Well, we can finally retire the “no back-to-back wins since the turn of the decade” refrain. This won’t be a long or detailed reaction as I tuned in just in time to see Santos head home his first and missed chunks of the game due to family commitments (would it be callous to call them distractions instead?). Instead, let me harken back to the archaic Good, Bad & Ugly format. Given that I probably last dragged out said format back around the time United was posting consecutive wins, it seems appropriate…
- Resilience. I, and others – including members of the team, have gone to the “we would have lost this game last year” well more than once this year. But there’s a reason it keeps cropping up. Last year – hell, the last three years – United would have conceded the equalizer and then failed the gut-check, falling to the inevitable opposition winner. This year, they get their noses back in front twice and looked much more likely to score the next goal than Houston did down the stretch. That latest bit was actually the most pleasing part of this game for me. Instead of going into the early Soehn-bunker, United kept pressing (though not stupidly) for another goal, and that was where…
- De Rosario shined. Not sure his “goal” didn’t skim Pontius’ stylish coif, but that didn’t really matter. This was the first game of the young 2012 season where De Rosario looked like the reigning MVP. Skill in tight spaces, drawing defenders out of position and leaving them screwed into the turf, spraying balls to wide areas and forward runners, making intelligent runs without the ball. Terrific stuff.
- Santos’ energy and movement were excellent, and he combined really well with the players running off him. But it’s the goals that are key. How long has it been since United had a player scoring this many with his head? Here’s hoping he stays hungry and motivated.
- Before Dudar fell to the Bum Hammy Hammer, Houston weren’t getting much change through the middle or in the air. With him gone, gaps started appearing and the long ball to the Dynamo forwards wasn’t a lost cause anymore. If he’s down for any significant amount of time, we’re going to suffer. Figures that he would pull up lame on the back of effusive (and deserved) praise from Harkes in the broadcast booth about the quality of his positioning and distribution.
- Of perhaps similar concern was the highway Houston was paving down their left flank in the second half. Kitchen looked a bit lost, failing to close down the crosser quickly enough on the first and turning the ball over to set up the second. On a number of other occasions he got caught out of position, either too high or too central. Is this next stretch of games where the lack of fullback depth finally raises its ugly mug?
- Danny Cruz is a perpetual motion machine, but he’s also a card magnet and generally commits at least one cringe-worthy challenge per game, if not more. Some of these yellows are going to start turning red. It’s just the luck of the whistleman draw they haven’t already.
- Willis, though he generally had a decent game, needs to take the blame for the second (conditions understood and willfully ignored as I’m not in the keepers’ union) and probably could have come to claim the cross on the first. He’s also not as quick off his line as Hamid, which led to a couple of scary moments. Is that enough to get Hamid back between the posts?
- Given the cliched “slippery as an ice rink” condition of the pitch, we really needed Jakovic out there so we could outnumber the Dynamo on the vital “more Canadians fielded” statistic. Hockey? Canada? Cliche? Sigh.
Frankly, I’m left a bit confused in the wake of this victory. Having suffered through the last few years, I can’t help but feel that the fall is coming. I couldn’t help feeling it was coming in this match as well. Each time Houston equalized, I prepped the iron underpants for the pain that was sure to follow. It’s strange to be watching the guys in black mounting successful rallies rather than succumbing to sucker-punches. Not sure how long it’s going to take to either (1) get used to this or (2) develop any realistic sense of optimism, but in the meantime…
Harkes also was laying it on thick for Willis just prior to the slick ball skittering through his gloves for Houston’s second. Burn the witch! ↩