Soccer Outsider: United-Toronto match diary, player ratings

August 27, 2013

The worst thing that could happen right now for D.C. United is for Lionard Pajoy to score a hat trick. These games are all about prepping for next year, and anything that delays Pajoy’s return flight to Bogota is a bad thing. But I don’t mean to pick on Pajoy (actually I do, that’s kind of my bread and butter); some players on this roster simply aren’t part of United’s future. The team’s bad players should have the decency to be bad; I hope they don’t do the abusive relationship thing where they say, “Baby, I’ve changed. I’m good now,” and then go right back to being terrible.

No one in the lineup for Saturday’s match against Toronto FC is sure to be sending resumes to USL II teams in a month, so this is worth watching. Hamid | Riley, Woolard, Jakovic, Korb | Doyle, Kitchen, Jeffrey, DeLeon | Silva, De Rosario. Doyle is playing left mid, which is a classic “play your best 11” move. Although Joe Willis has been one of United’s best 11 this year; maybe he should be in the midfield.

Here’s kickoff for United’s latest scouting exercise…

1’ - Lots of overlap between United and Toronto: Ryan Nelsen (coach), Kevin Payne (general manager), Dwayne De Rosario (prodigal son), Luis Silva (one that got away), Bobby Convey (Collin Martin of 2000). They also overlap in that they are terrible. Maybe they should consider swapping people with actual good teams.

3’ - I was thinking my intro should take note of the fact that this match takes place 50 years since Martin Luther King’s March on Washington happened down the street. Then I thought maybe I should not associate that monumental event with a meaningless regular season match between two bottom-feeding MLS teams. Let’s find another way — any other way — to commemorate that event.

7’ - Another thing United and Toronto have in common: Diego Forlan does not play for either team. Except that United hasn’t been trying to sign him. Does that make the joke on us or on them?

10’ – Goal De Rosario! An amazing curling shot from 30 yards, completely from nothing. That’s probably the Goal of the Week, by which I mean: That’s probably the goal that United is going to score this week.

14’ - Convey looks at least as young as when United had him. Does he have Benjamin Button Disease?

15’ - Google tells me that Benjamin Button Disease is actually called Flanchraych Syndrome, after the scientist who discovered it. Sorry for any confusion.

19’ - What a shame it would be if Doyle had concussion problems; he’d have to sheathe that luxurious wave of hair under a Petr Cech hat.

25’ - Despite of possessing none of the traits you usually associate with wingers — pace, dribbling ability, a Napoleon complex — Doyle is doing well enough on the left. Doyle has some skill — he’s not just a big lumbering slab of meat.

31’ - Neither Silva nor Doyle can finish a cross from DeRo — a near miss. At least these days United looks like it might possibly score. Early in the year goals seemed as likely as a homosexual president of Russia.

Halftime: 1-0 United. We look competitive as long as we’re playing other teams that are non-competitive in MLS.

49’ - Bill Hamid cusses himself out after a sub-standard goal kick. High achievers like Hamid are their own worst critics, and low achievers have bloggers to be their worst critics.

59’ – Goal Toronto! 1-1! Convey with the finish, which many of us remember as not really being his thing. Assisted by Dejan Jakovic.

64’ - An amazing volley by Silva is saved! That was top-drawer skill — TFC fans have to hate they let Silva go. Toronto traded him for cash — I hope they bought something pretty great.

65’ - I’m told TFC used the money from the Silva trade to buy this sweet customized pool table. So I stand corrected: great trade for them.

75’ - United is creating chances but can’t make one count. Though that Silva volley should have counted for at least half a point.

81’ - Earnshaw sends it wide and United escapes! Bill Hamid did a great job making himself big, or more accurately: Hamid’s parents did a great job of making him big.

90’ - I’m not happy that my “goal of the week” joke seems to be coming true.

Full time: 1-1. From the Department of Enormous Caveats: This was a good match for a bottom-of-the-table draw.

Player ratings:

Hamid: 8.5. Outstanding job controlling the box. Definitely had the daddy pants on today.

Riley: 6. Plays just enough crosses with his left foot to keep defenses honest.

Woolard: 5. I hate having to try to find a different way to say “solid but not spectacular” about Woolard every week. Sociologists call this the “Clyde Simms Paradox.”

Jakovic: 3. Jakovic’s fans in the comments section have been more defensive than Jakovic himself has in the past few weeks. I agree that he’s been arguably United’s best defender over the last few years, but he’s been bad recently.

Korb: 6.5. His runs forward were capped by some skillful touches tonight, which is a nice new ingredient.

Doyle: 6. He’s not exactly Jesus Navas on the wing, but he was at least asking himself, “What would Jesus do?”

Kitchen: 6. Simms Paradox.

Jeffrey: 4. I like that United’s Decent Backup Midfielder is 23. It’s discouraging when those guys are 34.

DeLeon: 4. His hair looks about ready to bloom. No word yet on when DeLeon will bloom this year.

De Rosario: 7.5. He’s been traded so much that he has something to prove against about half of the teams in the league.

Silva: 7. People said Toronto traded Silva to make room for Forlan. Forlan hasn’t arrived. At least the guy who invested $100,000 in Beanie Babies has someone to laugh at.

Porter: 5. Had his job taken by a forward. He probably feels like I did the time I lost a comedy gig to a magician.

 

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Steven Goff | August 27, 2013