Let’s talk about Chris Pontius: Does he have John O’Brien’s disease? John O’Brien, of course, was the outstanding American midfielder who had a series of nagging injuries that derailed and eventually ended his career. The weird thing was that there was never any one catastrophic injury; no blown ankle, no concussion, no Joe Theismann-leg-bending-the-wrong-way-type thing. It was just a series of pulls, tweaks, toe stubs and ice cream headaches that ended things. Is Pontius in that zone? I don’t even know what his specific injury is any more; I think it’s a hamstring but he could have his head caught in a bannister for all I know. I just know he’s not playing and I hope that doesn’t last forever.
United’s lineup for Saturday’s match at New York: Hamid | Riley, Woolard, Jakovic, Korb | Neal, Jeffrey, Kitchen, DeLeon | Silva, De Rosario. Coach Ben Olsen has ended open auditions for the back line; he’s kept the same four for a couple games in a row. Even though Jakovic has been shaky lately, I think that’s the right move; pick your best guys and give them a chance to jell.
Almost kickoff at Red Bull Arena. The national anthem tonight was sung by Tim Cahill’s 10- year-old son. I would never criticize the sincere efforts of a child.
7’ – Goal New York! Ugh. Here’s the only good news: it should have been a penalty kick called on Jakovic anyway. The Lloyd Sam cross-that-floated-in-for-a-goal only happened because the universe will not let United have any good breaks this year.
12’ – Jeffrey is down and he might have to come off. This night has been nothing but sour notes so far.
14’ – Keeping with MLS’s tradition of employing the less-distinguished brothers of famous players, New York has Bradley Wright-Phillips in the midfield. I have advocated scouring the globe for a Billy Lampard or a Dave Ibrahimovic, but we ended up with Sainey Nyassi, the poor man’s Sanna Nyassi.
19’ – Does NYRB offer a short-sleeved goalkeeper jersey, or has Luis Robles gone Mac-from-It’s-Always-Sunny-in-Philadelphia on his jersey sleeves?
26’ – Great move between Silva and Thorrington leads to a shot dragged wide by Lewis Neal. Careful, Lewis: You’re one of the only players on the roster not covered with loser stink from this season. A few more plays like that and that will no longer be the case.
29’ – De Ro with a 60-yard shot to try to catch Robles off his line. Or maybe he was just trying to make sure United registers a shot on goal.
35’ – Nick DeLeon is alive! GOAL D.C. UNITED! DeLeon has been nonexistant so far, but that was a well-taken goal. You know how Jason Bourne is always discovering skills he forgot that he had? Hopefully this was that kind of moment for DeLeon.
37’ – Goal New York! Cahill with a pitch-perfect header, and it’s 2-1. Congratulations, Daniel Woolard: you are the one millionth person to be out-jumped by Tim Cahill.
41’ – Thorrington sends a header just wide! At least at this point in the season United might score. Earlier in the year after giving up two goals I would be organizing my sock drawer.
Halftime: 2-1 New York. Our central defenders have been bad, and Maryland’s own Oguchi Onyewu is still looking for a job. How much does it cost to bribe our way to the top of the allocation order these days?
46’ – Let’s take a minute to appreciate that these days MLS matches look, sound and feel like real soccer. Ten years ago this match would have been played on a dirt bike track in front of the ghosts of 70,000 New York Cosmos fans.
51’ – De Ro’s hard shot is almost spilled by Robles, then Silva puts a header off the bar. Looks like United is angling for a frustrating loss instead of a disheartening loss.
58’ – Neal forces a save off of a searing half-volley! The bad news is that United now has a corner, and United hasn’t t scored off a corner since Miley Cyrus was a Mouseketeer.
59’ – Henry (oh yeah: New York has Thierry Henry) drives into the box and surprises everyone by shooting wide. Dejan Jakovic is an absolute road cone.
64’ – Henry wants a penalty but it’s not given in accordance with the “reputation preceding you” rule.
72’ – We have a breakthrough – red card and a penalty kick! New York’s Ibrahim Sekagya grabbed ahold of De Ro in the box, and you know what: good call. You can’t do that. Finally a break.
73’ – De Ro will take the spot kick. If he misses this I’m going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. He steps up and … sickening. I’m not going to follow through on that Brooklyn Bridge promise because my body might wash up in Red Hook and I don’t want some hipster making a found-art coffee table out of my corpse.
81’ – I just want a tie. A tie at least messes things up for New York. I’m in the mind-set of pre-money Manchester City: The only joy available to us comes through spiting our rivals.
87’ – De Ro with a wide-open header and he puts it into the stands! United is snake-bitten.
Full time: 2-1 New York. And New York wins the Atlantic Cup. Well guess what, New York: The Atlantic Cup is worthless. It won’t even get you through the tolls in Delaware.
Hamid: 4.5. He maybe could have done a bit better on each goal but then again maybe not.
Riley: 4. Had his hands full with Sam Lloyd or Lloyd Sam or whoever that was on the wing for New York.
Woolard: 4. On the one hand, Woolard was basically wearing Tim Cahill as a backpack on the second goal. On the other hand, that happens all the time and you just have to deal with it.
Jakovic: 3.5. Forget what I said about needing time to jell: Jakovic is a liability. The good news is he’s on national team duty next week, so United can try another mix without having to bench him.
Korb: 5. If “overlapping runs” was a stat, Korb might be the league leader.
Neal: 4. Not the best game from Neal. Was it bad enough for me to want to see Nyassi next week? No, not close.
Jeffrey’s ankle: 0. Get better soon, Jared. You might have a future on this team.
Kitchen: 5.5. There are two ways to get a 5.5: be steady but not outstanding, like Kitchen. Or…
Thorrington: 5.5. Be hot and cold like Thorrington. Thorrington/Kitchen would be a good midfield tandem if the wings were more productive.
DeLeon: 5. Very well-taken goal. Unfortunately, he was mostly invisible otherwise.
Silva: 7. At the end of the year, there will surely be stats that will prove that this offense was better post-Silva than pre-Silva. In the meantime, you can see it with your eyes.
De Rosario: 4. A missed PK, a blown header and generally his worst match of the season. Yes: De Rosario is in Canadian national team form.
Doyle: 4. I wanted to see him make more aggressive runs in the box, make himself more available for headers.
Martin: 5. Olsen could have brought on Porter, but he brought on Martin instead. Telling.