Hey Toronto FC. Have we got a deal for you! You don't really want to take a three-hour flight south, do you? You'd much rather play in the friendly confines of BMO Field than the heat of RFK Stadium, right? Get this - we'll come to you!
D.C. United is now undefeated in six straight road games, while simultaneously struggling at home. Its one of those unexplainable stats that will probably return to the mean at some point this year. Maybe starting Saturday.
United took advantage of a weak San Jose Earthquakes team playing without many of their key starters, and with their usual trademark questionable roster lineup decisions. How did we do it? Really just by playing our game. Nothing special.
Well I guess that's wrong. Dwayne De Rosario had a pretty special night, putting the ball in the back of the net twice for D.C. His second half finishing was clinical. He was playing at a different level from everyone else on the field for a period of time.
But the shutout was formulaic. United's done it before and they'll do it again. The defense limits the offense to only low-probability outside shots, and Bill Hamid is quick enough and positioned well enough to handle anything from distance. There were a few close-range shots I guess. Hamid handled those too.
Full recap here. Player ratings below.
I was disappointed at De Rosario in the first half for wasting a chance by going at goal rather than passing to an open Brettschneider to his right. I shouldn't be critical though. Obviously the dude knows what he's doing. In the second half, he didn't need to pass to anybody for the winning goal. He finished it cleanly himself. But the second goal, placed just inside the far upper corner of the net, was what impressed us the most. This is what we signed up for in acquiring DeRo.
But maybe the best news of the night was that Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic can play well together. They won headers, they won tackles, they did everything necessary to keep the clean sheet. We were concerned that Jakovic wouldn't be ready after his disappointing appearance against Everton, but this was a different player. Consistent play without mistakes is what we've always been looking for from Jakovic, and its what we got tonight. Hamid did his part to preserve the shutout, including one point blank kick save on Chris Wondolowski late in the game. Clyde Simms also stepped up to make sure that the Earthquakes didn't get many open chances. This team has now given up just one goal in their last four games.
On a small field like Buck Shaw, the effectiveness of good wingers can sometimes be diminished. We saw that happening in the first half, as Chris Pontius disappeared for long stretches and Andy Najar kept having to drift inside to generate opportunities. But poor defenders won't keep good wingers quiet for 90 minutes. Both Pontius and Najar contributed assists to De Rosario in this match.
As pointed out on Twitter by United's Mark McClure, De Rosario has now scored against two of his former MLS teams. United plays Toronto this Saturday.
Unfortunately they'll do it without Najar, who picked up a red card (right call by the way, in my opinion) in the 70th minute. Likely replacement? How about Brandon Barklage? Surely United will miss Najar, but it will also help having Charlie Davies and possibly Josh Wolff healthy enough to get back in.