I think the McCarty addition is going to be key. Last year we could choose between having a combative central midfield or stick Boskovic in to prompt but thereby leaving his partner, and by extension the rest of the defense, exposed. Also, Boskovic is more of a connecter of balls in tight spaces, not a prompter from distance, which McCarty is. Consequently, the way Boskovic wants to play (and can be most effective in an attacking sense) requires him to be further up the pitch when playing a central role. McCarty's string pulling allows him to operate effectively from a deeper position, meaning United usually had numbers back against the counter, often a weakness last year.
Jakovic also looked good, both defensively and in picking out balls to advanced players. Particularly encouraging was the one burst forward into the opposition box. I remember him stepping out from the back line on a number of occasions in his first season and hope to see more of that this year, particularly with two deep central mids ahead of him providing a solid base for doing so.
Najar had me worried for the first 15 minutes or so. He looked petulant and lacking the hard-nosed effort of his rookie year. Also, his touch seemed unusually heavy and he didn't look willing to take on defenders. Fortunately, that seemed to change as the match wore on. Still, the seed of doubt has been planted in my mind. He's still awfully young to have experienced the type of success he did. Here's hoping I'm just being my natural pessimistic self.
Despite combining for the winning goal, I wasn't particularly enamored of the Wolff-Ngwenya strike force. They never looked particularly threatening. Likewise the fullbacks, who did little to impress, particularly 1v1 defensively and with what, one or two decent crosses between them? Or is that being too generous? The other glaring weakness for me was in defending set pieces, where United never looked really comfortable.
Overall impressions? Some good spells of possession. An encouraging performance from McCarty. Two goals resulting from getting behind the defense — something we failed to do often enough last year. A reasonable defensive effort spoiled by a terribly soft penalty. Not a bad outing.
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PS: Am I the only one who winces whenever Charlie Davies heads a ball? I mean, just knowing about how he came by those scars. Makes me queasy just thinking about it.