This one wasn't looking pretty before kickoff. With Fred injured and Gomez and Moreno ailing, the keys were handed to Rodion Sergeyevich Dyachenko. Now, pardon the tangent here, but I do have a science background and I'm pretty familiar with relativistic physics and bodies in motion and whatnot, so can someone explain how putting Dyachenko in midfield instead of up top not only makes him about 800 times better, but also makes him physically faster? Is it a trick of the light? I guess turning him to face goal rather than forcing him to play with his back to it makes all the difference as his one-touch passing was slick and accurate, he ran with the ball effectively, and generally looked much more deserving of the first round pick we dealt to Mad Mo and his scheming Canucks to get him back.
Even so, United will be indebted to Khano Smith, whose "school of Gros" crossing all but eliminated New England's early chances. That left the door open for Matt Reis to have the first brainfart of the evening, inexplicably leaving the ball on a platter for the aforementioned be-casted, en-headgeared one to pounce. Gros poked the ball into the net to general confusion on the pitch and much gnashing of teeth from the Revolution netminder. Could he have been under the spell of the headgear, taking its sweet revenge for the cue-ball keeper's mauling of poor Alecko Eskandarian a few years ago?
And why was Gros in such an advanced position? Quite simply, Marc Burch has saved us from the pain of watching Gros commit cardinal sin after cardinal sin on the back line. The former Terp transitioned seamlessly from his excellent play in SuperLiga back to the rough and tumble world of MLS. The whole back four in general looked pretty good, excepting a bit of trouble on set pieces and late on when the Revs were throwing everybody forward. The return of Namoff may be a significant turning point in United's season, and McTavish should probably be collecting some sort of award for critical shots blocked. Also returning was Guy Kpene, who looked to be getting back to the sort of play that had me, and many others, so excited in the early stages of the season. His skill on the ball and sweet through ball to Emiligol for United's second was good to see.
Speaking of Emiligol, I did call him out a bit after the less than lethal performances he's been turning in lately, and in the early minutes, he dallied on a ball too long when presented a chance in the box and I was in "oh crap, here we go again" territory. But the man stood up to be counted, twice finishing sweet "dagger balls" to bump his MLS total to 12 and reclaiming his assassin's bandolier from the coat-check girl.
While I don't think it's fair to say that United dominated the match, both teams having been blessed with good stretches of play, they looked hungry and determined, pressing high and looking to attack, which isn't something that you could generally say about their road performances thus far this season. But is this a turning point? Bitch-slapping the leaders of the East in their own house and hanging three on them is a good start, but the key will be consistency. Moreno's injury status will be a concern, though improved performances from the younger players will mitigate that and allow the Bolivian to pace himself and go into the post-season strong and healthy, something we didn't see much of in the Nowak era. Dyachenko's solid performance, combined with our acquisition of Fred, means that we could even see Gomez rested a bit, rather than running him into the ground by late August. Now I'm off to see if Lord Beckham makes an appearance north of the border. I'll be in full scouting mode as our next two games will be against Cirque du LA.