Soccer Outsider: United-San Jose match diary, player ratings

June 25, 2013

At this point, I’m counting on sheer statistical inevitability to end D.C. United’s winless streak (which stood at 13 MLS games heading into Saturday night’s game against San Jose). It can’t keep going like this. Something will give. We’ll get the Stan van den Buijs own-goal hat trick in our favor. Our opponent will eat some dodgy lasagna, or show up at RFK Middle School in Washington, Vt., or score 149 protest own-goals, or something. An infinite amount of monkeys given an infinite amount of time will eventually score enough goals to beat somebody.

Actually, what are the MLS rules regarding monkey-signing? They can’t perform worse than our current crop of strikers.

United’s lineup: Hamid | Rochat, Woolard, White, Korb | Porter, Thorrington, Kitchen, DeLeon | Pontius, Townsend. Sadly, no monkeys. Pontius is back, so of course De Ro is out; I believe they’re sharing one hamstring at this point.

Here’s kickoff from RFK Memorial Library in Washington Terrace, Utah (I’m trying to get some misdirection going)…

1’ - As an unofficial comedy/soccer blogger for The Washington Post, I feel the need to say: I am unaware of the whereabouts of Edward Snowden. He’s certainly not hiding in my garden shed and living off of pancakes that I slide under the door.

2’ - Thorrington’s hospital ball results in a yellow card for Porter. Yellow card in the second minute – Jermaine Jones would be proud.

5’ - Comcast is doing a great job with the bleak statistics: De Rosario, DeLeon and Pontius have started together only twice this year. United has only led for 41 minutes all season. I’ve got a few more for you: I have 16 holes in the wall behind my TV from throwing the remote while watching this team. I’ve told seven Kid ‘N Play jokes about Lionard Pajoy for every goal he’s scored. If you had a nickel for every goal United has conceded on a set piece, you’d have enough money to buy that striker it needs.

8’ - Penalty kick for United! Korb’s bad touch leads to a good result, as Morrow’s tackle gets none of the ball and all of Korb. Nice buildup: Townsend stole it and then Porter, Pontius, Thorrington all contributed to Korb’s fortunate mugging.

9’ - Pontius will take the kick, hoping to score his — sigh — first goal this year. He steps up … it’s nestled in the twine (don’t want to steal Dave Johnson’s “It’s in the net!”)! United has a lead!

10’ - United actually getting a lead is like your dog actually catching a squirrel: Once it has finally happened, will they know what to do?

16’ - United is pressing high, and it’s working. United might have the best defensive strikers in the league, which is like winning the ribbon for Pig With the Best Posture at the county fair.

17’ - Thorrington with a curling shot, and Busch makes a save! Jon Busch is always money against United. Busch was on United’s roster for about 20 minutes in 1999, and all it did was trigger the “great against your ex-team” curse for the next 15 years.

20’ - Many spellings of “John” in this match: the traditional (John Thorrington), the efficient (Jon Busch) and the completely wrong (Adam Jahn). What idiot at Ellis Island spelled “John” with an “a”? Maybe Jahn’s family came to the US through Boston, where all vowels are “a”s.

23’ - The good: Nick DeLeon has been active early. The bad: He has braided his goatee. What’s the name of your rap-metal band, Nick?

36’ - Ethan White is coming off — he had a head injury a few minutes ago, but for some reason play continued. Apparently, referee Jair Marrufo went to the Roger Goodell School of Concussion Awareness.

42’ - Looked up MLS rules about signing monkeys (Article 3, Section D): “Monkeys, gorillas, gibbons, baboons, orangutans, and other primates shall be acquired through the ‘Primate Allocation Process’, which is determined by a weighted lottery in inverse proportion to last season’s record. If the monkey has appeared in more than 50 percent of national team games in the past year, he may participate in a process in which each team’s name is written on a banana, and the first banana selected is the team for which the monkey shall play.”

43’ - Interestingly, there is no rule saying that a golden retriever can’t play soccer. MLS has no equivalent of the NBA’s “Air Bud” rule.

44’ - This ridiculousness about monkeys and golden retrievers is what you get when the team isn’t compelling. Don’t blame me, blame Dave Kasper.

Halftime: 1-0 United. Good first half – we were the better team. Alain Rochat (who strangely doesn’t like someone calling him up and saying: “You live on a different coast in a different country now. You leave in an hour.”) has been good.

46’ - Coach Ben Olsen was just on TV talking about “staying focused” and “playing the right way” with this 1-0 lead. Translation: “The odds of us scoring another goal are the same as the odds of Paula Deen hosting the Source Awards, so we need to stay compact and try to hang on and win 1-0.”

48’ - Pontius hustles hard to win a ball down the wing, though the attack peters out. Pontius’s stylistic comparable — and it’s a flattering one — is Gareth Bale. He’s not Gareth Bale, but he’s a strong, fast guy who is hard to stop once he gets going.

72’ - Jahn with a lahng (pronounced “long”) shot off the post! United is being tested – Hamid is doing his jahb (pronounced “job”).

74’ - Does Porter have depth perception problems? His crosses are always over-hit. United needs to get him some Kurt Rambis glasses.

81’ - Rochat with a chat (pronounced “shot”), but it’s blocked! They say “good teams win 1-0”. Well, then United needs a second goal, because United is not a good team.

82’ - Unfortunately, the ensuing corner lands in a harmless spot: at Pajoy’s feet.

86’ - Gordon’s volley goes just over the bar! I’m nervous because I feel like United might never be in this spot again. It’s the same feeling I had when I was 10 and was very close to beating a video game.

90’ + 3’ - Morrow with a good look, but it goes over the bar! That’s what it took to end the streak: some luck.

Full time: 1-0 United. We started a lineup similar to the ones we used at the end of last year, and we got a similar result.

Player ratings:

Hamid: 6. Was nowhere on a late corner but got away with it. Did everything else right.

Rochat: 7. He’s very sound on the ball for a fullback. He does a good job turning defense into offense.

Woolard: 7. Gutsy game; won every challenge.

White: 6. Was strong and mistake-free; hopefully his injury isn’t serious.

Korb: 5. Active as always, but was a little sloppy in his defensive positioning.

Porter: 4. Overcooks his crosses like Denny’s overcooks a steak.

Kitchen: 5.5. Imagine how this lineup would fall apart if Perry Kitchen got injured.

Thorrington: 7.5. I was hard on him last week, so obviously a “make Jeff look like an idiot” match was a mortal lock.

DeLeon: 0. I would have given him a five, but I subtracted five points for the goatee.

Pontius: 7.5. His play probably deserved a six, but I’m bumping him up because that was a gutsy performance. He clearly wasn’t match fit, but he stayed in because United needed him.

Townsend: 4.5. Wasn’t involved much, but I still think he’s the best available option.

Shanosky: 4.5. Several of his attempts to link up with the strikers led to San Jose counter-attacks. He needs to learn that players move faster in MLS than in the USL.

Pajoy: 4.5. If you got airline miles for time spent offside, Pajoy would have a free ticket to Fiji by now.

Kemp: No rating.

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