God, that felt good. The losing streak ends at four, and it's back to winning ways in the league as United holds serve at home against KC. Missing a big chunk of the starting lineup to suspension and injury, I suppose any sort of win would have been acceptable tonight. Still, there was something vaguely unsatisfying about the 2-0 victory, but we'll get to that. To the talking points, my fine-feathered friends . . .
* Sweet Jebus, a shutout at long last! So what was the key to getting the shutout? Was it the added hustle and steel in midfield with the addition of Vide and Guerrero? Was it Wells making the big saves when he was called upon? Was it going with a single-nationality back line (and keeper) that featured none of our Sudamericano brethren and the attendant miscommunication? Some combination of the above? Wells did make some fantastic saves, but he was also guilty of a few brain farts that should have been punished. And KC's finishing was downright pathetic at times. Still, finally pitching a shutout should do wonders for the confidence of the beleaguered back line.
* The new boys are alright. Guerrero was excellent, considering the few short days he's had with the team. The instant understanding with Moreno was of particular note, but the addition of a wide threat that gets back on defense and works his socks off brought the benefits I was looking for. In fact, the 5'7" midfielder winning a header is what set the table for Emilio's opener. Vide also looked useful, bringing hard work and tough tackling to the midfield, as well as a eye for the long ball into space. I'll temper that by saying that I also thought he was a bit reckless at times, and many of his long balls either found KC players or went out of play.
* When the confidence started to flow, United started to look like themselves again. Some of the passing was pretty to watch, particularly the sequence late in the first half that should have resulted in a goal for Moreno, only to come off the post. Both strikers were in particularly impressive form, and if we can get Doe and Quaranta back from injury to keep those lethal weapons fresh, the attack should continue to be sharp. While 8 shots, with only 3 on frame should be a slight worry, I'll note that we were playing with two defensive-minded central midfielders, and we could have had a lot more shots if were playing with a bit more urgency and managed to stifle the urge to dance and dink about trying to set up the perfect chance.
* Despite the shutout, there were wobbles aplenty--both from the back line and from Wells in net. At no point did I ever feel confident about getting the shutout. If Espinoza or Arnaud had their finishing boots on, we'd have shipped at least one goal, if not more. But, as fragile as we seemed at times, United never broke, which serves to banish that particular monkey from the collective Black-and-Red back.
* While our possession was pretty at times, it was also inconsistent. There were passages where we held onto the ball really well, but at other times we looked like a bunch of Dyachenkos out there. Fred and Vide would come in for particular criticism, but Guerrero proved his worth in this department time and again, protecting the ball and making the smart pass rather than trying the outlandish.
So . . . let's take that big sigh of relief, enjoy being back on the winning track again, and get ready for the MetroBulls next weekend. Martinez and Peralta should be back in the mix, allowing for more options at the back. I don't expect we'll be seeing a flowering of dynamic attacking football until Gallardo (and, to a lesser extent, Quaranta) is back in the mix, but we've got enough about us to get results, particularly against the likes of a struggling New York side.