Better Late than Never? | a DC United Match Reaction

Apologies for the lateness of the match reaction. I was beholden to Match Day Live for this one, and the ridiculous "local blackout" applied (sigh). In any case, I do have a few thoughts, but I won't belabor any points. Quick and dirty time. Ready?

* Stars of the Show - Sure, Davies gets all the plaudits in the world for a brace on his return, but for my money it was Pontius and Wolff (WTF?!? Really?) that were a cut above. Both just looked sharp on the ball and played quickly and with confidence. Last year, it was Najar that had that look. In this match? He had it in flashes. But I also saw those same signs that worried me in pre-season. God, I hope the kid isn't coming down with a nasty strain of the CRons. In other attacking player news...

* Sit Ngwenya - Terrible. Heavy doesn't describe the first touch. Spent ages making decisions. Put any attempted finish into orbit. Two other strikers managed to score in this game, and Brettschneider tallied in the reserve game. I'll take those three and toss Quaranta and Pontius and Najar on the pile of guys I'd like to see line up at forward before Ngwenya gets another shot. Bleck!

* Win Ugly - Not so many great chances created, but the difference (and I know it's one game, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume a trend) is the ability to finish what few chances come along [1]. After some of the slick, quick, possession play in Charleston, I was disappointed to see so few coherent passages of play. Also, the incisive through balls were missing from the equation. Plenty of scrap, too little quality. I'm hoping that's just first game jitters in front of the noisy home crowd, but our goals were the result more of bad defending than good approach play. Still, the finishing (Ngwenya aside) was solid. Also solid?

* Solid "D" - Outside of the questionable penalty, the Crew had few good chances, and though the defense bent, it never really broke, with last minute heroism and a few moments of luck spackling the gaps. Here's hoping the Bum Hammy Hammer didn't come down too hard on Zayner.

* Armband deserved - McCarty didn't play particularly well. He was on the ball a lot and fought hard, but his passing wasn't connecting the dots like it was in Charleston. That said, putting the ball in Davies' hands for a decisive PK [2] demonstrates exactly why Olsen gave him the armband. If Davies manages a 10-15 goal season (or, dare we hope, better), I'll look back at this moment as the one that launched him there.

* Weaknesses abound - Our crossing was nothing much. Not that it would have mattered. Crew defenders were cutting them out or winning ever header anyway. Maybe Brettschneider or Pontius in the box makes a difference in that equation? On a semi-related note, set pieces were weak in both directions. McCarty's delivery wasn't good. Nobody really attacked the ball. Defensively, if we were going to break, it was going to come via a corner or free kick. This was a problem in South Carolina as well. Worrying trend.

So not the most optimistic of reactions to a 3-1 win in the season opener. There are certainly positives to be taken. The finishing and defending were both better. By contrast, the strength (if there could be said to be one) of last year's team was in the middle third, a strength sadly lacking here. Still, last year we could win that middle third and still get hammered because of weaknesses in the attacking and defensive thirds. gain? Perhaps. I think the passing will get sharper moving forward, so we may yet prove stronger in the middle as well. For now, I revel (albeit cautiously) in (1) a win, (2) a three-goal performance, and (3) Davies getting off the mark.

Vamos United!

* * * 

[1] That, and a generous dollop of luck. Last year we were the ones hitting posts or suffering from "superkeeper syndrome." Karma or fortune favoring the brave?

[2] Both Charlie and Benny mention McCarty's involvement in the post-match quotes. McCarty, at least in the selected quotes and to his great credit, does not. Class.


  1. It would be hard to craft a scenario more appropriate for showing a captain's mettle than the PK situation. Dax, given the opportunity, made like Alexander or Hammarabi - of such things legends are born.

    The whole thing gives me hope.

  2. Not that I'm a huge fan of Ngwenya, but the word is that he was playing with a knock after the first few minutes. Assuming that's true, I'd be inclined to give him a mulligan and see how he is in another game before making an absolute judgment.

  3. I'm inclined to give Ngwenya a pass for this game. He was stellar in preseason, so I think we can give him one bad game.

    Unfortunately, I can't see any scenario where he starts ahead of Davies or Wolff again. Ngwenya might be better as a second half sub anyways.

  4. I don't know that I'd go as far as stellar. I'm also basing much of my opinion of Ngwenya on his past body of work, much of which was on the order of Saturday's performance. Are there moments of quality? Yes. (proof). They don't happen often enough to make him a starter. Sub, as Jeremy suggests? Absolutely.

    Didn't know about the knock, so thanks for that, rob. We shall see. I'm just glad we can find the net at this point.