What a great night for D.C. sports, and it all happened in the same city. Wouldn't it be great if the players from D.C. United and the Washington Capitals met up for drinks on Canal Street to celebrate their wins?
This was the kind of match that good teams win. Playing on the road against a team just ahead of them in the standings, United overcame some sloppy defending and missed opportunities to pull away 2-1 victors late in today's match over the New England Revolution.
After such encouraging results against difficult opponents the previous three weeks, a draw would have been a sign that this United team was just going to spend the season playing to the level of their opponents. Suddenly I would have been worried about Wednesday's match against the Montreal Impact too. Just one week after going toe-to-toe with the Seattle Sounders, widely considered one of the top three or four teams in MLS, was D.C. really going to put forth a lackluster effort against a less talented team? Sure it was on the road, sure its still early in the season, but the Revolution are a team that we need to beat if we want to be considered a playoff team in 2012.
Well United does consider itself a playoff team this year. And perhaps it will be.This win feels good for a lot of reasons. Because it was on the road. Because it was against an Eastern Conference rival. Because we overcame adversity. But there are reasons to be slightly concerned too. If this team gave this effort against a stronger team, we'd have three fewer points right now. United must show better in upcoming games against the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo. The sloppiness was seen too often in different spots on the field. Like in D.C.'s defensive third, where the Revolution wingers and fullbacks were able to get off free cross after free cross. Or like when transitioning to attack, when the play would slow too quickly because a United player made the wrong pass. There are several areas which require improvement after today.
Coaching probably isn't one of them though. Ben Olsen's substitutes made a real mark on this game, with Josh Wolff creating chances from the moment he stepped on the field, to Chris Pontius giving us the win shortly thereafter with his patented cut-to-the-right-foot-from-the-left-wing-and-curl-the-ball-around-the-goalie-and-into-the-far-post move. Otherwise known as the Pontius Special. And while I was shaking my head muttering "too many games without Andy Najar" just before Pontius' goal, Olsen's decisions proved effective.
Olsen won't have much time to address our concerns though. United is back in action on Wednesday night against the Impact with its best chance to date to earn back-to-back wins for the first time since 2009.
The back line will need to be sorted out, as we all cross our fingers that the injuries to Emiliano Dudar and Dejan Jakovic are short-term. And the attack could still use some work too, as our three designated players still remain goalless while our best offensive threat remains a rookie midfielder named Nick DeLeon.
But if good teams beat tough but less talented teams on the road, what does a good team do to an expansion team at home?