five man midfield. Ben Olsen did not chose Boskovic and, even though he is a designated player, Olsen does not seem forced to start him. He will not be starting on March 19.
- Santino Quaranta: Not really as much for his play on the field, but his play on the practice field. When he came out in the second half with the second string, it showed that Olsen is committed (as he should be) to putting the best squad that he can on the field, regardless of anything else. With Santino on the bench, it seems as though the armband will pass to Dax McCarty.
With Boskovic and Quaranta likely on the bench, who does that leave on the field? Here is my current (and probably final) prediction for the starting lineup on March 19:
Zayner Jakovic Kitchen Woolard
Najar Simms McCarty(c) Pontius
Rosterology soon comes to an end, and real games soon begin! First Kick cannot come too soon.