Deja Vu all over again. Most of the problems that plagued D.C United during their 3-0 capitulation against the Columbus Crew we're repeated yesterday against Toronto. Again United failed to control the midfield way and failed to create anything worthwhile in the attack. There were some improvements: Luis Silva at times made some lovely linkups in the attacking third and Nick DeLeon received the ball more often in dangerous areas, but United ultimately lacked the cutting edge needed to break through.The rating system (and the ratings themselves) will be the same as last time, and I'll be adding a rating for Ben Olsen due to some, ahem, deficiencies on his part. Let's get into it.
Bill Hamid: 8.5
Hamid was sensational. His multiple saves against Jermaine Defoe kept United in the game. And while it's awesome to see Hamid perform at national team levels, it's painful to see the defense let him down so often. If there's one thing that's been clear through the first two games of the season it's that Hamid needs to be at the level he was yesterday for this team to have any chance going foreword. The defense just isn't good enough to keep shots from flying at Hamid.
Sean Franklin: 4.5
Last match Franklin was one of the better performers on a horrid back line, but this week we saw problems. Franklin struggled, often getting sucked in too close to the center backs and was unable to handle Alvaro Rey on the wing. On the attack Franklin was as involved as ever, even more so than against Columbus, but also was sloppier, failing to deal effectively with Toronto's pressure. If Franklin and DeLeon can develop some continuity on that wing then United could have a real weapon, but that hasn't happened yet. Franklin is still a improvement over last year, but the defense is something that could be a problem, especially with the center backs looking shaky.
Boswell looks better than Parke on the back line, but that's not saying much. The lack of pace is painfully obvious, and in a league as speed-dependent as the MLS that's a big problem. Like the Columbus game, Boswell was fine whenever Toronto was playing in front of him but that wasn't very often and when Toronto played in behind Boswell they had alarming success.
Jeff Parke: 3.5
The inability to recover on Defoe's goal is the obvious example but Parke struggled elsewhere as well, getting burned on the cross that led to Defoe hitting the post. It's become clear that Boswell and Parke simply won't work, either Birnbaum or Attakora (preferably Birnbaum) should get a chance because of their pace alone. Playing either Boswell or Parke with another center back could possibly work, but together is basically a telegraph to the rest of the league on how to score against United.
Cristian Fernandez: 4.5
Cristian didn't worry me as much as last week. I suppose we should celebrate another week without a red card, but again I saw little to no usefulness on the attacking end. Errant crosses, groan-worthy touches, and dicey passing defined the game again. Defensively he was marginally better, but still could be found wandering in weird places, worryingly far from his man. My early season excitement about Cristian has long worn off, so I hope we see something better next match.
Kitchen's distribution was hampered by the pitch, largely reduced to going backwards or laterally, but more disturbingly he failed to control the midfield defensively for the second straight match. As I touched upon in the last player ratings Kitchen is playing a position that demands excellence defensively and he just can't provide that. This doesn't mean Kitchen is a poor midfielder, we all know he isn't, but it does mean he needs more help. That's the kind of tactical problem that Olsen needs to figure out.
Luis Silva: 4.5
I gave Silva the slight tick over Kitchen because I enjoyed some of his creativity. As opposed to the Columbus game, he had some spots where he was able to combine and fashion chances for the rest of the offense. With that said, Silva appears entirely allergic to shooting and still disappears from games for large stretches. Once again Silva was expected to have a role on the defense and it hindered his play. I still cling on to hope that Silva can be a creative dynamo in this league -- he certainly has the technical skills -- but more consistency is needed.
Nick DeLeon: 5.5
Much better from DeLeon today. He worked harder off the ball and played in increasingly dangerous areas, a far cry from the Columbus game. United's best chance on the day was created by DeLeon and I'm looking foreword to seeing him once we fix the midfield situation.
Davy Arnaud: 4
I honestly didn't realize Arnaud was on the field until about 30 minutes into the match. The lack of a strong midfield rendered him obsolete. Arnaud is definitely an asset to have, just not one that should be in our starting lineup. Whenever Chris Pontius returns, Arnaud will return to being a good veteran option off the bench. Until then, we might have to deal with more of these absent performances.
Fabian Espindola: 3.5
I know, I know, that's a very low rating, but every time Espindola got the ball he ran it into a cul-de-sac and lost it. Espindola at his best is a rampaging force that bullies back lines and finishes lethally. But we've seen none of that these first two games. The lack of service is probably a big reason for his struggles but so is his refusal to simply pass the ball.
Johnson's hold up play remains very solid but the main facet of his game is finishing in the box and his teammates have given him next to no service. Let's hope that the chemistry among him, Luis Silva, and the rest of the attack might will develop with time, because Johnson won't score many goals if he continues to have to play with his back to goal.
Kyle Porter: 3
Porter was pretty horrific in his cameo yesterday. One of my biggest concerns about Porter is his one dimensional approach to attacking. He cuts inside and shoots or cuts inside and attempts a short pass. It's predictable and at this rate I think everybody in the league knows his game and he's struggling because of that. Last week I was hoping Ben Olsen would consider starting him over Arnaud, but his showing made me reconsider.
Conor Doyle: 5
Doyle was decent, had a couple nice touches and looked generally positive. I'm hoping he can get some more minutes going foreword, in part because it has to be better then what we've seen so far.
Ben Olsen: 2
I love Ben, but games like this that make me really consider his future as a head coach. The formation and players utilized clearly didn't work against the Crew. Perry Kitchen was torn apart in his lone holding role and both Boswell and Parke were consistently beaten. Yet Olsen used the same system, players, and general approach. The team seems content to have simple possession and try to make do with whatever chances come of it. Where's the aggression? There needs to be a change and quickly, or else Ben might find himself out of a job.