Defensive woes sink United, as San Jose prove why they're #1 in the Western Conference.
Frank Yallop maintained his 4-4-2, and but started Khari Stephenson as the holding midfielder instead of his usual place in the hole.
A very open contest with a plethora of attacking football, and more goals than an all-star game.
San Jose's formation was unchanged, and having gone six games unbeaten at home, there was little recourse for Yallop to change his side. The focus however was more so on Ben Olsen's bandaged back line, and whether or not it would hold up in this contest. United came swinging out of the gate full of pace and purpose, and were rewarded for their efforts with a sensational strike by Dero in the 8th minute scorching a whistler of a strike, placed in the upper 90. D.C. United hadn't rested on their laurels and pressed on, but paid the price for going forward when the pressure deemed too much for the makeshift back line to hold, and Steven Lenhart put a rocket past Joe Willis for the equalizer.
With the loss of his usual starters in defense, Olsen was forced to move his DM into the back line, leaving Saragosa to his own vices in midfield. However, Saragosa looked as if he'd been playing backyard football for the better half of the season for his pace, understanding, and movement were all sub par. United paid the price for their gamble being rendered useless in bringing the ball out of defense, giving up two goals back to back in under 3 minutes.
Wondolowski vs. United's Back line.
The movement and quick thinking of current league leading scorer Chris Wondolowski proved to be too much to handle with the striker finding his brace on the night. His movement between defenders, and ability to take advantage of United's inability to press paid dividends. Time and time again he found himself in open space with the ball at his feet, and the perfect amount of time to make a proper decision. His run's off the ball, and his link up play with Lenhart, and Marvin Chavez coming in off the flank were on point.
Olsen brought off Saragosa, and slotted in Andy Najar to RB. Robbie Russell slid over to CB, and Kitchen made his way back to DM. With this unique change, United were now able to get some kind of grasp on the game, and play. Kitchen was able to play his role and spread the ball 360 degrees for the remainder of the match, but throughout the half, United failed to slow the ball down. There was a case of mistaken identity between urgency and desperation with United choosing the latter, and as the half wore on, the pressure, and relative ease San Jose attacked with began to grow.
The positives on the night weren't plentiful, but I did enjoy the fact that Ben Olsen didn't stay in his ways when he saw there was a problem. Many times managers allow situations to further, and allow a team to "get back into it" or "find their way", and while i'm definitely all for that, this was simply not that night. And who will forget the night Hamdi Salihi finally chose to show up and show us something other than long distance shots that never mounted to anything. For all the talk surrounding him, he finally showed us a goal of class with a deft touch over Jon Busch to find our third and final goal.
Sure he might be Real Madrid's starlet Kaka's best friend, and sure he grew up in Brazil alongside the former Milan playmaker, but that's where the buck stops for me when speaking of Saragosa. For someone who'd be going into a highly contested bout with arguably the hottest team in MLS, you would think a little more preparation would go into your job. Saragosa showed zero guile to make himself part of this match, failing to do the simplest of tasks that many U-11 midfielders could perform. Check in's, fail. Following plays, fail. Defend anyone in a black shirt, fail. Put the shirt with your name on it? Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Reaching the halfway point, a solemn look came upon his face as if to signal to United's coaching staff, "I do not want to be here right now nor do I know what I'm doing." E for effort? That's being kind.
This was never going to be an easy match, even with a healthy back line, let alone a stand in one. Our attacking seven we're outgunned by theirs, simply put. Whilst the proper changes were made during the match, i'd argue whether or not the proper starters were in the match to being with. Chris Korb is a natural defender, so why Benny would go with his DM, who's been stellar in his role up to this point, as a CB... only he would know. All in all, this was a game full of goals, and offensively we have much to be proud of, but tonight simply wasn't for us. The final score might of read 5-2, but there's a small part of me feels as if that score line tells a wee bit of a porky pie. But "B-D, B-D, B-D That's all folks!" Time to regroup and get ready for Toronto FC.