The Last Word On D.C. United's Draw Against Sporting Kansas City

USA TODAY Sports

The losing streak is no more, but there's still not a whole lot of optimism around RFK Stadium. No more half measures, Ben.

I didn't know that 1-8-1 was even possible for a legitimate MLS team (defined as any team that isn't in its expasion season or hailing from Toronto). Whether we truly deserved it or not, for some reason 1-8-2 looks much better.

The past two matches were truly reasonable results for a mediocre team to get against some of the top teams in the league. Mediocre teams lose close matches on the road against the leaders and tie at home against the Conference favorites. A mediocre team should also gain at least five points from the next three matches. That's how the climb out of the cellar should start.

Their Words

- Ben Olsen (via dcunited.com): "It wasn’t a great performance from us, but it was a gutsy performance. It’s what we needed right now to change our course. Again, things don’t go your way, especially when you have a bunch of losses and guys doubt themselves a little bit. You’ve got to dig in and find a way to get results. That starts to steamroll into confidence, and that is how you get out of this stuff. Unfortunately, I’ve been through these before when I first started my coaching career and I watched it from an assistant coach’s standpoint. You have to have everyone committed. You need a bounce here and there."

- Ethan White (via dcunited.com): "We’re not completely out of the ditch, but it’s a step in the right direction. We fought hard, and we had some chances on goal and put in some good balls and actually have them on their heels for a little bit. It feels good to take a step forward.”

- Carlos Ruiz (via MLSsoccer.com): "Never in my career have I had the experience I've had in D.C. ... I would like to clarify something: I am physically at one hundred percent and this is not something that can be attributed to the fact that I'm injured, sick or have not recovered my physical condition ... These are the determinations of the coaching staff."

- Ben Gartland (via SB Nation's The Daily Wiz): "Sporting had a couple of chances late in the match and, given the recent history of Sporting beating United late, they seemed ripe for another goal opportunity. However they were not able to put a goal behind Bill Hamid's line and they ended up with a final score of 1-1."

- Craig Stouffer (via Washington Examiner): "Ironically, it was the officials who took away a goal from the visitors in the 30th minute. Capitalizing on a dominant stretch of possession, Kansas City defender Matt Besler surged toward the end line and cut the ball back to Jacob Peterson, who slid it perfectly to wide-open Ike Opara for a tap-in finish. But assistant referee Matthew Nelson raised his flag and referee Jair Marrufo blew his whistle even though replays showed as many as three United players keeping Opara onside when the pass was delivered"

- Assistant Referee Matthew Nelson (via Soccer Insider): "I misjudged the play at the time the ball was kicked, leading me to believe the player was in an offside position."

My Words

- And now playing the role of 2010-11 Andy Najar, please welcome Kyle Porter! During his time in D.C., Najar was most known for his dribbling skills and escapability, but Najar had an incredible ability to make a late run and show up at the back post to finish off a cross. That's exactly what Porter did yesterday, ending a well-timed run with a simple little finish. Let's do that more often please.

- With Chris Pontius clearly at less than full health, I was hoping this would be the match in which Olsen would place Pontius atop the formation for his appearance in the second half. Pontius was instead employed in his usual left midfield spot, and rewarded Olsen for that choice with a great cross to earn the assist on Porter's goal.

- I had the same terrible thought repeatedly throughout this match: We have the worst fullbacks in the league. Chris Korb hasn't yet shown the quality that had us singing his praises at the end of last season, and Daniel Woolard is a far cry from his top form. It was embarassing how often and how decidedly Graham Zusi was able to beat Woolard on SKC's right side. Unless Taylor Kemp's defensive abilities improve quickly, fullback should remain our biggest target for an acquisition.

- Nice to see you again, Bill Hamid. Thanks for dismissing your evil twin. Hope you stick around a while.

The Last Word

... goes to one of my favorite television characters of all time:

"The moral of this story is that I chose a half measure, when I should have gone all the way. I'll never make that mistake again. No more half measures, Walter."

(Mike Ehrmantraut, Breaking Bad)

Before kickoff, Steve Goff tweeted that the average age of United's 10 starters not named Dwayne De Rosario was 23.5 years old. The qualification in this statement suggests that Ben Olsen's lineup choice for this match was a half measure. The full measure would have been to remove De Rosario as well.

If you're going to turn this season over to the youngsters, why not go all the way? There was a moment in this match that symbolized this conundrum. Nick DeLeon intercepted a Sporting pass and then pushed the ball in front of him to start a run. But De Rosario intervened, taking the ball from DeLeon, slowing the play down, and almost forcing a collision. It should be said that De Rosario played pretty well in this match and shouldn't be faulted for our inability to capture the full points, but at some point United is going to have to get more production from his area of the field.

I thought this would be the match it would happen. By inserting DeLeon at central midfield, Olsen was trying something new - giving a dynamic young attacker more responsibility in the attack. The problem though is that he didn't take the same responsibility away from De Rosario.

Why not hand DeLeon the keys? Why choose a half measure when we could have gone all the way?

The half measure analogy is furthered by Olsen's substitutions in the second half. Taylor Kemp brought some life to the left wing, but he was given only one half of action. And by the 60th minute, with Chris Pontius and Lionard Pajoy reclaiming their usual positions, United was back to having most of the lineup that had lost the previous seven matches. Giving Kemp and Casey Townsend only 45-60 minutes of action is a half measure, and if Pontius doesn't have full fitness yet, why not use his limited time by placing him closer to the goal?

Breaking Bad fans know that Mike never really did learn his lesson. Mike employed half measures throughout his relationship with Walter White when he probably should have gone all the way.

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