Mr. Shatzer was correct when he said the natural feeling after giving up 5 goals is sorrow. We all knew this match had the potential to be a firecracker and it didn't disappoint. A 5-3 scoreline is something you see more often in a hockey or baseball game. While I do feel that sorrow that only comes at the end of 7-game unbeaten streak, there are some positives to take from this match, to be sure.
The guys we were slightly concerned about not scoring have now gotten that monkey off their backs. The first De Rosario goal was classic DeRo; long-distance, with pace, curling around the keeper. And it all stemmed from a constant work rate, never assuming the whistle was going to blow for a foul. Designated Player Hamdi Salihi put in a good 20-minute shift and finally found the back of the net in the 88th minute with a stone cold chip over San Jose keep Jon Busch. We finally see the quality finishing that the DC Front Office were promising was there. In addition to a couple guys scoring goals, Andy Najar has finally caught on to the entire compete-for-your-spot policy and has put in some good work from the bench in the past two matches, getting himself a great hardworking assist tonight.
Mr. Shatzer was also correct in identifying that the best healthy eleven players started the field tonight. Saturday's match in Toronto will provide an excellent opportunity for fans and coaches a like to get another look at some players who have been working hard in training to get back into the Starting XI. I would assume Saturday could be the return of Bill Hamid, who could get his first start since the home opener against Sporting Kansas City all the way back on March 10th. Andy Najar has performed well as a substitute the past two matches and, in my mind, has earned a start over Danny Cruz on the right wing, at least for this one upcoming match. And if for nothing else than to rest his legs, I see Hamdi Salihi getting the start over Chris Pontius. While neither Chris or Maicon Santos notched a goal tonight, tactically Salihi and Santos are a better option over Salihi and Pontius. Plus, since Pontius would be coming off the bench, I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see Josh Wolff get some minutes up top and I could see Chris subbing off Nick DeLeon on the left flank.
Expect to see Kitchen and Russell switch positions, Saragosa will stay in his D-mid role even though he probably wouldn't mind forgetting tonight's match, and DeRo and DeLeon will start in their usual spots. Some might say Toronto FC wouldn't be a bad time to see Lewis Neal get the start on the left, but I don't think Benny wants to really play an entire B team against the Reds. We need to get 3 points out of our visit to BMO Field and there's no reason to think we couldn't make it happen. But Toronto are backed into a corner, their playing at home in front of angry fans, and DC will be playing their third match in seven days. If United comes away from Toronto with anything less than a full 3 points, fans might have enough reason to question using a full-strength squad against a stronger opponent rather than on the worst team in the league.
All will come to light on Saturday, 4PM EST when the Black and Red face Toronto FC at BMO Field.