In a match that started out with plenty of sloppy play on a soggy field, D.C. United help onto their early lead with some good possession play and a fairly complete performance. This match was never really in doubt. Partially due to United's defensive precision, and partially due to the lack of flare from the Philadelphia Union in their first ever visit to RFK Stadium.
This match also had a certain "changing of the guard" feeling as a result of Santino Quaranta wearing the captain's armband for United for the first time ever. I've long thought Quaranta to be the emerging leader of the younger generation of United players. He's very often the most vocal to the media, and his well-documented fisticuffs with goalkeeper coach Mark Simpson seems to indicate that he's probably the most vocal in practice too. Quaranta hasn't been having his best season by any means, but his effort has never been questioned. Quaranta as the captain of a team led by Ben Olsen should not be a surprise.
The two goals scored by Danny Allsopp were not his only contributions today. He worked hard off the ball throughout the game. He tracked back when necessary, and did well in defending corner kicks too. But his finishing skills were definitely on display. His first goal came off a failed clearance by Danny Califf, but Allsopp managed to strike the ball right into the side netting when many other players (some of them on our team) probably would have put the ball wide or over the top. The second goal was no trouble for him either. Oh yeah, and it's nice to see a forward instead of a midfielder as our top goal scorer again.
It looks as if Marc Burch has decided to make a challenge to Julius James and 2009 winner Dejan Jakovic for this year's Popie Award. Burch has been surprisingly steady since returning from injury, and put in another good performance today. Can anyone think of any goal scoring opportunities for Philadelphia that came from Burch's side of the field? I can't. The two central defenders also did well today, along with young goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who only had to make a few saves to preserve the clean sheet. The defense did a really good job of shutting down the Union's two most talented attackers Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux. You were more likely to hear names like Jordan Harvey and Michael Orozco in the attack.
Andy Najar contributed on both goals, but also didn't have his best game. Najar was frequently played through deep on the right side. He had three crosses from a deep right position early in the match, but every one went straight to a Union player. Fortunately for United, one of those Union players managed to flub the clearance for our first goal. Najar will actually be credited for an assist on the second goal, but it was the dummy by Pablo Hernandez that was more impressive. Other than that though, Hernandez didn't have as large an effect on this match as he's had previously.
In his first appearance with D.C., Jed Zayner didn't quite seem to be up to the task. He had a lot of trouble keeping up with Justin Mapp, and as I alluded to earlier, every one of Philadelphia's scoring chances came from his side of the field. But with that said, I have no problem with Olsen giving Zayner a start ahead of Devon McTavish, who had a poor game last week. Mixing things up is encouraged when your team is 3-13-3. But whatever happened to Jordan Graye anyway? Too busy playing FIFA?
It was nice to see D.C. United doing well. Fans of the team have seen this potential for a long time, but it hasn't been showing up on the scoreboard very often. After beating the team directly ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings, United will now have the opportunity to beat the last place team in the Western Conference Chivas USA when they take to the road next weekend.
I'll leave you with one last question. Why is Kris Kelderman still a member of the United organization? It's clear that Ben Olsen and Chad Ashton have a much greater presence on the sideline. I'm starting to think that these two will be among the few holdovers into next season.