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The Second Sixth

This is the second in a recurring series where we look at the DC United season, five games at a time. Of course I failed already because I miscounted and should have written this one last week, so this post is through the Chivas match, and does not include the scoreless draw with RSL.

Results: 2-0-3. 11 GF, 9 GA

Standings: Tied with Toronto FC for first place in the Eastern Conference

Statistical Leaders: Santino Quaranta (1 goal, 5 assists), Jaime Moreno (3 goals, 1 assist), Rodney Wallace (2 goals, 2 assists), Chris Pontius (2 goals, 1 assist), Luciano Emilio (2 goals),

Most frequent lineup:

What we liked:

  • "Never say die" attitude - During these five games, DC scored five goals in the last five minutes, including two each in the matches against New York and Toronto.

  • Chris Pontius's versatility - Inspiring much debate over on the Fullback Files, Pontius saw time at forward, right wing, central attacking midfield, and central defensive midfield. And while it's not yet been determined where his best spot is, Pontius is a scoring threat from anywhere on the field.

  • The quiet emergence of the Phoenix - Santino Quaranta had five assists in five matches, and hardly anyone noticed. He's also shown some early season versatility, as Soehn moved him between the wings, CAM, and withdrawn forward positions.

What we didn't like:

  • Too many mistakes - There are a few players on this team (Wallace, Burch, Jakovic) who will continually play well for 88 minutes or so, but one quick lapse in judgement can lead to one quick goal.
  • The goalkeeping situation - Louis Crayton started three matches and Milos Kocic started two. I'm alright with having a healthy competition early in the season, but this needs to get figured out soon. We need a solid consistent #1 starter for the playoff stretch.
Defining moment: Chris Pontius's extra time goal to defeat the Red Bulls, just seconds after Emilio had tied the score. There wasn't a whole lot of skill to this goal, just a whole lot of hustle, from Pontius as well as Khumalo. This goal is a reflection of the excitement of the end of just about every match in this sixth of the season.

Overall impression: In the second sixth, DC United has shown an uncanny ability to come from behind late in games. And while that's admirable, and certainly exhilirating, it begs the question as to why they are so often in the situation where they need to come from behind. With one of the best offenses in the league, if the team is able to limit mistakes just a bit better, they are a legitimate championship contender. And those late game heroics could serve the team well in the playoffs.