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Soccer Outsider: United-Revolution match diary, player ratings

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The only interesting thing about D.C. United’s match against New England on Saturday night is to see whether certain players can play their way back into form. Specifically, I want to see if Chris Pontius, Nick DeLeon and Dejan Jakovic can regain their earlier form. I’ll also be keeping an eye on Bill Hamid, Luis Silva, Dwayne De Rosario and John Thorrington. Other players seeking to regain form are James Riley, Ethan White, Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal, Joe Willis, Conor Doyle, Andrew Dykstra, Dennis Iapichino, Jared Jeffrey, Taylor Kemp, Collin Martin, Sainey Nyassi, Lionard Pajoy, Kyle Porter, Carlos Ruiz, Marcelo Saragosa, Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky, Casey Townsend and Daniel Woolard. On the plus side, Syamsir Alam is in the form of his life.

Tonight’s lineup: Alam | Alam, Alam, Alam, Alam | Alam, Alam, Alam, Alam | Alam, Alam. I like this lineup. Risky move by Coach Ben Olsen to slide Alam to left back, but Alam should provide cover.

Here’s kickoff from Gillette Stadium. I forget, do the Patriots also play there?

1’ – In case the sarcasm in that last sentence wasn’t obvious: The field has football lines on it, giving this match a very MLS-in-1998 feel. Maybe the Revs could justify the lines by having “1998 night” whenever they play with lines on the field. There could be shootouts, a backwards-running clock and billowy, trash-bag-fastened-with-a-rubber-band-style jerseys. It would be sponsored by an Internet startup with a ridiculous pie-in-the-sky idea (“it’s an online marketplace for condiments and sauces!”), and Limp Bizkit could play at halftime. People would shout “show me the money!” whenever a goal is scored.

5’ – Yellow for Jakovic, but I wish they could give it to Thorrington, because he played the hospital ball that forced Jakovic into the foul.

10’ – Show me the money – goal United! Actually, own-goal by Scott Caldwell, but beggars can’t be choosers. There’s only one way to describe this own-goal: it’s the Andres Escobar goal, thankfully without the gruesome aftermath.

11’ – United has a lead on the road. I expect it will react to this strange scenario the way the bushmen reacted to the Coke bottle in “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”

14’ – Jakovic pulls down Imbango, but there’s no call. Watching the replay … um, that could have been a yellow, which would have been red. United dodged a bullet there.

19’ – This field is unwatchable. The yellow lines are the soccer lines, but you can barely see them. I keep thinking the ball is out of play when it rolls into the end zone.

20’ – The ref is pacing off 10 yards for a free kick. Dude, there are lines on the field. Also I’ll bet the chains are laying over there somewhere. The ref should take out that foam and draw a soccer field on this field.

25’ – Nguyen shoots just nguyide (wide)!

26’ – Lee Nguyen’s look is best described as “shady dude.” I get the sense that he has a van full of something illegal.

28’ – Goncalves throws and arm in Silva’s face, but there’s no call. This game might as well be played in Tora Bora – there are now laws whatsoever.

31’ – Kitchen wins one-on-ones like Aaron Burr.

35’ – Scott Caldwell is pretty much United’s entire offense. They have created nothing.

39’ – Lee Nguyen’s band is playing at a place called “The Crevice” this weekend. $2 PBRs.

Halftime: 1-0 United. The turf is making this game unwatchable. Of course the fact that United is on that turf doesn’t help. But really, the physics of turf completely change the game; you might as well play on the third moon of Jupiter.

48’ – Why can’t United hold the ball? Right now United has many of the same guys on the field that it had last year, but suddenly nobody can connect a pass.

50’ – The weird thing is the more he drinks, the better Lee Nguyen is at the drums. Don’t ask me why.

52’ – Do you like throw-ins and goal kicks? You’ll love turf.

54’ – Penalty kick for New England! Horrible call. Horrible, horrible, atrocious call. Even the Revs announcers are agreeing with me.

56’ – Save Hamid! He smothered it like Sylvester Stallone in “Victory”! Great save — justice is served.

57’ – But always remember: NOTHING GOOD CAN EVER HAPPEN TO UNITED IN 2013. GOAL NEW ENGLAND! Diego Fagundez appeared to be offside (watching the replay … yep, offside), but the flag stays down! If Olsen still has the capacity to feel, then his brain just exploded.

63’ – Horrible refereeing tonight. Which is a convenient scapegoat because the story line should be that United can’t connect more than two passes in a row and is generally terrible.

67’ – Nguyen off the nguyoodwork! 1-1 is a generous scoreline.

77’ – Hamid dives to his left to make a save! Hamid, Jakovic, White and to a lesser extent Korb are holding up well under a lot of pressure.

81’ – Penalty kick New England! This one is a no-brainer; not even Olsen is arguing this one. Let me say that again: not even Olsen is arguing.

82’ – Interesting: Lee Nguyen will take the PK. There are only two ways this can go: redemption or Byung-Hyun Kim. Nguyen steps up and … redemption. 2-1 New England.

88’ – United is down a goal and pinned back as if the scoreline was reversed. United has barely created any chances. What is happening? How is United this bad? And how furious will Don Garber be if United wins the Open Cup and end up representing the MLS in the CONCACAF Champions League next year?

Full time: 2-1 New England. Unfortunately, this loss mathematically eliminates United from the 2014 playoffs.

Player ratings:

Hamid: 8. A PK save (and a nice one), a few other good moments, but it all gets thrown into the giant black hole of awful that is United’s offense.

Riley: 3.5. Really seemed to struggle with the turf; his passing was way off.

Jakovic: 5. Tricky score: I’m not docking him anything for the PK-that-shouldn’t-have-been, but I’m docking him 1.5 points for that takedown in the 14th minute that could have seen him sent off. But on the whole he looked like an MLS player again (supposed to be a compliment) after a very rough couple of weeks.

White: 6.5. White is like Hamid: When he’s mistake-free, he’s good.

Korb: 5.5. On the down side, he didn’t have many of his trademark Chris Korb runs, but on the up side he didn’t have many of his trademark Chris Korb crosses. Solid on defense.

Pontius: 6. Looked dangerous at times, but mostly looked like a guy who didn’t have the ball.

Kitchen: 6.5. How is United’s possession getting worse as Kitchen’s distribution gets better?

Thorrington: 4. Lots of heavy touches, which can be costly on the ice rink the Revs call a field.

DeLeon: 3.5. Same as Thorrington. United should have prepped for this match by scrimmaging on a basketball court or the side of a mountain. One bad touch and the ball is 20 feet in front of you.

Silva: 4. With three goals he is pretty much assured of being United’s golden boot winner. I hope he’s not getting complacent.

De Rosario: 4. I hate to say this, but he’s looking not-very-essential as the season winds down.

Doyle: 4. I think he might get some starts down the stretch. De Ro and Silva aren’t playing well enough to justify the little-little combo.

Neal: 8.5. I was going to give him a 3.5, but then I realized that by committing a clear, indisputable foul for a PK, he was saving Olsen a couple thousand dollars in fines. So way to cover for your coach, Lewis.

Porter: 3.5. When Doyle’s shot in the 81st minute was saved, Porter had a chance to find DeLeon. He sent his cross right to the keeper. 20 seconds later, New England had a PK. 2013 in a nutshell.

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