United Recap - The Bearded Bombardier

And lo - the Bearded Bombardier,
Will punish the legions of Frisco.
And the black-clad midfield,
Will rain goals upon their hoopéd foe.
Witness the triumph of the Crossing Machine!

Arguably the two best midfields in all of MLS met last night in Frisco, but it was the gulf in defensive quality that turned the tide. Dallas came out strong and despite being rocked by an early laser from distance by Benny "the Bearded Bombardier" Olsen, they carried the play for the the majority of the first half. Significantly, they could only manage two real chances of quality despite their stranglehold on the game. Throughout, their pace and lovely "dagger balls" splitting the United back line asunder looked likely to produce goals, but Perkins and some last-ditch blocks denied Dallas an equalizer.

Late in the half, United started to settle and work the possession game to their own advantage, ultimately resulting in a wicked ball to the six delivered by the crossing machine, Marc "Bend it Like" Burch. Emilio failed to convert the chance, but the Bearded Wonder mystically materialized to clean up the garbage and net his brace, pushing United's lead to two. The second half was confirmation of their dominance, and despite the introduction of Dallas' new signing Denílson midway through, DC controlled the play, with Gomito and Fred both finding net from distance while the defense held firm.

Burch's crossing was also key in the Gomez goal as another ball whipped into the box forced a hurried clearance, thus setting the table. Burch has been a real revelation at left back for United and the key to the team's renaissance. And we got him for a pick in the Supplemental Draft? Great work by the front office, though even they have to be taken aback at how well, and how quickly, Burch's transition to defense has gone. With Gros likely returning sooner than expected, United seems to have depth at pretty much every area of the pitch barring keeper and goal poacher. As long as Perkins and Emilio stay healthy, things look sunny for United.

But that brings us to a few cautions. First, let's hope that Emilio is okay. The sight of him being comforted by Soehn on the bench while the trainer looked on was a bit worrying, but postgame comments from Soehn seem to indicate that he was withdrawn as a precaution against aggravating the injury he's carrying. Possibly the Brazilian hitman was disconsolate that he didn't get a chance to pad his lead in the golden boot race. If that was the case, he had a right to be concerned as Angel and Johnson both netted their 14th goals last night to draw them level.

The other concern is whether United is peaking too early. They've certainly been in great form lately, dominating defensively, scoring goals, and controlling possession. That said, we've still got a ways to go until the playoffs. A dominating run at this point in the season could deliver the Supporters' Shield, which is certainly important for continental qualification, but if United peaks and then begin to drop off right as the playoffs come around, we could be looking at post-season disappointment once again. With the MLS Cup final in our house, that's an unthinkable situation.

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