Let’s begin with this: United got lucky. Sure, sure, they probably shaded the quantity of chances overall and were easily the better team in the second half, but Montreal had better looks. Slightly more accuracy in their finishing, and Benny’s got more cause to question his rotation policy than he’ll already be doing tonight.
That said, it’s hard to argue that anybody on the United side (Korb’s first half misery, Najar and Boskovic’s rustiness, DeLeon’s running out of steam, and a reversion to mean for Woolard aside) didn’t have the quality to be a starter. But the lack of minutes showed on those brought in, and I’m taking no bets that an unchanged lineup (injury-enforced swaps excepted) puts up a much more cohesive showing and gets all three points.
Given the tilt with New York at the weekend however, and the reasonable depth that United possesses, I can understand the rationale of going with the team that Benny did. Doesn’t make dropping points at home to expansion-fodder any more palatable though…
All credit to Santos. He’s done more than enough to have a strangle-hold on a starting position. When his arrival was announced, I was critical, wondering how a player who seemed so lazy in previous MLS stints was going to deal with the Olsen ethos. But he’s worked hard, contributing excellent hold up play, a physical presence in the box, and critical goals to boot, two of them, including tonight’s, manufactured out of absolutely nothing.
Boskovic can hit some useful balls into the box from deeper wide areas and is tough to knock off the ball, but he’s just too slow for the style that United wants to play. True, you can say that Santos’ general energy, confidence, and hold-up play tilted the field once he came on, but De Rosario’s increased dynamism in the a-mid role stretched Montreal defensively, opening space and disrupting their ability their links between midfield and attack. I still prefer De Rosario as a withdrawn forward, but it’s hard to argue that there are better options for United in central midfield at the moment.
After the first half, I was all set to unleash on Korb as looking completely out of his depth, but he started the second like a house on fire, hitting excellent crosses and probing long balls, making good tackles, and generally not putting a foot wrong. Until his aerial weakness was exploited…again. If Korb is at right back and I’m the opposition coach, I tell my right wingers to cross to the back stick as often as possible. Of course, the cross should have been closed down better in the first place, but still…
You’ve got to think that Dudar vs. Corradi would have been a much more useful matchup for United. The Italian was dominant in the air against United’s center backs.
Standard service has resumed vis-a-vis Woolard after a couple of really solid outings. His positioning was generally good, but a couple of shocking technical fails demonstrated his “quality.” Adequate MLS squad player. Shouldn’t be a starter.
DeLeon was looking gassed, and Pontius looked most effective when he pulled wide. I expect DeLeon will get a well-earned rest, and Pontius will start on the left against New York.
Willis looked shaky on crosses and corners. Strange considering that’s been once of his strengths in his recent run of good form.
I’m sure there’s more that I’m missing or have forgotten in my allergy-induced haze, but bed is calling, so I’ll leave things there…
After the comeback against the Revs, I wasn’t alone in the feeling that last year we would have found a way to lose that game. I have similar feelings here. Coming as late as it did and against the general run of play in the second half, Corradi’s go-ahead goal could have been a killer. Instead, United kept up the pressure and were rewarded with the equalizer.
Of course, sometimes luck or fate or whatever you want to call it has to play its part as well, and Arnaud hitting wide from that late corner that pinged around the box certainly reeked of that. Almost as if, on this night in particular, United losing wasn’t an option.
Descanse en paz, Chico.