This wasn't exactly the sexy possession-oriented high-style type win we would've liked to see, but D.C. United 's 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire tonight but the team one step away from winning the Carolina Challenge Cup for the second consecutive year. And its a very manageable step. United needs to either beat or tie Toronto FC on Saturday, or if the team loses, they just need to hope that the Fire can beat or tie the Charleston Battery.
In the long run, winning this game doesn't matter a whole lot. But its promising that United did it without starting a single field player (Pat Onstad is the exception) who is tracking to be in our starting lineup on March 19. Meanwhile, on the other side of the field, Chicago started its entire first time except with Jon Conway in net instead of Sean Johnson . Yeah, our reserves beat their starters. So what if it was only 10 of their starters vs. 11 of our reserves for most of the match.
What does this all mean? Not much. I guess it means that D.C. is more prepared for First Kick at this point than Chicago. But it also has some meaning for the players. Read on to find out.
I've always made it a point to refrain from doing formal player ratings for preseason games and reserve matches, but here's my impression of several players:
Players who impressed me:
Chest Rockwell called him the Man of the Match in our thriving GameThread earlier, and Kurt Morsink deserves that honor thanks to his aggressive ball-winning, well-placed passes, and leadership on defense. He was often seen pointing out directions to his young and inexperienced back line. Similarly but in a less active role, Stephen King was productive as Morsink's partner in central midfield. These two demonstrated good chemistry that will help them light up the Reserve division!
Our central back pairing of Rodrigo Brasesco and Ethan White also looked good. Brasesco stood out for his speed, decision-making, and tackling ability, while White did well on a few occassions at quickly converting a successful defense into an attack.
Players who didn't really impress me:
I hate to say it, but Charlie Davies really didn't have a good game. Aside from the obviously unnecessary yellow card, Davies didn't appear to give his full effort for the full 90 minutes. Sometimes he was sprinting at opponents to minimize their time on the ball and force turnovers, and other times he was being more reactionary. He wasn't much of a factor at all in the second half, but the fact that he was on the field for 90 minutes though was still impressive. Marc Burch also gave up more chances than I would have liked to see, although his crossing ability is still very high.
Players I'm not quite sure about
Even though they combined on what would be the only goal of the match, Brettschneider and Quaranta each have their flaws. Quaranta disappeared for long stretches of the match, and I'm still not clear on how Brettschneider will be used in the regular season. He clearly has finishing skills when he gets chances, but I don't think he'll be creating many chances for himself against MLS opponents. With that said though, I'm glad he's on the roster and hope he develops into someone who can contribute regularly in the regular season and not just in the preseason.
Brandon Barklage played admirably in his first professional game at the rigth back position, further proving his value in versatility to the team. I guess the only thing I'm not quite sure about with Barklage is why he doesn't have a contract yet?!