Apologies for the lack of a reaction post this weekend – the family took precedence. Having caught a replay, the meat of said post would have revolved around the change in the game after Kitchen’s injury.
It would be facile, however, to blame the loss entirely on his departure. The still-incomplete back line, the heat, and a stuttering (and banged up) attack conspired to tilt the balance in Houston’s favor. But you’d have to be wearing blinders to not have seen the shift in possession following his injury and the fact that Brad Davis’s winner, tremendous shot though it may have been, came from the area of the field Kitchen usually patrols.
We have no news as of yet on how long Kitchen will be on the shelf, but I’ve been doing a back-of-the-envelope review of the season thus far, and it’s left me deeply worried if he’s out for a significant patch of the summer (if not worse).
With Kitchen starting in midfield, United have posted 5 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses. One of those losses was the latest to Houston, where the winner was scored after his departure. With Kitchen either not on the field (owing to Olympic qualifiers) or starting in defense rather than midfield, United are winless – one draw, two losses. Those numbers don’t bode well for a Kitchen-less United, do they?
They get worse if you factor De Rosario and Boskovic into the equation. Why? Because in the games where Kitchen was paired with Boskovic from the start, United have one draw and one loss. That means the De Rosario - Kitchen central midfield axis is 5–1–1 with the solitary loss being the one just suffered.
Draw from that what you will. The obvious conclusion is that sans De Rosario and Kitchen we’re screwed (which should have already been painfully obvious). But it also highlights how minimal Boskovic’s impact has been. Remember, he’s on DP money and his contract runs out this summer.
Time to watch and wait. If the news on Kitchen is really bad, does that make shopping for a d-mid a priority during the transfer window (or via trade)? True, we have depth in numbers (Saragosa, Morsink [sigh], King in a pinch), but our record without Kitchen would suggest that maybe that depth isn’t adequate. Pretty stunning when you think that he had next to no experience as an MLS midfielder prior to this season.
And again, the game-winner was scored against United after Kitchen had been forced out of the game. ↩