D.C. United has now used three different emergency partners for Brandon McDonald in central defense. Well Daniel Woolard has confirmed that he's the most competent of the three. Although we're all still hoping he won't have to play there many more times this year. McDonald and Woolard were each very good at reactive defending, cutting out many chances that the Houston Dynamo created. McDonald was also Dudaresque in his ability to step up and anticipate a few plays before they developed. Starting in Woolard's spot on the left, Chris Korb gave his best performance of the season, rendering the speed Calen Carr ineffective and coming up big on a few headers in the box.
Andy Najar reminded me of the player he was replacing on the left wing. He was United's main source of aggression, always pushing the team forward, and creating some decent chances, although his teammates always seemed to let him down in the final third. Najar has been a productive player for three straight matches now, and may be the next United player to join the list of guys who stepped up and claimed a starting spot when the chance presented itself. Its happened several times already this season. And it will be hard for Olsen to put Najar back on the bench.
The goal from Brad Davis was really quite nice. He struck the ball well with pace and accuracy, making it hard for Bill Hamid to deflect it out of the net. I think we could all agree that Hamid may have been able to do just a bit better though. I'm not going to say that we should start the goalkeeper controversy up again, but its quite possible that a taller goalie would have gotten more of the ball. Of course that particular taller goalie might not have made some of the other excellent saves that Hamid displayed. Aside from all that though, Hamid's distribution was really poor, and could definitely use some work.
Outside of a well-placed free kick in the dying stages of the match, Dwayne De Rosario wasn't his usual productive self. He and Maicon Santos each finished the match without a shot on goal, and neither created good chances for others either. And if Santos is going to make a habit of failing to finish 90 minute matches, and forcing Ben Olsen to use a vital substitute for him every match, he might soon find himself outside the starting 11.
Davis is the most dangerous Houston player by a wide margin, but rather than marking the midfielder tightly as he cut into the middle, King was marking the unoccupied space 10 yards in front of him. The gap between Woolard and McDonald wasn't exactly where we needed King at that moment, and it cost this team the match. It wasn't necessarily King's fault that he was thrust out of position. Being a true defensive midfielder isn't exactly a role he was born to play. Unfortunately, its a role he might be playing more often in the near future. Well, hopefully its just the near future, and not long term.