I may have more to say about this game after I actually get a chance to view it in full tomorrow (technical difficulties--don't ask), but what I saw was enough to put United in the running for the coveted Alpha Dog spot atop this week's Dogpile (stay tuned, I know the suspense is surely killing you ;-). Four goals, and it could have been more. A solid showing at the back despite being confronted by arguably the most potent offensive team in MLS (United being the only real challengers). And then there's the return of Benny . . .
So, without further ado--on to the talking points!
* Emiligol can't stop banging them in at the moment. A hattrick would have been a sweet and justified reward, and he certainly had the chances to make it happen, but that looping header to send United into the break with the lead was key. It wasn't quite the caliber of goal as Gomez' spectacular finish in the same style of a year or so past, but it was still a difficult bit of skill. And props to Mr. Burch for delivering the service--he certainly looked much more impressive today than he has in his last few outings, almost providing a Burch Bomb when that free kick shivered the bar.
* As much as I loved seeing Donovan bloodied by Gallardo, and as much as I love to dump on the kid, you've got to admit that he was at the heart of most that was good for LA. Gallardo may have gotten a goal for DC, but it was Landycakes that took the battle of the number 10's in my book (fisticuffs aside). He's got to be the most complete and dangerous player in the league right now, and as a fan of a US national team that's just about to embark on World Cup qualifying, that's a big positive.
* LA had their chances--I don't think there's a defense in the league that's going to shut them down completely--but for the most part the back line held it together. That mad scramble that ended with Buddle prodding one home smacked of the Keystone Kops defending I've been harping on about, but overall things looked much tighter at the back. Wells even came up with a few decent saves. I'll reserve judgement on his overall performance until I get a more complete look at the match, but for now, at least he's making the search for keeper help a bit less desperate.
* Benny looked lost and winded in his few minutes, but that's entirely to be expected. Seeing him hobbling around on the pitch more than makes up for it. The question is: was that a one off? Is that all we're going to see of him this season, or is there a chance that he works his way back to something resembling full fitness (or as close as the ankles allow)? With Burch looking decent today, and Benny possibly getting back in the picture, we might actually have reasonable depth on the flanks. Still no speed, but quality depth and options sure would be nice.
* 4-1 seems to be "our result". What does that make it now, four times we've run out on the right end of a 4-1? Still, there are two worries that have to intrude on all this post LA-stomping bliss. (1) We've been on such a fantastic run in the league that it's almost a shame to toss a big SuperLiga sandtrap onto the course. Of course, if we can manage to make a decent run at some international silverware . . . And I hate to be a downer, but (2) we still haven't managed a shutout. We did well to limit the Gals to one goal, but a clean sheet sure would be nice.
Well, that's about it from these cheap (and horribly obstructed--GRRRR!) seats. Perhaps I'll be back with some more thoughts when I take a more thorough look at the game, perhaps not. But you should definitely be expecting some mid-season roster analysis posts this week. And don't forget the Open Cup date on Tuesday!