So apparently we’re still doing this: D.C. United is playing Chivas USA. I’m not sure why. The teams are buried at the bottom of their respective conferences. I don’t think anyone would mind if the teams came out in street clothes before the match and said: “You know, we talked it over and decided to cut our losses. Let’s put ‘Breaking Bad’ up on the JumboTron and watch that instead.”
Because this match did run opposite “Breaking Bad” on Sunday, this match recap is brought to you by DVR.
Here’s the lineup for what is basically one of the early, early preseason matches for 2014: Hamid | Iapichino, Woolard, White, Korb | Martin, Kitchen, Neal, DeLeon | Silva, Doyle. Forget what I said about this match not being compelling: the Dennis Iapichino era starts now!
Here’s kickoff from the StubHub Center. Boy, Chivas’s attempt to woo Latin American fans through institutionalized discrimination is really paying off — there must be 100 people in that stadium!
4’ - The commentators must have said “it’s a beautiful night for soccer!” about 15 times already. That’s the main selling point for this match: the weather.
9’ - Here we go: the Chivas commentators are running through United’s rap sheet of depressing stats. I know: worst record on the planet, fewest goals in the universe, haven’t scored on the road since the Jurassic period. Direct Kick gives you the home team commentators for every match, so 50 percent of matches start with the opposing commentators being blown away by how bad United is.
15’ - DeLeon crosses for Doyle, but Kennedy makes the save! I should mention that United looks half-sentient. Though only half.
19’ - With an estimated 80 or 90 fans in attendance, this has the feel of a semi-important rec-league match. Most of the crowd is the next two teams scheduled to play.
23’ - Extremely good through-ball from Silva finds Doyle, but nothing comes of it. Seeing as this is preseason, maybe we should take Silva out. He’s earned his spot.
30’ - Bad news: Woolard is hurt and has to come off. He’ll pass off his 1920s aviator helmet to Conor Shanosky (actually, no he won’t).
39’ - Is there some kind of rule change wherein you get points for passing the ball horizontally across the back four? No? Then why is United doing that so much?
44’ - I’m starting to think that Carlos Ruiz signing might not work out.
Halftime: 0-0. This game is a great two-pronged argument for relegation. First, relegation would give this match meaning. Second, these teams deserve some kind of punishment.
49’ - Bill Hamid makes a great diving save! Finally something worth watching.
51’ – Goal Chivas! A solid two minutes of horrific defending from United finally leads to the inevitable result. In that sequence, the ball deflected off of every D.C. player at least twice, including subs and coaches.
58’ - Kitchen finds Martin but Martin can’t quite find Silva with the cross. United needs just a touch more quality in order to score.
65’ - Wait, who’s this entering the match … is that Chris Pontius? He can walk! It’s a miracle!
68’ - United is doing pretty well in the first 80 yards of the field. It’s the last 30 yards where it tuns into a USL-2 club.
70’ - The commentator says that Chivas USA spent 45 minutes practicing defending corners yesterday. That’s just bad coaching — United never scores off corners.
81’ - White comes off, Nyassi comes on. United Coach Ben Olsen is sacrificing defense for, um … running around a lot?
90’ + 2’ - The ball fell for Pontius but he couldn’t get it off his feet! And with that, the chance for a scintillating 1-1 draw is lost.
Full time: 1-0 Chivas. I really don’t want Olsen to get fired, but the losses are piling up so high that the case for keeping him is approaching existentialist territory. Like it would have to start with: “can humans ever really win or lose anything?”
Hamid: 6.5. When he made that great save in the 49th minute I somehow knew his effort would soon be wasted. With United this season, pessimism = clairvoyance.
Iapichino: 6. Nice try, Boy From Iapichino, but I know that every United player has a good first game before reverting to form.
Woolard: 5.5. His injury is a leg injury, not a head injury. So…good news?
White: 6. White is a little like Hamid: capable of making plays nobody else can make, and also capable of blowing a few plays he probably should make. He was steady tonight, though.
Korb: 4. I have a tough time rating Chris Korb; I’m always giving him points for getting into good spots and then taking away points for what he does when he gets there.
Martin: 3. His passes weren’t sharp enough. At this level it’s not enough to play it to a teammate; you have to play it to the correct foot.
Kitchen: 6. He’s reliable with the ball. I know the midfield diamond is out of favor these days, but he’s such a natural defensive midfielder that I’d prefer to see him paired with someone who will cheat forward a bit.
Neal: 6. He actually connected a few long passes. I didn’t know you could do that.
DeLeon: 7. Without a doubt his best game of the year. He’s regaining strength as his hair grows out, like that character from the Bible, what was his name? Ah yes: Fabio.
Silva: 6. Silva/Doyle is a pairing that makes sense, even if Doyle was a little off tonight.
Doyle: 4.5. United have been toothless on set pieces all year. Doyle is a big dude; hopefully he’ll be able to get on the end of a set piece or two.
Shanosky: 5.5. He looks like he could be an asset. With these young players it will all be about who continues to develop and who has already peaked. But Shanosky, Jeffrey, White, Martin, Doyle, Porter and even Kemp are all in the “possibly maybe” category. We’ve had young players before (remember David Stokes?) who could easily be tossed in the “definitely no” category right away.
Pontius: 6. Boy was it good to have him back. And he immediately looked like one of the better players on the field.
Nyassi: No rating.