I'm having a little bit of trouble sorting out my feelings on this game.
As Americans, we've grown accustomed to complaining about diving from Italians, Mexicans, and the like. Carlos Ruiz and Cuahtemoc Blanco are our least favorite athletes. So how then do we justify supporting one of our own when he starts to do the same thing we've been complaining about throughout the entire history of our soccer fandom.
In the end, this is what I know for sure - I'd rather Charlie Davies be with us than against us. His story is so great that I'd hate hating him.
Did Davies dive. Well yeah, that's what it looks like. But he didn't invent diving. He's not the first to do it. He's identified a way to use his skill set to help his team attain results. Davies puts points on the board, and he put another point on the season total for D.C. United as the team secured a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake in Rio Tinto Stadium.
Watch the replay and notice how long it takes Terry Vaughn to run to the penalty spot. With slow motion and close-ups, we all know that there was little to no contact between Davies and Terry Wingert, but Vaughn doesn't have the same technological luxuries. He has to make an instantaneous decision from 20 yards out.
Don't blame Davies for taking advantage of an established cultural precedent in the world of soccer. Blame FIFA and U.S. Soccer for not putting an additional referee on the field or allowing instant replay.
So I don't feel bad at all for supporting Davies. And I definitely don't feel bad about leaving Utah with a point, because if the crossbar were raised two inches, all we'd be talking about right now would be Chris Pontius instead of Davies.
Full recap here. Player ratings below.
Hate all you want, but United would be walking away frustrated and pointless if not for Davies. His dive and corresponding penalty kick finish may have been the only positive contributions he made for D.C., but it was all we needed to beat Nick Rimando, which isn't something that has happened often this season. Pontius also beat Rimando twice, but couldn't beat that damn crossbar.
I also thought Daniel Woolard stood out in defense, clearing everything that came his way.
Andy Najar and Blake Brettschneider each had some good dangerous moments, but each also disappeared for too many stretches of the match. United needs to get its two goal-scorers from last week more involved throughout the match.
I thought it was an odd choice for Ben Olsen to remove both his central midfielders Clyde Simms and Stephen King at halftime and replace them with only Dax McCarty. Oh wait, King was still on the field? Could have fooled me. The central midfield really held United back tonight. Kyle Beckerman played a similar role to these three D.C. players, and he played it as well as the three of them combined. Simms was also responsible for the RSL penalty as Beckerman played the ball off his arm in the box.