The geezers are back for Saturday’s match in Montreal – no more Pre-teen United. The lineup is: Hamid | Riley, Woolard, Jakovic, Korb | Porter, Kitchen, Thorrington, DeLeon | Silva, De Rosario. James Riley has some people his age to relate to this week; he can toss out “Seinfeld” quotes without being met with blank stares.
Here’s kickoff from Stade Saputo, which — if my college French isn’t failing me — means “goat who is coy about his dinner plans.”
3’ - Terrible giveaway by Woolard, but a great save from Hamid! Thanks Bill; I was afraid this might be one of those “tempted to shut the TV off after 15 minutes” games.
5’ - Yes: United is the worst team in MLS. This is watch-through-your-fingers stuff. They’re doing everything wrong.
16’ - At least United sounds the same as it did during their glory days. I can hear Coach Ben Olsen’s “hey … hey!” on the sidelines. I’ve been hearing that “hey!” for more than a decade; I know it like a mother knows her baby’s cry.
20’ - United has found a creative way to make me feel good about the first 20 minutes: It’s been so awful that it deserves to be down a goal or two, and the fact that it’s not tricks me into feeling that the game has gone really well so far.
27’ - Get out a pencil and paper: If United has 50 possessions a game, and 15 percent of its passes are giveaways, and a goal requires 20 consecutive passes with a standard deviation of four, then how much more fun is solving this math problem than watching the game?
31’ - United is showing signs of semi-competence after playing the first 20 minutes making more mistakes than the 1919 Chicago White Sox.
33’ - Turnover by Montreal leads to a shot wide from De Ro. United can’t build, so maybe Montreal will be nice and just give them the ball.
40’ - Kitchen plays a great long ball to Porter, who does well to force a save from Perkins. After a prolonged slump, United is seeing signs of life from Porter tonight. Maybe he tapped into some rejuvenating Canadian life force. Poutine? Labatt Blue?
41’ - The Comcast SportsNet crew lets us listen to Olsen’s sideline patter, and I can’t even form the thought “how long before he drops an f-bomb?” before he drops an f-bomb. Duh, Comcast. He’s been coaching D.C. United all year; he’s going to be swearing like a sailor.
43’ – Goal Montreal! Or: But pour Montreal! It’s Marco Di Vaio. I assume “Vaio” is that spacious green region he was inhabiting without any intrusions from United defenders.
Halftime: 1-0 Montreal, and it could have been worse. The Impact is out for revenge after United beat it a few weeks ago. It’s like United is a wimpy kid who landed a punch against a bully, and now he’s due for a pummeling.
52’ - Korb sends in a cross that is almost converted by Silva (and they’ll almost give United a point for that). Silva has been good on the ball but is drifting in and out of the game.
61’ - Less than a minute after making a great saving tackle, Woolard undoes the good by heading the ball right to Di Vaio in the box (luckily Di Vaio’s shot goes wide). Riley looks at Woolard and says, “That’s an awfully big matzah ball!” Jakovic snickers. Kitchen doesn’t get it.
75’ - We have an incident. Riley sends Justin Mapp into the boards, and while Mapp is on the ground receiving some complimentary Canadian health care, Olsen and Montreal Coach Marco Schallibaum mix it up. Shallibaum sheds his coat as well as stereotypes of Swiss neutrality as he pushes into Olsen’s technical area. But now somehow Olsen is being thrown out … what? I didn’t see Olsen do anything (oh, I heard him say a few things, but he’s not being thrown out for that, is he?). Well, Olsen is gone, goading the crowd as he leaves like a WWF villain.
76’ - Assistant coach Chad Ashton panics and tries to sub Andrew Dykstra on for Danny Allsopp.
80’ – GOAL UNITED! The sub Ashton actually did make — Conor Doyle — makes an immediate impact (lower-case “i”)! Great strike, well assisted by Silva. That might be the future of the team.
83’ - But the present of the team hates for anything good to happen – Goal Montreal! Di Vaio should remember to pick up a VAT form because he now owns Dejan Jakovic.
89’ - Here’s the D.C. United debut for new acquisition Dennis Iapichino. He should donate some of the vowels in his name to the Bosnian players who played the U.S. men midweek.
Full time: 2-1, Montreal. That match was like “Love, Actually”: It didn’t end up being quite as bad as I thought it would be at first, but was still pretty bad.
Hamid: 7.5. Unlike most spots on the field, Hamid and Willis are competing to see who can play better. Other players are waiting for the other guy to stink so bad that they’re given another shot.
Riley: 4.5. Came to life in the second half, but that wasn’t quite enough to make up for a shaky first half.
Woolard: 3.5, Jakovic: 3. I’m calling their defensive effort tonight the Montreal Comedy Festival.
Korb: 5.5. Korb plays basically the same game every night: great work rate, decent defense, slightly suspect passing. The only thing that varies is the quality of his crosses. They were okay tonight.
Porter: 5.5. I spent one summer with a broken arm and in summer school, and it was still better than Porter’s summer so far. Nice to see him have a decent game tonight.
Kitchen: 5.5. Was given the unenviable job of breaking up Montreal’s counterattack, with mixed results.
Thorrington: 6. I like the Paulie Walnuts flecks of gray around his temples; he might as well have a tattoo that says “veteran presence.”
DeLeon: 4.5. And a braided goatee says “youthful exuberance.”
Silva: 5.5. My only critique would be: “That stuff you’re doing? You need to do it more.”
De Rosario: 6. Porter and De Rosario played well, which suggests something revitalizing about Canadian air or soil or something, but Jakovic’s game torpedoes that theory.
Doyle: 7. Did very well in a short amount of time. Maybe put him and De Ro up top and drop Silva to the midfield.
Neal: 6. Welcome back, Lewis Neal! There’s a Greyhound ticket back to Gambia with Sainey Nyassi’s name on it.
Iapichicianoano: 0. Name is too hard to spell.