It can't ever be easy can it? Around midway through the second half, it looked as though United had a solid chance at another gritty 1-0 victory...but then Juan Guzman struck and struck hard. I don't know what compelled Guzman to decline to red card Giancarlo Gonzalez on a textbook clear path foul, but it shouldn't have kept United from closing out a game where they gained a man advantage just ten minutes later. Even while up a man, United couldn't keep the Crew from controlling the game and eventually securing the equalizer late on. Guzman's decision stung, as you never want to see a ref influence a game like that, but United need to have the resiliency to close that game out. Here are the match ratings.
I don't blame Dykstra for Hector Jimenez's late equalizing goal, but it was the only time he was truly tested and for that his match rating suffers. This doesn't change my thoughts on Dykstra, he is after all partially responsible for both of United's clean sheets this season, but does a healthy Bill Hamid makes the match-winning save on Jimenez?
Sean Franklin: 5.5
Franklin had a uncharacteristically sloppy game in the attack third, failing to cleanly combine with DeLeon and the center midfielders on multiple occasions. That aside, his defense was largely very sturdy before his unfortunate decision to rampage up the field on the counter attack that led to the Crew's tying goal. Plays like that are difficult to lampoon because it becomes a excellent decision if Espindola slots home Franklin's pass, but instead Espindola was dispossessed and Jimenez scored soon thereafter from the spot where Franklin should have been.
Defended well all night before standing off Jimenez too far on the tying goal. Jimenez is tricky and Boswell should have had help from Franklin but that was ultimately the crucial moment in the game. Optimism still abounds however because we saw a third consecutive game of quality defending from the back line and would have had a third straight clean sheet if a few breaks went United's way.
Jeff Parke: 7
Another 90 minutes of strong defending from Parke and with Ethan White continuing to languish on the bench in Philly that trade is looking better and better.
Cristian! The Spaniard's best performance in black and red so far was my biggest positive from the match. Even without venturing into the Crew's half for most of the match, Cristian turned in another competent performance defensively. Chris Korb is still injured and Taylor Kemp requires more Richmond seasoning, so let's hope for more 7's from Cristian.
Perry Kitchen: 5.5
For a second straight match Ben Olsen had his midfielders sink back into their half and let the Crew's midfield trifecta have the majority of the ball. The tactic again worked well up until Bernardo Anor's red card. At that point Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud should have seized more possession of the ball bringing United out of its own half. Instead, United let a ten man Crew side continue their encampment in United's half and secure the tying goal in short order.
Davy Arnaud: 5
I suppose Arnaud technically plays the "attacking" position in United's midfield duo, but more often than not he feels like a wind-up toy. He gets stuck into challenges, chases the ball, and scampers forward when possible. Grunt work is needed but we also need more skill there. Arnaud is United's second best midfield option at the moment, but it makes me yearn for a better option. If United doesn't make a move this summer for a center mid, then it needs to be on the top of next off season's shopping list.
Nick DeLeon: 7
The most consistent criticism on DeLeon since his entering the league has been his occasionally lacking end product. This season DeLeon has used his power and pace to find himself in plenty of dangerous positions, only to pick the wrong option. His pass to Espindola for the opening goal was exactly what I've been looking for from DeLeon: quick, decisive, and accurate.
Chris Rolfe: 5
Rolfe never got into the game, so was often reduced to defending on the left flank. He did fine, but Rolfe's game hinges on how many times he gets on the ball in dangerous positions.
Sigh. It wouldn't be fair to give EJ a rating below 5 because he is doing all the little things so well: holding up the ball, providing pressure up top, getting into dangerous positions. Juan Guzman's decision on the breakaway was ridiculous, and will get a lot of attention, but it's important to note that it was caused by the power and speed of EJ. The way United is playing isn't conducive to EJ,'s game. There isn't much service from the flanks and the players up top often have to fashion chances out of occasional counter attacks. But eventually he needs to start making good on these chances. That comes with the territory of being a DP.
Prior to Espindola's thunderous finish, it wasn't shaping up to be a great game to him and to be honest he didn't do that well after. However, such is the life of a striker, one powerful moment provided the early advantage for United, and nearly set the team up for a win. United's style of play seems well-suited to Espindola. He's always been a player who thrives on the break, feasting on chances that spring up on turnovers. Until EJ finds his feet, it looks like United's attack will be relying on Espindola to make good of those counter attacking chances.
Lewis Neal: 5.5
Fine, I guess. As I'm sure most of you have noticed, most Lewis Neal games go the same way.
Conor Doyle: 5
Honestly, he did next to nothing in his time on the field.
Alex Caskey: 4
Olsen brought Caskey on to solidify the defense and a goal was scored on his side of the pitch five minutes later. Hard to frame that in a positive light.