The Open Cup victory over Chicago and last week’s win against Montreal prove one thing: D.C. United isn’t as bad as it seemed this year. Oh, it’s bad; it’s bad like a college improv show. But much like results kind of broke United’s way last year, they’ve kind of broken against the team this year. This team is very bad, but not overwhelmingly, insufferably, mind-bogglingly bad like … well, I probably shouldn’t have used “college improv show” earlier because that’s the worst thing I can think of.
Well this is interesting: Coach Ben Olsen is fielding the youngest lineup in D.C. United history. Average age: 22.6. Average wetness behind ears: soaked. Average aptitude typing with thumbs: extremely high. Average knowledge of “Friends”: low. In the 77th minute of last week’s match, I played with the idea of using an extremely young lineup; I guess Olsen decided that because the season is over anyway he’d just do it (though injuries played a role). The kids are: Hamid | Riley, Shanosky, White, Korb | Kemp, Kitchen, Jeffrey, Porter | Martin, Doyle.
Here’s kickoff from PPL Park, which is cited as an example of what D.C. United’s stadium could be. Except United’s stadium would be better because it would at least be somewhat close to downtown. Chester is basically Woodbridge without the outlet mall (and Woodbridge is nothing without the outlet mall).
3’ – Already Jack McInerney forces Hamid into a save! With all of the young talent United has on the field, the best young player might be McInerney, who just turned 21.
6’ – With a young team, you’re going to have a lot of questionable haircuts. Nick DeLeon (not playing tonight) looks like the sixth member of Smash Mouth, and Michael Seaton (on the bench) has a blonde faux-hawk worthy of a “Top Chef” contestant. But my favorite at the moment is Conor Doyle, who has a wind-swept comb-over that makes him look like a villain on “Downton Abbey.” I could picture him courting Edith with only the most dastardly of intentions.
14’ – In spite of having the bearing and presence of the most disreputable rapscallion, Doyle is doing a good job of holding the ball.
18’ – Everything is going down United’s right side. We need to get Kemp and Old Man Riley involved.
23′ – I’ll summarize United’s injury list for you: it’s everyone over the age of 24. It’s as if the bus crashed during a team outing to a Dave Matthews concert.
28’ – United’s defensive players are chattering at each other as they coordinate to defend this free kick. Either that or Old Man Riley is explaining to his teammates what the Gulf War was.
31’ – Just another tidbit to make you feel old: If the baby on the cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was playing in this match, he’d be older than the average United player.
35’ – Goal Philly! White and Shanosky both ball-watching a little bit. That’ll happen — very short attention span among this generation.
38′ – Hamid makes a great reaction save off a corner! Philly is controlling this match, or maybe it just seems that it’s controlling because United is in its rebellious youthful phase.
40’ – At least as notable as this team’s age is the fact that 10 of the 11 are American, and the 11th is Canadian. Maybe we should relocate this squad to the U.S. academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Halftime: 1-0 Philly. The children’s crusade started off all right, but Philly was really dominating by the end of the half.
46’ – In a sub that had to happen, De Rosario is on for Porter. Porter was as bad as … did I already use “college improv show?”
49’ – Doyle shoots wide. That was the first time he was able to turn in this whole match; if Zac MacMath had three heads, Doyle wouldn’t have known.
50’ – MacMath needs to re-do the MacMath on the number of letters in his first and last names. Both are wrong.
57’ – DeRo gets through the defense, and Martin’s shot is headed off the line! As you’d expect, United are a lot more dangerous with DeRo in the mix. The D.C. Uni-kids have been decent. Now imagine adding DeRo, Pontius, DeLeon and Silva. Not too bad.
60’ – Danny Cruz has been good tonight for Philly. Here’s how badly the Cruz/Pajoy trade has gone for us: I don’t check up on Cruz to see how he’s doing. It doesn’t matter; I don’t need to know how he’s doing to know that we lost that trade.
72’ – Seaton, 17, is about to come on. Our team is so young, we should probably be playing another youth squad on the little goals at halftime of a regular United match.
75’ – Goal Philly! Hamid should have had that one. He was thrown off by Riley and also his eyesight was probably ruined by constantly staring at an iPhone screen. Kids.
76’ – Seaton makes his United debut, becoming the first player born after MLS’s first match to appear in a game. I am so old. Anyone want to go to the park and feed ducks with me this weekend?
90’ – Hamid makes a one-on-one save to keep United … well, not in the match, but near the match.
Full time: 2-0 Philly. You know what: not terrible. I can at least be hopeful about this team. Better than wondering which kick will be the last one of Carlos Ruiz’s career.
Hamid: 6. A couple of good saves and one notable lack of a mediocre save.
Riley: 9.5. 4.5 for his play but 5 bonus points for blending in well with a much younger crowd, which can be awkward.
Shanosky: 4. Spotty with the decision-making sometimes but he won a lot of battles in the air.
White: 4. Can we get this kid some Ritalin? He’s got all the tools but his focus lapses every now and then.
Korb: 5.5. Had United won, Korb would have had to buy the celebratory beer.
Kemp: 4. Normally, crossing is his strength but he played a few clunkers tonight. On the plus side, he seemed calm and composed.
Jeffrey: 5. Mediocre game … for Jeffrey the player, not Jeffrey the blogger. I felt that I was on fire.
Kitchen: 6. With basically not a single player on the field who profiles as “creative,” Kitchen summoned his inner Xavi a bit more than usual tonight. Of course, Kitchen’s inner Xavi still moves a lot like Steven Gerrard.
Porter: 2. If you’re going to have an awful match, it’s better to be a midfielder than a striker or defender. It’s just a little less obvious when your mistakes don’t happen near a goal.
Martin: 4. He has good vision and is an excellent passer. I’m sure Olsen would agree he was being played out of position.
Doyle: 6.5. Held the ball very well when he wasn’t colluding with Thomas to usurp Carson’s position.
De Rosario: 7. Showed the kids how it’s done. I assume NBC turned down the field mics when he came on so as not to be overwhelmed with the sound of his old-man joints creaking and popping.
Seaton: 5. Seaton was born in 1996. That’s insane. It was just 1996 like, a year or two ago.