Soccer Outsider: United-Rapids match diary, player ratings

July 9, 2013

I was honestly depressed to see D.C. United vs. Colorado on the schedule for Sunday night. That meant that my long weekend would begin with Wednesday’s flaccid defeat in Seattle and end with United’s inevitable aesthetic horror show against Colorado. The problem isn’t just that United is bad: it’s bad and boring. United plays soccer the way Russia fights a war: Dig in, withstand a few dozen waves of attack and hope the other guy gets tired of wading through bodies and gives up.

Tonight’s cannon fodder: Willis | Kemp, Woolard, White, Riley | Porter, Kitchen, Thorrington, Nyassi | Pontius, Ruiz. It’s a rare night off for minutes-leader Chris Korb. What’s next: no Perry Kitchen? Actually, given United’s injury luck this year, no Perry Kitchen is almost certainly next.

Here’s kickoff from Colorado. I hope the ref has a good game, because at altitude Coach Ben Olsen’s blood will boil more even quickly than at sea level.

1’ - I have a theory about why Olsen hasn’t been fired. I think that maybe before the season started he said to management what so many of us have said: That United needs at least one, and probably two, quality attacking players. If so, United’s complete inability to score — and United scores about as often as a Buddhist monk — would validate Olsen’s player assessment. It’d be like being the person at Disney who said, “This John Carter movie is a bad idea.”

2’ - There is another theory as to why Olsen hasn’t been fired: United’s management is too cheap to hire a new coach. That theory is also compelling.

11’ - Willis makes a great reaction save off a deflection! That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, Willis! Because, you see, there was this show … Gary Coleman would always say this thing … I’ll see myself out.

14’ - Colorado’s jersey is sponsored by Holding Out for a Big-Name Sponsor That Doesn’t Exist. Just swallow your pride and take that Slap Chop sponsorship, Colorado.

25’ - A simple fake beats Taylor Kemp, but Willis saves the ensuing shot. I think Kemp was probably added to this lineup with a shrug and the words, “Yeah, sure, what have we got to lose?”

27’ - Olsen is wearing the exact same suit Pete Campbell is wearing in this photo.

30’ - Colorado is gifted a corner off a terrible call, and United gives Colorado a wide-open header on the ensuing corner (that was somehow sent wide). So, almost the Ben Olsen annoyance trifecta: a bad call, a lapse of focus and a set-piece goal. Why not just harpoon him through the heart?

33’ - Colorado sends a header off the post! Porter battled hard with his mark but ultimately failed, which is a pretty good representation of this team right now.

40’ - Pontius will never get the ball up top, so he’s dropped to basically the same depth as Kitchen. And every time he gets the ball he attracts defenders like Starbucks attracts homeless bathers.

Halftime: Zeros all around. Zero scoring, zero entertainment, zero hope that this team will ever amount to anything.

46’ - Put yourself in Ben Olsen’s shoes (which are actually Pete Campbell’s shoes). What can you do? Look at your bench: Dykstra, Korb, Rochat (not anymore!), Shanosky, Towsend, Pajoy. Find an offensive solution in that group. When Olsen looks to his bench for help, his bench says this.

52’ - Willis makes a great diving save! With mediocre goalkeeping it would be 2-0 and completely over right now.

53’ - Ruiz misses a chance! Or I should say THE chance – Ruiz misses THE chance. That will probably be the only one we get.

60’ - How old would you say this man is? 50? 55? It’s Colorado’s Hendry Thomas, who is 28 years old. I guess he has the same thing that Greg Oden has.

72’ - Pajoy comes in for Pontius. What better way to say to your team, “We’re playing for 0-0”?

79’ - I know I saw Rochat come on but he’s been invisible since then.

81’ - United’s Ruiz-Pajoy-Townsend striker carousel is kind of hilarious. Olsen basically tries one out until he simply can’t take it anymore and puts the next one in. At any given time the guy on the field is simply the guy who has had the longest period of time elapse since he stunk it up last.

86’ - United is escaping, barely. Willis is outstanding. They can’t look good but they’re at least making Colorado look bad.

Full time: 0-0. A point! Well, that’s … that’s a thing. It’s a positive, or, well … it’s a non-negative, which is positive.

Player ratings:

Willis: 9. At some point, Bill Hamid will go overseas. When he does, I see no problem with just handing the keys to Joe Willis.

Kemp: 3. Taylor Kemp hasn’t convinced me yet. United’s recent draft picks have been good; if one flops, it will at least make the foreign scouting look slightly less inept by comparison.

Woolard: 7.5. It’s a tough job being a central defender; when you have a great game — and Woolard was everywhere tonight — people complain about how ugly and boring the game was.

White: 6.5. Normally, the emergence of White would be a positive development; he’s young, he’s inexpensive and he reduces the need for high-priced defenders. But I get the sense that United fans barely care because whatever money he frees up will either be pocketed or spent on a useless attacking option.

Riley: 5.5. Not that any of us thought this, but we now know for sure that Chris Korb wasn’t the reason the offense stinks.

Porter: 3. After a fast start, he’s really hit a rough patch. If Canada wants him, they can have him; send us back the player we had at the beginning of the year.

Kitchen: 4. He looked sluggish; I suspect heavy legs. He is now United’s minutes leader since we were de-Korb’d tonight.

Thorrington: 6.5. I’m glad we had someone to play just enough useful balls to our strikers to confirm that they are terrible.

Nyassi: 4. He’s energetic in defense. Going forward, he’s more useless than the “g” in “lasagne”.

Pontius: 6. Did what he could as a striker/winger/offensive mid/defensive mid/guy being rested for next match.

Ruiz: 4. Whose turn is it? Townsend? I think it’s Townsend’s turn to not score.

Rochat: 3.5. Congratulations on the new baby! 3.5.

Pajoy: 10. I just want to say something positive about the guy.

Townsend: 4.5. I think he’s the guy least likely to be placed on an ice floe when we sign a new striker.

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Steven Goff | July 9, 2013