United have shown over the last three weeks that they can come back in a variety of styles. With heart and grit? See the draw against the Revs. With persistence and a touch of fortune? See last week's win over New York. And now we've seen it done with skill, as the Godfather of Goals, Jaime Moreno, adds two more to his league-best goal tally to lead the way in a 2-1 victory over Dallas.
Talking Points? Sure, I have a few.
* Jaime's second was class all around. And while it was great to see him score the delicate chip, it warmed the cockles of my cynical old heart to watch Gomez slot the ball through for Jaime to finish. In fact, much of what Christian did tonight coming off the bench was promising. Holding the ball, prompting the attack, even hitting a swerving missile from distance. All were reminiscent of the Gomez we used to know. Before I close off my gushing over the old fogies, can I have a moment to consider that break in the first half when Jaime's patience almost paid off with the opener? That is the Moreno that I love to watch and have loved watching lo these many years. Obvious choice for Man of the Match.
* Emilio, on the other hand, didn't exactly justify his DP dollars tonight. He had two golden opportunities, a one-on-one with Burse and a point-blank header. Neither of which were finished. And finishing is what we pay him the DP bucks for. Those are the goals we need to kill off games that the opposition has no right still being in as we come down the final stretch. Still, he worked hard, often being left on his own up top as Jaime dropped deep. And that counts for something, I suppose. The question becomes: if this is indeed the start of another frigid streak from Emilio, do we have the depth in attack this year to overcome it?
* Count Burchula? Despite United's early domination, van den Bergh was getting in some dangerous crosses, really the only chances that Dallas had in the early going. Fortunately, they all seemed to find the head of Dax McCarty, who promptly wasted them. Still, how in the hell does Dax freakin' McCarty, who might be his listed 5'9" if he Robert Smiths his hair, and isn't blessed with a massive vertical either, beat the 6'1" and infinitely more solidly framed Burch in the air? Any counterpoint, Comrade Shatz? ;-)
* Mirror image? Did anybody else start to get a sinking feeling that we were about to see last week in reverse? Dallas kept dumping balls in the box and we were scrambling mightily to keep them out. Despite our struggles at the end, I was a little more pleased with the way we kept putting on pressure after we took the lead. Similarly, I like Soehn's aggressiveness in bringing on the more attack-minded Gomez for Olsen when the latter ran out of gas. So do we then forgive him for pulling off both of his starting forwards in defense of the lead? Probably, considering their age, expenditure of energy, and the fact that we still had two capable forwards (Pontius and Quaranta) on the field. The assassin's instinct to finish off matches still isn't there, but at least we're getting results.
Quick Hits? Why not?
* Namoff, King of Assists? For the second week running, a Namoff ball over the top leads to a goal. In fact, there was another pass he sent through that really should have been pinged on frame.
* Learning Experience. In his first few games, Rodney Wallace didn't close down well enough on the wings. He seems to have worked that out, primarily by hacking down opponents. Now he's got to work on defending corners, because he needs to challenge Rocha more on Dallas' goal.
* Punch Drunk? Seems like Kocic never met a corner...or a cross...or a ball lobbed into the box, that he didn't want to punch. Dude, you're 6'4" and 200 lbs! Go claim that ball!
* And One to Grow On. Jakovic is growing into his role every week. His calm on the ball, positional sense, and aerial ability have been one of the surprising highlights of the young season.
As I write this, the whistle just blew on Chicago's draw with Seattle, meaning that DC United will end the weekend atop the Eastern Conference. Sure, we're only ahead of TFC by virtue of goal difference, but come on! Who would have thought that we'd be atop the conference nearly a quarter of the way into the season?
Now comes a testing stretch of games. DC has demonstrated a surprising amount of quality depth thus far, dealing with an early season injury crisis and discovering that, for once, our draft may just have paid off. We have weapons. The defense is starting to gel. The bench isn't an empty cupboard. But far be it from me to leap to Bretosian assumptions of our MLS Cup credentials or of having the most depth in the league. There are still too many questions about finishing off games, goalkeeping, and coaching for me to be trotting out the high horse. Still, the fact that I'm anywhere near the stable at this point is a pleasant surprise. And that's something, isn't it?