The United defense held their own against one of the best teams in the league yet again.
D.C. United and FC Dallas have now played a full 180 minutes of soccer this season, and neither team has scored a single time. Maybe one of them will score when they meet again in the MLS Cup Final? (Dallas has to be the favorite at this point with David Ferreira returning in front of that stellar defense.)
Our defense was pretty good too though. Just like the first meeting between these two teams, they limited Dallas' chances, and just like last week against the New York Red Bulls, they hardly gave up any chances within 25 yards of goal.
With two draws each against FCD and the Los Angeles Galaxy, and with a win over the Seattle Sounders already in the books, United is guaranteed to have at least split the points against the three top teams in the Western Conference. That road draw against Real Salt Lake was money too. With a softer section of the schedule coming up (remember, we still get to play the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA twice), D.C. is in position to start making their move.
And as long as the temperature isn't always in the 90's or above, maybe they'll actually look to score some goals.
George John and Ugo Ihemulu are two of the best defenders in MLS. Its beginning to look like you can add Perry Kitchen's name to that list too. Going against a player in Brek Shea who is at the top of his game, it was vital for Kitchen to turn in a good performance. Well his performance was so good that it forced Shellas Hyndman to switch Shea to the right.
I was wondering if Ben Olsen was going to counter that move by also moving Kitchen to the opposite side. Olsen didn't. He trusted Daniel Woolard, and it turned out to be the right decision. Admittedly, Shea did have better chances when playing on the right, but Woolard always did well to recover enough to either eliminate the chance, or cut down the angle to force a more difficult and ultimately errant shot.
Brandon McDonald and Ethan White played well in the middle. They once again cut out every aerial opportunity from the opponent. Its really quite surprising that United is the only team in the league without a headed goal when the team has two center backs who are competent with their noggins, but I guess that's what happens when McDonald has the finishing ability of Dejan Jakovic. McDonald led the team in shots, which is a terrible sign for our offense.
Bill Hamid was in total control of his box, and has really come a long way this season. Seeing this kind of consistency from him is probably the most promising development of the past two weeks. United needs Hamid to be one of the top goalkeepers in the league if they're going to compete for a championship this year or next. He's well on his way to being just that.
As the lone central defensive midfielder for most of the past two matches, Clyde Simms has been playing the role the way we need him to play it. Sure, his passing isn't the most precise and he doesn't have the ability to win a ball and turn it into a quick counterattack. But he does have the ability to win a ball, stay in the right position to limit chances, and find open teammates in possession. That's what United needs from him, and as long as he can continue to do it, he'll keep his place on this team.
Joseph Ngwenya played a role similar to Simms', but 20 yards further up the field. The problem is that being strictly a ball winner without any attacking flare isn't exactly what we needed from Ngwenya in this match. I'd rather see my two forwards finish with more than 0 shots.
Chris Pontius, on the other hand, did finish with one shot, but probably should have had three or four. He seemed too intent on finding the perfect angle, which just wasn't going to come against this Dallas defense. Pontius' shooting has been outstanding this season, so why not take the chance? He'd probably at least hit the crossbar or something.
Dwayne De Rosario and Charlie Davies weren't as involved as I'd like them to be. For Davies, that's not entirely his fault because his position requires him to rely on his teammates to get the ball up top. For De Rosario, that's disappointing because he has more freedom to get the ball further back. Do we have reason to worry that we'll occasionally see games this season where De Rosario will be a complete non-factor?
United remains tied for in fifth place in the Eastern COnference with a game in hand against almost everyone in front of them. Well that game in hand comes this Wednesday night against the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium. Its a game in which D.C. needs to prove that they don't just play to the level of their opponents. If they can continuously get points on the road against the best teams in the league, they need to get the full points at home against the worst. Anything less than three points would be an unfortunate waste.