Thankfully, early-season Nick DeLeon showed up and Chris Pontius found net, or else this could have been the reaction we were remembering from Saturday night.
We started a minimum salary player at forward over our Albanian DP. We lost our only true left fullback to a bell-ringing. Despite dominating possession for most of the match, we completely ceded the ball in the last ten minutes to a team searching for an equalizer.
What They're Saying About It
Shatzer: D.C. United defeated the Columbus Crew 1-0 tonight at RFK Stadium, and DeLeon is a big reason why. On a quick attack that was started by Dwayne De Rosario, DeLeon took on Josh Williams 1v1. He beat him to the endline, then he beat him again. DeLeon slid the ball back across the face of the goal to Long Tan, who tried a back-heel that was stopped by a defender. The ball fell to Chris Pontius at the back post, and he had no trouble putting the ball away for his 10th goal of the season.
Salazar: DeLeon wasn't credited with an assist on the play, but the difference-making effort drew plenty of praise from around United's locker room. "Nick's biggest strength is going at guys 1-on-1," said Pontius, who recorded his team-high tenth goal of the year. "He did that tonight and I thought he showed the confidence that he had in the beginning of the year. That is huge for us."
Goff: The goal ended United's scoreless streak at 229 minutes in MLS regular season play and helped extend its home winning streak to seven. It also stretched the unbeaten run at RFK to 10 and put United (11-7-3) back on course after three losses in four games.
Darr: Bill Hamid was a rock in the back again this week. He commanded the box well, and broke up a few crosses. Hamid is quickly ascending to the top of the Goalkeeping ranks in the MLS. He leads the league in Goals Against Average and Save Percentage. Just another great week.
Davis: If there was justice in the world (or at least in the world of MLS stats) D.C. United right midfielder Nick DeLeon would get an assist on Chris Pontius' goal right after the break. It was all DeLeon, whose determined dribbling and nimble spin near goal eventually provided Pontius with the easy of close-range put-aways.
What I'm Saying About It
Let's just take things back-to-front, then.
- It's not just early-season Nick DeLeon who's back. The Bill Hamid that got looks with the U.S. national team and was first choice for the U-23 Olympic Qualifying team has returned to RFK. Dude was a monster in goal, right up to his game-ending punch of a Columbus corner - and good thing, too, or else Columbus might have gotten an early goal that would have made the night a lot longer for the Capital Club.
- Anybody else have Chris Korb penciled in at left fullback, with Andy Najar opposite, for next Saturday's game in Kansas City? Really hope Daniel Woolard gets lucky and doesn't have a bad concussion (not that there are any good ones). United's thinnest position may have gotten a little thinner with our second outside back in a month possibly going down to something more than short-term injury.
- Emiliano Dudar may be this year's DCU Rorschach Test: Fans see what they see. A lot of people are commenting that United's defense looked more calm and collected with el Dude next to Brandon McDonald - more anticipation, less last-ditch defending and running at our own goal. A lot of people are also pointing out his errant long balls on the night - though some of them did come off well - and the chances that Columbus did create.
- Perry Kitchen is becoming The Man in defensive midfield. Cutting out attacks, finding the right guy. He's growing into the role nicely.
- His free kicks weren't great, to say the least, but Branko Boskovic put in the work and went the full 90 for the first time since before his ACL tear. That's something.
- There's nothing but more praise that I can add to the heap on NDL and CP13.
- I'm really happy there's no midweek game this week, and not just because there are two of them back-to-back later this month. DeRo had his arm in a sling at Sunday's public event, due almost certainly to the hard tackle put on him by Carlos Mendes late in the first half. DeRo managed to finish out the game, and I wouldn't bet against him starting the game at Sporking Park, but I for one am pretty glad about the "extra" rest he'll get without a midweek contest.
- So, Long Tan really did get the start. And the guy never stops working. He doesn't have the skill or strength of Maicon F. Santos, but his workrate on the defensive side is probably unmatched on the D.C. roster. Add in his tendency to put himself into good positions and his so-far unpolished finishing, and he starts to look a little bit like a rookie-year Chris Pontius. Tan could certainly do worse.
I'll never complain about three points in the books, but United are going to have to be better if they're going to get a result in KC.