Victory! I forgot what that felt like. After weeks of porous defense or stagnant attack, D.C. United's solid showing in Saturday's clash against the New England Revolution looked and felt foreign to this beleaguered writer's eyes. The offense combined effectively, the midfield held their own, and while the Revs had their moments, the defense generally kept things tidy at the back. All these factors add up to more pleasant ratings across the board.
Andrew Dykstra: 6.5
Only had one save to make but looked comfortable deputizing for Bill Hamid. Dykstra came off his line confidently and, more importantly, looked in touch with his back four, which is the most important thing for back up keeper.
Sean Franklin: 6.5
Not nearly as involved offensively as in previous games but more sound defensively. The Revs haven't had the greatest go of things this year but their offense is still plenty good enough to cause problems and Franklin dealt well with whoever popped up on his flank.
Bobby Boswell: 7.5
The struggles of Boswell at the back this season have been well documented on B&RU, so it should be noted when he plays very well. Boswell handled the Revs attacks all evening, being aggressive on his challenges, commanding in the air, and preventing the Revs from getting in behind. Diego Fagundez is one of the most electric attackers in the league, but he was often reduced to simple possession. Boswell deserves some credit for that.
Jeff Parke: 8
Fantastic performance from Parke Saturday night, the kind I'm sure Dave Kasper & Co. were envisioning when they dealt for him this past off-season. Parke had much of the same qualities as Boswell performance with the added bonus of a 90% pass completion rate. I'm still not sure if Boswell-Parke is the best pairing for the back line, but this clean sheet should keep them firmly entrenched as the first choice pairing.
Yes, you read that correctly, Cristian scored a 6. The newly imported Spanish left back has had a rough go of things so far this season but had a decent showing on Saturday night. It was his cross that caused the Jose Goncalves own goal, and he was active the entire night on the wing, whipping in several dangerous balls. Now, there were also some patented Christian moments too. He let Fagundez breeze past him on Saer Sene's doorstep miss and also gave Teal Bunbury a lovely pass for his errant curling effort early in the second half. Nevertheless, the performance will keep him in the starting XI for at least another match.
Perry Kitchen: 8.5
Best player on the field, by a distance too. One of the better games I've ever seen him play. Commanded the midfield with an iron fist, not only breaking up Revs attacks but also spraying the ball around dangerously for the full ninety minutes. His pass to DeLeon was one of the best I've seen from the United player in a couple years. This may not be the year for United, but it is looking like the start of a career year for Perry Kitchen.
Davy Arnaud: 5.5
Offense was very shaky, but I think some may underestimate Arnaud's defensive work on the night. For the first few games this year we've have Perry Kitchen ostensibly doing all of the dirty work in the midfield. Having Arnaud in there meant more pressure and less focus on Kitchen. This allowed Kitchen to distribute some lovely balls as he's entirely capable of, but often doesn't get the time to do. Arnaud is far from ideal if he remains so rough in the attack, but he's the best choice for the midfield given his work rate defensively.
Lewis Neal: 5
Would have been your average Lewis Neal game if not for his nasty studs up challenge of Farrell that should have earned a red. That ugly bit aside, Neal remains a solid utility option for this side, and my choice for the starting lineup until Pontius returns.
Nick DeLeon: 6.5
His drive and pace is really enticing - if Nick can just improve his decision making in the final third we could have a real player on our hands. Last night was a classic example of this, with plenty of strong running but also poor passing choices and deflating dispossessions. DeLeon is still a vital player for the attack with his ability to make defenders miss, but his impact could be that much better if he works on that final product.
The pass for Chris Rolfe's goal was sumptuous, and an ideal cap on another match of solid energy in the attacking third. Espindola isn't perfect, he's often guilty of dribbling the ball into cul-de-sac's too often, but his direct nature is welcome when the offense turns stagnant.
EJ started off well, combining with the midfield and his fellow attackers on the break, but faded badly toward the end of the game. He will ultimately be judged on scoring goals, and tonight he missed a couple of chances. The own goal was awesome, but I was concerned that, despite being five yards away, EJ made no attempt to attack the ball. An in-form EJ is all over that opportunity.
Chris Rolfe: 7
Not too shabby for a debut. Rolfe looked lively on the ball and obviously had that lovely finish to wrap up the game. The only concern I had was his occasional drifting out of the game, but I'll chalk that up to a little bit of understandable hesitancy, working out how to play with a new team.
Connor Doyle: 5
(Copy and paste rating from last match.)