EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions below are those of Soccer Outsider Jeff Maurer and not Soccer Insider Steven Goff.
This should be our Marlo Stanfield game. Just like Marlo ended the Wire (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the Wire. And the spoiler alert is this: you’ve been watching the wrong shows for the last several years) beating down a small-time pusher just to show he still can, D.C. United should put the smack-down on Montreal tonight just to prove we still have it. We really should take this opportunity — the “still” in that last sentence goes back to 2009. What’s the statute of limitations on the word “still”?
But, really: at home, against an expansion team, on a four-game unbeaten streak? We should win this game. In order for me to believe that we’ve taken a real step forward since last year, we need to win this game.
Ben’s lineup takes advantage of United’s depth, which is smart since we have three games in eight days. The lineup is: Willis | Woolard, McDonald, Russell, Korb | DeLeon, Kitchen, Najar, Boskovic | De Rosario, Pontius. What do you think of the back line? It doesn’t matter: those are the only four guys available. If a defender gets injured I think one of the U-9s from the halftime show gets put into the match.
And we’re off...
9’ - I’ll say that both teams are “feeling each other out,” which is what you say when neither team can mount a competent attack.
17’ - Still lots of feeling out going on here. It’s like a school for the blind here — lots of feeling.
18’ - Upon further review, I stand behind that last joke. Blind people feel things. They do. It’s not insulting, it’s true. Also, a blind person can’t really read this column, so I’ll probably get away with it.
19’ - Upon further review, I do not stand behind that last joke. Sorry about that one.
21’ - Montreal applying some pressure that ends with a shot over the bar. United need more aggression. They need more...what would Ben say? More pique. More edge. They need more pungency, more guts, more lacerating properties, if you will.
31’ - De Ro crosses for Najar, and Najar at least sends it in the direction of the goal (if the goal was in section 217).
33’ - Tony Limarzi gets it exactly right. I’m paraphrasing here: “De Ro needs the ball to his feet. He needs to have the ball on the ground so he can move and pick out passes. Also, Chipotle needs to bring back that Free Burrito on Tax Day promotion.” Again, I’m paraphrasing, but the points are absolutely correct.
35’ - De Ro validates Johnson’s points with a good run and shot after which he picks up a burrito and then tells all his friends about Chipotle so it really pays for itself in the long run if you think about it.
41’ - June 17, 2009 was the last time United played a game after winning a game without me having to cite that stupid “United haven’t won two games in a row since...” stat.
Halftime: 0-0. If we apply my Marlo Stanfield analogy to this game, then Marlo and the kid are currently engaged in a sissy-boy slap fight on the corner of Edmundson and Ashburton.
48’ - De Ro goes one on one with the ‘keeper, but Ricketts wins the duel! Nice job by Ricketts. He’s very agile for a man named “Ricketts”.
53’ - Too bad NBC isn’t covering this match — I’d love for them to catch a few Quebequois curse words with their patented on-field obscenity-capturing microphones. I’d love to hear someone call the linesman a [redacted].
54’ - Now I can’t think about anything other than whether the word [redacted] will get past the Post’s editors. If it does, I may have found a major loophole. (Editor’s note: Nice try, Maurer!)
61’ - Santos comes in for Boskovic, and Ben comments on the switch as part of MLS’s “annoy the coach” segment: “Boskovic had a good shift, he was just a little leggy.” I agree with Ben, as I usually do. And if you asked me what makes a good coach, I wouldn’t say “wins and losses,” I’d say “agreeing with me.”
68’ - Goal Montreal! 1-0. We were playing better this half, and yet we’re suddenly down a goal. Bad defense: if Neagle (who played the cross) or Corradi (who headed it home) were given any more real estate, Will Chang would have approached them with a stadium plan. Korb completely misplayed the ball.
72’ - Goal United! 1-1! It’s Santos, from very long range. Great strike — he must have been 30 yards out. Ricketts probably should have had it, but he didn’t, which means it’s cliche time: you can’t win the raffle if you don’t buy a ticket. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly (that one gets included because it’s from RFK — the guy, not the stadium).
73’ - I may have mentioned that — because of my years in the Northwest — I’m a Seattle Mariners fan (I probably didn’t mention that — I don’t go yelling that from the mountaintops). Let me offer this: Maicon Santos is Michael Morse. The Mariners cut Morse and nobody really thought much about it until all of a sudden he showed up hitting 30 home runs for the Nationals. A lot of teams have passed on Maicon Santos — it’d be great if he suddenly rounds into form while wearing our shirt.
84’ - Finally, America gets what we’ve been demanding: an appearance from Lewis Neal. I can hear the champagne corks popping in MLS headquarters; finally, a player who can generate some real excitement for the league. I guess that’s harsh; I’m pouring on the sarcasm before he’s even had a touch. I should let him have at least three touches before I give him the Morsink treatment.
86’ - Montreal gets about six consecutive chances off a corner kick but none of them go in. How does this season look so far if one of those goes in and Burch’s header goes in?
89’ - It’s in the net but the flag is up! Santos is offside. I’m glad we don’t get jerked around like that in other parts of our lives: “It’s a girl! No no no, just kidding, false alarm.” The call looked right. Not much excuse for Santos to be off there — he could see the whole play.
Full time: 1-1 loss. And United have still not won two consecutive games since a czar ruled Russia.
Willis: 6. I’m a little surprised we didn’t see Hamid tonight, but Willis has also given Ben no reason to put him on the bench.
Woolard: 5. Though he’s slow, he’s great at using his arms to slow down his opponents without committing a foul.
McDonald: 4.5. When we have trouble playing the ball out of the back — and that’s been an epidemic this year — McDonald is the main culprit.
Russell: 5. Not bad, especially considering he was playing out of position.
Korb: 4. Pretty good game — his crossing, especially — but, man, did he whiff on that goal. But that’s how life goes; nobody remembers the pretzels George W. Bush didn’t choke on.
DeLeon: 5.5. I’m pretty sure Montreal actually game-planned for DeLeon. They were double teaming him and closing him down quickly.
Kitchen: 4. Scrappy game; he wasn’t sharp. Even for a 20-year-old, he’s already put a lot of miles on his legs in this young season.
Najar: 4. Najar is an enigma. Did he pull an Al Bundy, i.e. peak at 17?
Boskovic: 6. Nice to see him playing better; having him live up to expectations would be a huge boost for this team.
Pontius: 4. This was his audition as a target striker. Tobias Funke has had better auditions than the one Pontius had tonight.
De Ro: 6. Listen to Lamarzi: get the ball to his feet.
Santos: 6. He has to be the bargain buy of the season so far, not counting those generic ussoccershop.com uniforms that Montreal were wearing.
Cruz: 4.5. I’m sure we’ll see him against New York on Sunday.
Neal: 10. Surely, that was a performance none of us will ever forget. He reminds me of Fred in that the generic first name on his jersey makes it look like he plays for a rec-league team.