Soccer Outsider: D.C. United-Philadelphia match diary, player ratings

October 15, 2013
socceroutsider

Is Syamsir Alam going to get his Rudy moment? He’s the only D.C. United field player who hasn’t played in a competitive match. Will United’s players put their jerseys on Ben’s desk (would United’s front office pay for an actual desk? Maybe put their jerseys on Coach Ben Olsen’s card table), and say, “I want Syamsir to start in my spot.” That probably won’t work … unless you’re Lionard Pajoy.

Alas: no Alam. It’s: Hamid | Iapichino, Woolard, Kitchen, Korb | Pontius, Neal, Jeffrey, DeLeon | Silva, Doyle for Saturday’s match against Philadelphia. Dwayne De Rosario is with the Canadian national team, which helps him comply with his restraining order against Danny Cruz. Also, United has finished its three-month prep for the U.S. Open Cup final, so Olsen is fielding a lineup with the noble goal of trying to avoid finishing with the fewest wins of all time.

Here’s kickoff from a drenched RFK stadium. The forecast is for “a metaphor for United’s mood.”

1’ - Philly’s crest is pretty cool; I like the snake. As I’ve pointed out before, when it comes to soccer crest animals, it goes (from least cool to most) canary, rooster, horse, eagle, lion, two-headed eagle, snake, bat, wolf relieving himself on two villagers. But that coiled snake has been partly co-opted by the Tea Party. Now I’m wondering if that snake has angry eyes because he’s mad about Obamacare.

3’ - I’m surprised Doyle got the start; his hair is not going to do well in this rain. I’ll bet he’ll be trying to borrow Woolard’s head gear by half time.

21’ - Woolard’s head gear falls off, but I like to think it was his toupe. If Aren Robben has a sense of humor, he will play his last season with a bad, thick, black toupe.

25’ - United is the better team right now (defining “right now” as this very instant, not in general). It’s  moving the ball well and creating some chances.

32’ - Pontius tries to execute what used to be “The Pontius” — cutting in and curling a shot with his right foot — but it’s blocked. Nowadays “The Pontius” is pulling your hamstring while putting on your socks.

35’ – GOAL UNITED! Nick DeLeon with a long-range blast into the top corner! Great goal, and United has a deserved lead! This isn’t its first lead of the year, but I think it might be the first time it truly deserved to be ahead and actually is.

37′ - Doyle off the post! This team is steamrolling toward no-worse-than-the-fourth-or-fifth-lowest-scoring-team-of-all-time status!

45’ - Korb cuts it back for Silva, who should have put his shot on frame. That should have been 2-0. Wow … 2-0! Could you imagine that? I forget what it’s like to be up 2-0.

Halftime: 1-0 United. For the first time this year, Olsen’s halftime talk is probably “keep it up” instead of “let’s try to minimize the embarrassment.”

46’ - Let’s be grateful that, unlike some other teams in the area, United is not engaged in a mascot controversy. Although if they keep playing like they’ve played this season, it won’t be long before D.C. residents start finding the “D.C.” part offensive.

50’ - DeLeon can’t quite find Pontius with a cross! With DeLeon and Pontius playing better, this team looks like a team that can score.

58’ - Conor Casey and Conor Doyle have sort of a Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis in Looper dynamic; Casey is just an older version of Doyle. And bald.

74’ - Kyle Porter — who was not good enough to get called up to the Canadian national team, and I’ll say that again so it sinks in: not good enough to get called up to the Canadian national yeam — forces a save from McMath! United’s inability to get the second goal is worrying.

78’ - Nyassi gets away with an obvious foul in a dangerous area. If United wins and Olsen says good things about the ref, does he get a credit to be applied toward a future fine?

82’ - Doyle round McMath but for some reason doesn’t shoot! I think he was waiting for Porter, but just shoot it! For a guy who didn’t attend college, Doyle sure learned how to procrastinate.

87’ - Pajoy takes the field, where he will score five fluke goals and earn a contract for next season.

90’ – Goal Philadelphia! It’s one of the iron laws of soccer: if you waste chances to build on a one goal lead, the other team will score. United get punished, and the universe is balanced.

Full time: Good teams win 1-0. United ties 1-1.

Player ratings:

Hamid: 8. Had two excellent saves, including one right after Doyle’s miss in the 82nd minute to smother an open shot. That type of save doesn’t usually get Save of the Week honors because they don’t look pretty, but it was still an outstanding play.

Iapichino: 5. Was doing really well until he let McInerney sneak behind him on the goal.

Woolard: 5. Solid in the tackle as always but his lack of size and speed continue to be issues.

Kitchen: 6. There is a case to be made for a Kitchen-White center-back tandem next year. I won’t be the one making that case (I like Kitchen in the midfield), but don’t rule it out.

Korb: 5.5. DeLeon was forward more often than Korb, which is exactly how things should be.

Pontius: 6.5. I’m rooting for Pontius like I would root for a friend in AA; I think Pontius is due for his “30 days without a hamstring pull” chip.

Neal: 5.5. His game was all collecting and distributing. Did a good job keeping the trains running on time.

Jeffrey: 6. He plays a good all-around game. I’m not convinced that he’s a “plus” player in this league, but he seems to be at least a league-average player.

DeLeon: 6.5. Apparently he was carrying a hip flexor injury. Maybe that hip flexor injury is the ingredient that’s been missing from his game this year, because he was great.

Silva: 5. I like that Silva tries aggressive passes, but not many of them connected tonight.

Doyle: 5.5. It’s a shame he arrived right as McDonald left; he might have been able to do something with all those long balls.

Porter: 6. Porter’s form tracks perfectly with the amount of competition for playing time on the wings.

Nyassi: 2. His entire contribution was to commit several fouls in bad spots.

Pajoy: 10. For not lighting it up and making management think twice about letting him go at the end of the season.

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