As a fan of both local teams, I entered this weekend's games for D.C. United and the Washington Redskins with a similar frame of mind. Both games were viewed as an opportunity to see some of the best attacking talent in their respective leagues, with very hope or expectations that my preferred team would prevail.
Only one of the local teams showed much of a fight. As it turned out, these low expectations were perfectly correct to hold for the Redskins' trip to Green Bay. But surprisingly, United gave the Los Angeles Galaxy a run for their money. United played the two-time defending champions even for all but the first 15 minutes of the match and emerged with a 2-2 tie.
- Steve Davis (Pro Soccer Talk): "After drawing with the LA Galaxy on Saturday, Olsen’s team has three home matches remaining, the best opportunities to pick up wins. With a 3-19-6 record, United needs two wins to keep from drawing level on fewest wins over a season in league history."
- Steven Goff (Washington Post): "United enjoyed just its third multiple-goal performance of the regular season and, for only the second time, recovered from a deficit to gain a point. The quality of the opponent added to the satisfaction: The Galaxy arsenal featured world-class forwards Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, a tandem that earns 31/ 2 times more than the United’s entire starting lineup."
- Ben Olsen (dcunited.com): "I think the difference between tonight and a lot of our games this year is that everybody showed up and played well. Everybody did their job, including the subs, and we had a couple guys who I thought played great. That’s the recipe to try to get results, especially against really good teams like that. I love the courage to come back from both goals and tie it up and have a look or two at the end to get a win."
- Kyle Porter (dcunited.com): "It’s tough to come back from two goals from a great team like the Galaxy. It just shows we can play with the best. We’re at the bottom of the table, but we can still play with the best. It’s very big, especially for our big [Open Cup] game upcoming. It just helps us put it forward. Everyone getting healthy, everyone gelling. We’re just pushing for that Cup."
- Josie Becker (LAG Confidential): "It was a match LA could have won if it weren't for their defensive mistakes, which some might chalk up to fatigue. With traveling Donovan only lasting a half, traveling Gonzalez standing still to allow a goal, and traveling Penedo allowing two goals there's certainly some evidence to support that theory."
- One of the most noticeably distinct elements in teams coached by Ben Olsen is his desire to have a central midfield who is willing to work hard to get himself open whenever his team has the ball, even if that means dropping all the way back level with the center backs. Of all the players Olsen has tried in this role, Lewis Neal might fit it best. Neal played well on Saturday, not only acting as an outlet for his teammates whenever United was in possession, but also disrupting the Galaxy's ball movement.
- For so long we've desperately wanted United's two most talented center backs to be able to work together as a solid partnership. But they don't. For whatever damn reason, Dejan Jakovic and Ethan White have never been good together. We probably didn't need any more proof of that, but we got it anyway.
- Seeing Chris Pontius come back to life though? Yeah, totally worth it.
The Last Word
We were all feeling terrible about this team after a tremendously boring and disappointing loss to Chivas USA. But fortunately, the only remaining match that matters this season isn't against a crappy team like Chivas USA. It's against a really good team! We know how to play well against really good teams!
If Real Salt Lake really wants to win the U.S. Open Cup, they should probably bench all their good players and quickly begin a losing streak. Otherwise, if they continue to be a really good team, United might actually have a shot.