The Washington Post

Soccer Outsider: United-Union match diary, player ratings

For the time being, we D.C. United fans are all waiting for the messiah to arrive. Dave Kasper is hinting at a summer signing, which we badly need; we need someone capable of parting defenses and leading out out of this goals desert. We need a leader to take us to the promised land. Because this team’s play so far this year has been, well…oy vey.

Here’s the lineup for Sunday’s match with the Philadelphia Union: Hamid | Woolard, Jakovic, McDonald, Korb | Pontius, Kitchen, Saragosa, Porter | De Rosario, Pajoy. This lineup helps confirm that I’m not crazy; I thought Sanchez and Rafael were both bad, and they’ve both been replaced. Although the continued presence of Pajoy suggests that someone is crazy, either me or Coach Ben Olsen. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, so … I’m thinking Olsen is the crazy one.

Here’s kickoff from a three-quarters empty (I’m sorry: one-quarter full…optimism!) RFK Stadium.

1’ – I’ve been criticizing Olsen for playing Pajoy, but the reality is that he doesn’t have many options. Rafael and Ruiz have both looked bad. De Rosario is playing when available. It was more perplexing last season when Santos and Salihi were available. This season, as much as I’ve criticized Pajoy, I’m not sure who on the roster I’d want to see play instead.

6’ – Goal Philadelphia! Oy vey…oy vey indeed. Jak and Mac combine to give Jack Mack a clear look at goal. Confused? So were they. Long story short: we’re bad, Jack McInerney is good, and it’s 1-0.

8’ – Philadelphia has former all-star Sebastien the Toux on the bench. If he were in a United shirt, I’d be willing to name him Striker For Life.

11’ – Goal Philly! It’s hired goon Conor Casey (I prefer the hands-on touch you only get from hired goons)! This is the worst start since … well, I can’t link to such things on a family Web site, but if one were to Google “North Dakota news anchor bad start,” one might find a start worse than United’s (but only barely).

15’ – If United doesn’t recover in a hurry, my second-half “updates” will be mostly notes on the doings of Tyrion Lannister and the White Walkers.

17’ – Goal United! We have a match! McDonaldino plays a through ball to De Ro, who cuts it back for Kitchen, who scores his first non-trash goal for United! That was some actual quality soccer. More of that, please.

24’ – Adrian Healey about Pajoy: “Ben likes his strikers to be hard working.” Taylor Twellman: “I like my strikers to score goals.” I’ll say it again: Taylor Twellman is the quality American color commentator we’ve been waiting for.

26’ – Goal Philly! 3-1! Sheanon Williams (henceforth: Sean Williams…stop wasting my time) with a powerful long throw that ends up with McInerney, who nails the finish. I haven’t seen McInerney play much, be he has the calmness of a born goal-scorer. Moreno-esque.

30’ – Cruz wastes a fast break; he had McInerney open but didn’t use him. Jakovic with a nice tackle that is his first positive contribution to this match.

37’ – Kyle Porter is being referred to as “a full Canadian international,” as if that’s supposed to be impressive. Canada’s national team is as embarrassing as the U.S. health care system.

44’ – McDonald has had two shots in the last five minutes, on top of a couple of shots last match. He has an assist today. When did our offense start running through Brandon McDonald?

45’ – Pontius gets the ball facing forward for the first time tonight, and as he crosses the midfield stripe the half ends. That’s about right.

Halftime: 3-1 Philadelphia. Let me focus on the positive (I’ll try it once and see how it feels): the offense has been inept for weeks, but tonight they are ept. The difference between having De Ro and not having De Ro is the difference between a grizzly bear and a teddy bear.

46’ – Augusto comes in for Saragosa. I thought Pajoy might get subbed, because it’s beyond obvious that he is never going to sco-

47’ – Pajoy scores! Woolard crosses to an unmarked Pajoy, who heads it home! It’s 3-2! Will that shut me up? Nope – Pajoy was wide open and definitely should have scored. Still, better to finish that one than to miss it.

48’ – How could Philly make it that easy for Pajoy score with his head? Scoring with his head is the only thing he can do! If you’re dealing with Pajoy, just don’t let him score with his head. It’s like if you’re dealing with Aquaman, just don’t commit a crime that is witnessed by fish.

49’ – Cruz busts Porter in the face, and Porter is bloody. That didn’t look intentional, but it did look like the kind of thing that probably got De Ro to head-butt Cruz.

63’ – Franz McBeckenDonald has two more shots in the last two minutes. Did a make a wish kid ask him to score?

67’ – Ratings are going to be tough today. McDonald and Woolard have been awful but also had nice assists. Pajoy has been awful but scored. This isn’t “The Wire”; I don’t want ambiguity in my heroes and villains.

70’ – Carlos Ruiz enters; he has appeared as a sub 24 times and never scored. So is he due, or just due to be terrible?

71’ – Twellman says that for a striker, the best compliment is to have fans boo and hate you. If that’s true, then I complimented Twellman a lot when he was playing. Sometimes I’d compliment him with both hands.

82’ – Casey Townsend was about to make his United debut but Augusto cramps up and the sub is changed. I know how you feel, Casey: I’ve been bumped from shows at the last minute before. The only thing to do is keep your mouth shut, try to see it from the other person’s point of view and then carry a vendetta that you will act on decades from now. Revenge will be sweet.

88’ – Hamid makes a great one-on-one save to keep United in the match! Will it matter?

No. No, it won’t. Full time: 3-2 Philadelphia. After the goal, United’s ability to make things happen was about the same as the U.S. Senate, so we’re stuck with our third straight home loss.

Player ratings:

Hamid: 5.5. Hamid’s role model Tim Howard also had a low shot go off his hand and into the net this weekend. Bill: you don’t have to do everything Tim does.

Woolard: 3.5. Nice assist, but he had a bit of a nightmare otherwise.

Jakovic: 3. I’m not sure which was more lethargic, his movement or his passing.

McDonald: 4. I’m not sure what the sudden burst of offense is about; he might be trying to outscore United’s strikers to make some kind of a point.

Korb: 5. He’d be helped by a more effective winger playing in front of him.

Pontius: 5.5. He was all over the field looking for the ball. I’m not sure if that was due to frustration or due to instructions from Ben.

Kitchen: 5.5. Well-taken goal. He wasn’t making himself available enough to the back line in the first half; he dropped deeper in the second.

Saragosa: 4. Another player who didn’t make himself available enough to the back line. They should just subtract time spent idly passing the ball among our back four from the “possession” stat.

Porter: 4.5. He had some good moments but his crossing was awful. I’d still rather see him than Sanchez next week.

De Rosario: 7. De Ro can’t make United competitive on his own, but he can make them watchable.

Pajoy: 4. Great: The goal will earn him another start next week, and we still didn’t get any points.

Augusto: 4. He doesn’t provide a lot of offense for a guy who doesn’t provide any defense.

Ruiz: 3.5. The flop in the box in the 95th minute was the only time he looked like his old self.

Russell: No rating.




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Steven Goff · April 23, 2013