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The Third Sixth

This is the third in a recurring series where we look at the DC United season, five games at a time.

Results: 2-1-2. 8 GF, 6 GA

Standings: First place in the Eastern Conference

Statistical Leaders: Christian Gomez (2 goals), Jaime Moreno (2 goals), Fred(1 goal, 1 assists), Santino Quaranta (1 goal, 1 assist), Luciano Emilio (2 assists),

Most frequent lineup:

What we liked:

  • Goalkeeper controversy resolved - The only low point that I wrote about in both of my first two posts in this series is an issue no longer. Starting Josh Wicks ahead of Louis Crayton has earned us 4 points to date, and it's really nice to have a keeper that we can count on to come up big when we need him the most.

  • Rotating attackers - The biggest different so far between 2008 and 2009 is our wealth of attacking depth. Last year, if just one player was injured, we suffered major setbacks. But now, hearing the news that Moreno or Fred will be out for a couple weeks doesn't even seem to phase the United community. Because between Christian Gomez's surprising return to form and the versatility of Quaranta, Pontius, and Wallace, we've got plenty of players who can fill in without skipping a beat. This year, our bigger problem has been trying to find enough playing time for all these talented guys, which is a good problem to have.

  • Defensive progress - Bryan Namoff has consistently been one of the best and most underrated outside backs in MLS over the past several years. It's looking like you might be able to add Dejan Jakovic to that list also. He continues to fly under the radar, while emerging as one of the league's best center backs.

What we didn't like:

  • Stupid fouls - In reaction to the two penalty kicks we gave up in these five games, the team needs to be a bit more careful when defending in the box. Clearly the MLS officials have been directed to award penalties at the slightest hint of contact (reference Namoff on Twellman, and Jakovic on Nyarko), so we need to make sure that we don't give them any reason to think about calling fouls in the box.
Defining moment: Josh Wicks' penalty kick save on Brian McBride to preserve United's lead against Chicago and move back into our rightful position in first place. A major theme of this sixth of the season would have to be Wicks' heroics, including several spectacular saves and two clean sheets.

Overall impression: After the second sixth of the season when we finished tied for first place, it didn't really feel right. United wasn't playing like the best team in the Eastern Conference at that time. Now though, I think we deserve it. Closing out the first half of the season with a huge victory over Chicago and a tie at Seattle should provide the team with steady momentum as we head into a rough portion of the year that includes Open Cup and Champions League matches in addition to the regular season