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MLS stakes its claim

2-1 was probably a pretty fair result to this match, with all three goals being scored by substitutes. Dyachenko's goal was well-deserved from the run of play, and Niell's goal was probably a bit lucky for him to get the ball in that position, but it was great to see him finish to stop the Kpene comparisons.

But where were the goals in the first half? Was our offense too slow, or was Pachuca's defense too fast? Maybe a combination of both? Seems like every time we had a good opportunity developing, a Pachuca player would block our shot. That's a skill you don't see as often in the MLS. Pachuca's defensive positioning was excellent, and DC's finishing was not. I'm going to keep the player ratings mostly brief so we can get into bigger and broader things.

1. Gonzalo Peralta - United starts a match in the 3-5-2 formation for the first time in almost a year, and Peralta did very well to keep the group organized.

1. Devon McTavish - I thought he played well in all places on the field, dropping back in defense when one of the back three went forward, and almost had a fantastic assist to Emilio in the first half on a ball that was shot just wide of an open net.

1. Luciano Emilio - How's that for a smooth transition? Emilio didn't play a poor game, because he positioned himself well to get lots of opportunties. But for a target striker, he needs to put away those opportunities.

All in all, a fantastic soccer match. I could gripe about the officiating if I wanted to, but despite that, this game between two very talented and essentially evenly matched opponents might turn out to be better than any MLS game we see all year. Which makes the result even more frustrating and disappointing. I really wanted to see DC compete in the World Club Championship. I think we play an attractive brand of soccer, and I was hoping we'd be able to showcase that to the world. Just to show them how far we've come as a team and as a league. This United team has the potential to be the best since Etcheverry retired, but its sad that we won't get the opportunity again to prove that to the world until Champions League starts for us in February next year.

That's it. Now I guess I'll go begrudgingly root for Houston. And ponder a question to which we'll never know the answer: Would the 3-2 aggregate result have been the same had the teams played the first match a bit closer to sea level?