As an introduction to those who might be new to B&RU, we award ratings on a 1-5 scale to players who stood out in each United match, meaning that not every player gets a rating, and every rating isn’t always used. The banners feature former DCU greats (or not-so-greats).
I already spent a good chunk of the match review applauding Bill Hamid, who single-handedly kept D.C. United in this match until the 92nd minute. Some may point to the one or two times that he bobbled the ball as a weakness, but Hamid didn't give up a single rebound, and that's quite impressive considering the number of shots he faced. If this is the kind of standard performance we'll get from Hamid this season, United will win a lot of games, and this will probably be the goalkeeper's last season in MLS.
The ideas were there from both Chris Pontius and Hamdi Salihi, but the execution was just a bit off. Both players pushed a good opportunity just wide of the goal. Pontius was active on the left wing and even contributed defensively more than normal. Salihi did a nice job keeping possession and even winning corner kicks twice when he was deep in Sporting Kansas City territory and had no angle to do anything else. I saw enough from Salihi to know that more service and familiarity with his teammates will lead to some goals this year.
Andy Najar had a few nice runs up the right wing, beating his man roughly 50% of the time, which is an average we'll be happy to take. Najar's crossing accuracy was poor though, which was a disappointment considering that he seemed to really improve in this area last season.
Let's all keep in mind the fact that other than the final match of 2011 and one half of an international friendly, Perry Kitchen hasn't played central defensive midfield since he was a Zip. On Saturday night, it showed. Sporting players made their way through central midfield with relative ease, most noticeably just before halftime when he was beaten by Roger Espinoza, leading to the cross to Kei Kamara that forced a brilliant save from Hamid. Kitchen made a few good quick passes, but wasn't as great in possession as we need him to be.
I thought our center backs had a pretty good first half, limiting Kansas City to only one quality chance. But Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic were exploited in the second half, especially by CJ Sapong on the play that led to the free kick that led to the corner kick that led to the goal. Jakovic was out of position and Sapong overpowered McDonald, forcing the foul from behind. McDonald's long-range passing was terrible, but to his credit, he did break up quite a few plays.
This was a typical Daniel Woolard performance. He flew under the radar for most of the match, which isn't bad considering his main task was to neutralize Kamara. But yet he also wound up as the goat in the end. Kamara absolutely abused him on the play in the 45th minute, and he was at fault more than any other player on Sapong's goal.
This game wasn't lost on defense though. Holding the best attacking team in the Eastern Conference for 92 minutes should net us three points. But it didn't, because our offense couldn't score. Branko Boskovic was a non-factor in this match. He was far outclassed in central midfield by Graham Zusi. His pinpoint passing ability wasn't evident at any point on Saturday. Meanwhile, Dwayne De Rosario spent too much of this match either in an offside position, or on the ground as a result of being pushed off the ball. Fortunately, De Rosario is the type of player who can affect a game at any moment. Unfortunately, that moment never came.