Many of us were hoping for six points for DC United out of this packed week of MLS action, but even with our stellar road record, that was always going to be too optimistic. Four points is the more hopefully realistic number. With tonight's tie against the Chicago Fire, that still remains a possibility.
But Sunday's big match against Sporting Kansas City just got even bigger.
This was far from United's best performance this year. Passes weren't connecting, Fire players weren't getting fooled on the dribble. Significant possession was hard to come by, as were good chances. At least in the first 70 minutes.
In the final 20 minutes, United was clearly the better team. They were themselves again. What was different? Well Santino Quaranta was in the game, and so was Josh Wolff. The two substitutes combined for the lone D.C. goal. I'd put good money on both of them starting Sunday, with Charlie Davies being the odd man out up top.
Full recap here. Player ratings below.
I question the direct attack method seen once again in the first half, but Ben Olsen otherwise deserves a lot of credit for the draw, because his substitutes Santino Quaranta and Josh Wolff made a huge difference off the bench. United wasn't getting anything offensively out of the central midfield prior, but Quaranta made an immediate impact by sending a long searching ball to De Rosario in the corner, and then finishing the play by holding the ball up just outside the box to allow Wolff to get into position to blast in the goal.
I had Clyde Simms rated much higher after the first half, as he was noticeably keeping Sebastian Grazzini out of the attack. Simms was never more than five yards away from the Argentinian when the ball was in one of the upper two-thirds of the field. But then Grazzini scored. And I cried.
The more attacking member of our central midfield partnership was supposed to be Stephen King, but I lost track of him for long portions of the match. We were hoping that King would develop a new sense of confidence after his goal last week, but apparently that won't be the case. If he was approximately level with Quaranta on the depth chart before tonight, it's a safe bet that he's now dropped a bit behind.
Some viewers might not want to blame Steve Cronin for the Chicago goal, but the ball really was struck right at him. Cronin has got to be stronger (hmm... like our other two goalkeepers you mean?) to either catch or deflect any ball that hits him in the arm. But the greater blame for the goal might fall on both Dejan Jakovic and Daniel Woolard. Neither played tremendously well, which was a bit disappointing given their recent form. Nyarko was giving Woolard problems all night, but it was Jakovic that he beat on the cross for Grazzini's goal.
Chest made the point earlier this week that Sporting Kansas City has a tendency to follow up bad performances with good performances, and good performances with bad performances. Well guess what. They beat the Portland Timbers 3-1 yesterday. This bodes well for D.C. United.
Bill Hamid's hamstring pull doesn't bode well for D.C. United though. We just have to cross our fingers for a speedy recovery. Wait. Do goalkeepers really need their hamstrings? I'm not entirely convinced that they do.