A fitting microcosm of Saturday night at RFK.
And, no, Mr-or-Ms. Smartypants, that headline doesn't refer (just) to the timing of this nominally Monday morning post on late Tuesday afternoon. By all accounts, D.C. United spent the first quarter hour or so of Saturday's game against the Montreal Impact drinking Arnold Palmers and occasionally letting Sanna Nyassi run at them.
But then they woke up. And almost scored a few different times before Chris Pontius finally broke through just before halftime. And then they ran out deserving 3-0 winners. NBD.
What They're Saying About It:
Shatzer: So much has changed amongst the United starting lineup so far this season, that its interesting and somewhat exhilirating to see so many players from our projected starting 11 back in our starting 11 once again. Guys keep challenging each other, but the best players still rise to the top. Those players turned in a dominating performance tonight at RFK Stadium, defeating the Montreal Impact 3-0 in a game that was never really close despite the first goal for United coming just before halftime. D.C. played like a team that has won six straight games at home, and like a team that is at the top of its conference. That's where United currently sits, and that's where they belong.
Goff: Following a 3-2 loss at New York last weekend, Olsen altered the lineup to get Branko Boskovic onto the field as the playmaker. That decision led to a series of moves that dropped Pontius to the left flank after several quality matches on the front line. He didn't seem the least bit bothered, cracking open the match against weary visitors who would've played for a draw in the second half.
Salazar: United held more than 60% of possession over the ninety minutes while completing 85.1% of their passes. Control of the ball led to an overwhelming advantage in scoring chances as the Black-and-Red created 18 attempts on goal compared to just four for Montreal. In fact, D.C. put more shots on target in second-half injury time than the Impact mustered all night.
Hund: So the opposition was solid defensively but not up to much on the attack. So Montreal were missing some of their key cogs to injury and suspension. So the first half wasn't United's finest effort. At the end of the night, United still ran out 3-0 winners, posted an emphatic response to last week's disappointing loss, and seized sole possession of first place in the East as their rivals for the top spot stumbled elsewhere.
Before the jump, a special shout out to Mr. Hund on the newest addition to his flock of Fullbacks. Mazel tov, amigo! (I love mixing languages.)
What I'm Saying About It
This is where it started feeling real for me. We've been saying all along that this team could be something special, and last weekend's workmanlike drubbing of an inferior team looked the part. It's not the scoreline that tells the story, though; more, it's that it feels a bit mundane. When you beat a team that's not really that far outside the playoff picture (though, admittedly, not that close, either), that's one thing. When you beat them 3-0, that's another. When you do that without ever really getting out of third gear, now you've got my attention. The Black-and-Red have some games coming up where we'll need to see them get into those higher gears, though, so there's still work to be done. Does anybody really think Ben Olsen is going to accept a string of third-gear games? Me either.
Jeremiah Oshan over at SBN Soccer joked in this week's power rankings (where los Capitalinos rate second) that United have built their records on wins over second-class opposition. Outside of home wins over New York and Houston, he's mostly right. As has been pointed out in a well-done FanPost (Seriously, keep those coming!), the back half of United's schedule is potentially tougher than the front. If United want to keep their run at the Eastern Conference crown, the Supporters' Shield and presumptive hosting rights to MLS Cup, Benny & Co. will have to get results in places like BBVA Compass Stadium, Rio Tinto Stadium and Livestrong Park, as well as continuing to win in the friendly confines.
- A lot of digital ink has been spilled in the last few days about United's depth all over the field. I second most of it.
- Has the competition clicked on the back line? Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic are playing at a much higher level than they did last year - how much of it is attributable to the lurking Argentine (currently) on the bench?
- Is it too soon to start campaigning for Party Boy for Comeback Player of the Year? (I certainly may have jumped the gun on Dudar's Newcomer of the Year, given his subsequent injury and dip in form. And benching.) Major injury followed by obliterating his career-high goal tally at the halfway point - seems to justify it if he can keep the form going and - knock wood - avoid injury.