Well, that was satisfying. Let’s get right to the talking points, shall we?
Four goals is nice, but more impressive for me is the defensive performance. Henry and Cooper came into this game averaging more than a goal a game – each! They got very few good looks tonight, and most of those from distance. True, Henry managed to pad his goal tally, but he did so from a set piece when the match was all but won. The difference between having Russell on the back stick rather than Korb was telling when the crosses came flying in (28 according to mlssoccer.com’s stats, vs. just 12 for United), but the effect of the return of Dudar can’t be ignored either. Metrobull crosses and long balls turned into lost causes, his range of distribution was excellent, and he made a number of nice reads on the deck, stepping up to cut out potentially dangerous passes.
Is Pontius the answer up top? It’s long been my contention that Pontius is Dempsey-like in that his best position is debatable (and, of course, the positions he plays are the same). It’s hard to argue with results. Salihi may be pulling down the DP coin, but he’s yet to bag a goal. In significantly fewer minutes, Pontius has four playing as a forward. His movement and ability on the dribble make him a better foil for Santos as well. I’m not going to argue that signing Salihi was a mistake (yet). I still think he has a role to play and will figure things out as he adapts to the league. When the other strikers hit a barren patch, he’ll get his chance, and it’s a luxury to have a proven, veteran goal-scorer in reserve.
I’m not so certain about Boskovic though. He just doesn’t fit the high-energy approach that Olsen favors. And I find it telling that in a situation that seemed tailor made for Boskovic’s talents (late-game lead, time to slow things down and play possession), Olsen called on King to spell De Rosario.
Imagine, if you will, another night and a ref less tolerant of the physical stuff or more easily intimidated by the names on the shirts (Henry…cough, cough). I could easily see the first and third goals never being allowed to happen and United suffering a couple of marginal PK calls. Kudos to Geiger for letting them play.
McDonald is often wasteful in possession, defaulting to the aimless long ball. Though that worked out in our favor once tonight, I’d like to see more of the technical pairing of Jakovic (striding out of defense with the ball at his feet) with Dudar (prompting the attack with searching balls sprayed to the flanks). That assumes, of course, that Jakovic can manage a stretch of games without suffering an injury.
After an off-night in midweek where it looked like he might be hitting a bit of a rookie wall, DeLeon bounced back with another good performance (and another goal).
Still not convinced by Woolard, but he was only exposed a few times against Richards, who could probably finish the 40m twice before Woolard crossed the line once.
Once again, it’s hard to fault Cruz for effort and defensive tracking, but with the ball at his feet…sigh. Can we somehow fuse the best of Cruz and Najar?
After the next match we’ll be more than a quarter of the way into the season. United sits second in the Eastern Conference, in solid playoff position, but a quick glance at the table shows that everybody behind United (save Montreal) have games in hand. Still, six games unbeaten, a firm beat-down of the big rival, and letting in less than a goal a game (and conceding few good chances to boot, not just riding their luck)? I’ll take that.
And makes you really rue that he couldn’t play midweek. Corradi wouldn’t have won nearly as many aerial duels with Dudar on the pitch. ↩
Interestingly, I needed to rely on a Polish-language stream for a little bit of this match (don’t ask), and I heard repeated mention of what sounded like “weenie sack.” I can only imagine that the announcer was discussing the suspended Rafa Marquez. ↩
Otherwise known as the Burch Special. ↩