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

socceroutsiderLast game. Some “lasts” are bittersweet, like the last day of summer camp. This last is just sweet, like the last day of fat camp. Seeing Carlos Ruiz sent packing will be my metaphorical bowl of ice cream with Teddy Grahams and whipped cream. Actually, I might make that a literal bowl of ice cream; I’ll spell out “So long Carlos!” in Reddi Wip.

Last goofy lineup: Hamid | Iapichino, Woolard, Riley, Korb | Pontius, Jeffrey, Porter, Silva | De Rosario, Doyle. Ladies and gentlemen: the all-fullback back line. We’ve seen the no-genuine-strikers lineup (De Rosario and Silva up top) and the nobody-except-James-Riley-can-rent-a-car lineup, so it’s good to see Coach Ben Olsen staying creative in the face of injuries and suspensions.

Last kickoff from RFK … for this year! A lot will change this offseason, but RFK will still be with us unless it collapses into a pile of dust. So, 70 percent chance.

1’ - Last chance for Syamsir Alam to get minutes, and it will come and go; he’s not on the bench. On the bench: Two backup goalkeepers. Great signing.

3’ - Last reminder that Dwayne De Rosario can’t be great forever: a sliced shot that almost goes out for a throw-in.

6’ - Last recitation of United’s horrible stats (fewest wins in league history, worst road performance since Napoleon in Russia, etc.) by the announcers. I’d prefer it if they’d just ask “how bad does United stink?” and then roll this clip.

11’ - Last early goal conceded: a penalty kick converted by Garcia, and it’s 1-0 Houston. Also: Riley should be off for that foul. The ref may have kept his card in his pocket out of sheer pity.

15’ - Last encounter with a player United never should have traded: Bobby Boswell.

20’ - Last chance for Chris Korb to score his first fantasy points of the year: shot saved by Towlie Hall. Korb takes the 0-fer.

27’ - Last reminder that having Chris Pontius all year would have helped: Goal United! Pontius gets free and floats a back-post cross that Porter heads home! Kyle Porter is tied for United’s golden boot with an incredible three goals! How does he do it?

30’ - Last cross to end up in the VW Pavillion: Porter. Porter and Korb don’t make much; let’s hope VW isn’t charging them for the broken windshields and door dings caused by their crossing.

35’ - Last inexplicable miss: De Rosario has the whole goal in front of him but can’t control a pass from Doyle. De Ro was also offside for no apparent reason (though the flag stayed down), so much so that I think he may have been trying to get Doyle to take that himself.

38’ - Last great save by Hamid that is immediately wasted. 2-1 Houston. Hamid makes an outstanding double stop but Houston scores on the ensuing corner. I would also call this the last goal conceded off a dead ball, but there’s still time for one or two more.

Last halftime: 2-1 Houston. Olsen delivers what is probably not his last halftime speech as United head coach. My best guess at the speech: “Who do you think we should draft with the first pick?”

47’ - Last call that will take five years off of Ben’s life: Pontius is fouled in the box but there’s no call.

60’ - Last period where United needs a goal but can’t create anything resembling a real chance: about now.

64’ - Last Nick DeLeon hair joke: it looks like Dr. J got it on with a cauliflower.

74’ - Last moment in which I wonder what I’ve done to be cursed with watching this horrible team: right now. Followed by the last moment in which I remember: oh yeah, lots of bad stuff.

79’ - Last appearance of Sainey Nyassi in DC, unless he gets a job at the Gambian embassy: now.

90’ + 3’ - Last chance to end the season on a high note, to shake the ignominity of being the worst team in league history, to show that the fight and hustle that this horrible team has shown for much of the season will pay off: a few minutes ago.

Full time: 2-1 Houston.

Player ratings:

Hamid: 8. Hamid is probably the most motivated player on the team; he can escape this mess by playing his way to a European contract.

Iapichino: 5.5. Mike Chabala’s lasting impact with United was that he always made me want ciabatta bread. I thought Iapichino’s impact would be that he always makes me want a tiny cup of burnt coffee, but he might stick around next year.

Woolard: 4.5. Even if you think Woolard is a below-average player, you probably also think he deserves a roster spot next year. You can be a below-average player and still be one of United’s better players.

Riley: 3.5. He’s not a center back, not that he ever claimed to be.

Korb: 6. Korb is a perfect fullback off the bench; he’s versatile, inexpensive and reliable. But this year he’s among the team leaders in minutes. That’s not what you want.

Pontius: 6.5. He should have the January USMNT camp to continue regaining his form.

Jeffrey: 4. I’ll go ahead and say it: I’m not convinced by Jared Jeffrey. He’s solid and his finishing is good, but I see him as a role player, not a building block.

Porter: 5.5. Porter is young, quick, and not Sainey Nyassi, so he’ll probably stick around.

Silva: 3.5. After his first few games with United, I remember wondering, “Why did Toronto let him go?” Now I think I know: work rate.

De Rosario: 3. Even with his diet of seaweed and teak bark, De Rosario was going to age eventually. I think he’s finally slowing down.

Doyle: 4. Doyle will stick simply because virtually every other striker on the roster is about to be fired.

DeLeon: 5.5. I wonder if he’ll also get a chance to play his way into form in the January USMNT camp. Maybe we can bribe Klinsi to turn camp into sort of a United rehab clinic.

Nyassi: 4. I’ll give him this: He always worked hard. Not a lazy player. I’ll say the same thing about Pajoy: put in a good shift, worked hard and tracked back. And about Ruiz: great hair for a man his age.

 

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