Martin asked on Twitter for someone who was at the reserve game for a recap. I figure I would give it a shot, and let people add or correct me in the comments.
It was a hot morning for soccer with the sun out in full force. A good number of people were in attendance with a few TFC fans. The D.C. United starting lineup for today’s match was Willis, Korb, White, McTavish, Burch, Barklage, King, Shanosky, da Luz; Davies, and Brettschnider.
Stephen King probably didn’t expect to be playing in this match, but due to circumstances out of his control, his game yesterday lasted only 10 minutes. Charlie Davies probably didn’t think he would ever play a reserve game at least in the MLS, but injuries and trades happen, and here he is.
For the most part of the match, it was very controlled and almost like watching an American football game with each side getting a chance to start in the backfield and work their way up. Both teams had good possession and attacks mainly focused on the wings with the occasional through pass only to be flagged offside most of the time.
The first half was rather uneventful with the exception of the referee calling for a stoppage in play at the 35th minute and then play resumed two minutes later. I’m not sure if he got confused and called it early then realized his mistake. Perhaps others could shed light on what happened there.
The second half saw more excitement as there were three goals. The first one was a PK earned for D.C. United by Austin De Luz for the second straight day. Austin made a good move into the box and was brought down without the ball by a TFC defender. Charlie Davies, of course, took the kick and buried it hopefully getting his PK confidence back a bit. D.C. became a little complacent and allowed a cross from the left and a heck of a finish by a TFC player to knot it at 1-1. Shortly after TFC scored, Davies was brought off for Najar who didn’t play yesterday (red card suspension). Najar employed his trickery and found himself surround by three TFC players and was taken down spotting a free kick on the right side outside the box. TFC forms a wall, but the goalkeeper isn’t satisfied with the wall's positioning shouting RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT, Exploiting the gap, Marc Burch delivers his signature free kick to put D.C. up 2-1 (see Houston Dynamo game 04-29-2011 for the almost exact same goal).
After that, TFC was just out of gas. United took possession and literally held it for few minutes in the mid-field without any challenge. The crowd started shouting "Ole" every time the ball was passed and I think the chant enraged the TFC players. They began to challenge and put up a fight for the ball, but it was too late as the final whistle blew. The final score was 2-1. No yellow or red cards were issued nor any were necessary. All in all, the match was clean and fair and well officiated.
I don’t want to comment on every player, but these are the players that stood out for me.
Joe Willis – Had a very good game. Came off his line when needed. Stopped a couple breakaways goals and wasn’t responsible for the only goal (from my perspective anyway).
Marc Burch – He had quite a game as he made some good strips, show some dribbling skills, and scored on the free kick. He was more active in the second half or maybe I just noticed him more because he was in front of me the second half.
Austin da Luz – Unpredictable player. When he has space and time, he can make things happen as we saw yesterday and again today, but he still has too many giveaways. Got a round of applause from the fans when he returned a ball skyrocketing it from midfield to the TFC goalkeeper only to have it go into the goal.
Conor Shanosky – He certainly towers over everyone. He wasn’t horrendous or special. I recall him giving a ball away in a dangerous place, but other than that, nothing rings a bell.
Blake Brettschneider – He didn’t have a good game. His passes were inaccurate, his timing was off, and his shots were weak. I would say it was encapsulated when he attempted a pass that hit the referee and he shouted "Come on" for everyone to hear on the field.
Charlie Davies – Well, I thought he would be able to mop up the TFC reserve defenders, but he didn’t exactly create any chances being offside often. While he scored on the PK, he didn’t earn it. To be fair, I don’t think he got the quality passes that might have helped, but even when he did have the ball and space, he didn’t have the dribbling skills to attack the defender. Kind of makes me wonder what we/he should do next year.
Jalen Robinson – came in for Devon McTavish (who did well), but got himself injured twice in 20 minutes. I thought they would have called it a day for him early, but there were no other players that could sub in for him so he had to stay. He finished the game looking all right (at least I hope).
This was my second reserve game this season. It is really quite fun to hear what the players say and what they shout to each other. One of the exchanges between TFC players who blew a good scoring chance had us laughing. It’s too bad that there won’t be any more for me at least this season. The next home game will be against New York Red Bulls Tuesday, September 13 at 3:00 and we play the Columbus Crew a month after that. We played NYRB at home in April and this game was probably scheduled in September to spread the games out. I'm glad that MLS brought back the reserve league and I hope it continues next season.