On their first return to New Jersey's Red Bull Arena since D.C. United dispatched the New York Red Bulls in the 2012 Major League Soccer playoffs, both teams faced similar circumstances to last November's match: snow, lots of empty seats, and the Red Bulls desperate for a home win. This time, however, D.C. United wasn't able to pull out any offensive magic, although Bill Hamid was nothing short of Houdini-esque in keeping the Red Bulls off the scoreboard and preserving a 0-0 draw. And, as has become the trend early in the 2013 season, this game left many D.C. United fans questioning how good this team really is even while it earned a tough road point early in the season.
What They Said:
- Steven Goff: "This 0-0 draw with New York felt like a victory because, although United's attack coughed and sputtered all Saturday afternoon, the club withstood unbearable pressure. And thanks to goalkeeper Bill Hamid's spectacular performance and help from the crossbar, United managed to get away with a point it didn't deserve..."I don't know how we came out of that with a point," midfielder Chris Pontius said, shaking his head."..."I was pleased with the commitment and fight, but on the soccer side, we need to get a lot better, particularly the midfield," Olsen said."
- Thomas Floyd: "With U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard sidelined by a back injury, Hamid's form could earn him consideration to be a backup to Brad Guzan when the roster for two upcoming World Cup qualifiers is announced next week. When asked if not being in the national team picture - as he wasn't for nearly a year before his January call-up - fired him up, Hamid offered a simple response: "Of course." "It's no surprise why he's the goalie of the future," center back Brandon McDonald said. "He's matured. He sees what his potential is and he's trying to achieve it. You can look at him and see that.""
- Ben Olsen, at dcunited.com: "I think all teams would come here and feel fortunate with a point. This isn't an easy place to play. They are a real team, with some real players. It got into a back and forth game, that's not the game you really want to deal with. I really credit our defense, led of course by Bill (Hamid) who made some big time saves but (Brandon McDonald) and Dejan (Jakovic) anchored in front of and that led to a pretty good defense tonight. It's a gutsy point I think."
- Ben Olsen, at dcunited.com: "We pissed the ball away so many times when we didn't need to. We are missing that in our game right now. We know that, I know that, the players know. We'll continue to work on it; we'll continue to be better with the ball. It's about options, it's about wanting the ball, it's about quality of passing, our forwards have to do a better job of holding the ball up for us. There is a lot to work on with this group, but what we don't need to work on right now it's being a gutsy group."
- Ben Olsen, at dcunited.com, on Bill Hamid: "He was great; he has been very good since the moment he got back from (U.S.) National Team Camp. He is a new man. We talk about consistency with him, making sure he is as even-keeled as possible - on and off the field - he is staying big and making big saves, he is making saves he needs to make, but he is also pulling one or two out of his hat that are saveless."
- Bill Hamid, at dcunited.com: "It did not go over... It was close, it was close. It bobbled around, it ping ponged but I got there before it went over the line."
- Dax McCarty, at dcunited.com: "I think probably one of the most dominating performances I've been a part of since I've been on the Red Bulls. I'm not one to really give the whole complain about luck card but that's just unlucky. I don't know how many balls were inside the six, cleared off the line, rolling across, and Bill Hamid, give him some credit, some unbelievable saves. It's disappointing but at the same time you can see the confidence that we played with today and Mike [Petke] instilled that in us before the game. We were ready and I think they had absolutely nothing. That was a complete performance and we haven't had many since I've been here. That was a complete 90 minute performance from top to bottom. Defensively, we were very strong and attacking wise, what can you say, a little more luck and we come out of here with three points."
What the Black and Red United Staff Said:
- Adam: "It was a bad day for D.C. United, but we still got something out of it. United won't be able to keep getting results playing this way, and hopefully they won't have to. So many individual players had bad days - if they step up just to their average games, we see a much different attack than we did today, even without any tactical or personnel changes, and we probably aren't as disappointed in escaping with 0-0. We'll get our chance to see those individual improvements - which I fully expect to happen if only because so many players had such bad performances - along with any changes Ben Olsen might make in one week, when United will take on the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium."
- Ben (during the course of play): "Is it a coincidence that United's attack has looked far better since Sanchez come in?"
- Jason: "We need to improve, a lot, for Columbus. De Ro and Pajoy need to play much, much better, and DeLeon needs to pair his play in the middle third (which was actually pretty decent) with a final ball that isn't crushed. He seemed tense today, and that came through in those key moments. What a weird game. I am both pleased that we had the fortitude to survive the barrage, and badly disappointed that we weren't good enough to actually play some soccer against this NYRB team."
Well, that was lucky. NYRB much, much better today than in previous 2 games. #DCU wasteful w/ ball too often in attack— Jason (@chestrockwell14) March 16, 2013
- Martin (during the course of play): "As one of this site's chief Apajologists. I must admit that he's having a terrible game." Also, "They're out-physicalling us. That's supposed to be one of our strengths."
- Rick (during the course of play):
Halftime. 1) Deleon looks like he ran the Rock n' Roll Marathon before the game. 2) Saragosa bad, but no natural replacement. 3) Pajoy. #DCU— Rick (@BlasianSays) March 16, 2013
What I Say:
Who says a 0-0 game is boring? In a game which will surely be a highlight for Bill Hamid no matter how long his career runs, D.C. United relied on its point-blank defenses in the form of Hamid's ridiculous and entertaining saves, Dejan Jakovic's and Brandon McDonald's just-in-time tackles, Chris Korb's goal line clearance, and the woodwork to hang on for a draw against New York. The Red-and-Black were on their heels virtually the entire game, unable to effectively mount an attack against the energized Red Bulls, with the exception of a Dwayne De Rosario sequence early in the match when he drew New York goalie Luis Robles out of the penalty box but was unable to get a shot off on the open goal, and Chris Pontius' 59th minute shot that was nicely saved by a proactive Robles.
D.C. United struggled mightily for the second time in two road matches this season. Lionard Pajoy, DeRo, Pontius, Nick DeLeon, and James Riley were not on form, while Perry Kitchen continued to look good on defense while growing into his responsibilities on offense. Fortunately, Hamid, Jakovic, McDonald, and Korb managed to make up for the offense's lack of production and the midfield's inability to hold the ball for any length of time until late in the game.
The Last Word:
This game could have easily ended 4-0 against D.C. United. That is cause for great concern, while also reason for solace since D.C. United played as poorly as they are likely to play and still pulled out a point against one of the most talented teams in MLS. With that said, New York and its fans know they let 2 points slip away, and their disappointment was evident as boos rained down on the field at the final whistle, all at the hands of their hated rival.
After the first three games of the 2013 season, D.C. United is 1W-1L-1D (4 points). This puts them ahead of last year's pace three games into the season when they were 0W-2L-1D (1 point). They also earned a point at Red Bull Arena, a place they lost their only game last year. On Saturday, Aug. 31, D.C. United will get to see if they can get another result in New Jersey when they play their third game of the season against New York.
Finally, as D.C. United fans, let's truly enjoy the greatness of Bill Hamid in all its glory right now. He appears to be on his best form ever, and this kind of play will almost certainly result in some type of call up with the U.S. Men's National Team this year--whether for World Cup Qualifying or for the Gold Cup, meaning he will likely miss D.C. United games in the next few months to suit up for the Red, White, and Blue. Additionally, can Europe not be paying attention? We should enjoy this now, because it's looking more and more likely that this will be our last year with him between the posts for D.C. United. That's certainly not a new revelation, but his current play is only making it more inevitable right now.