If you think about it, this result actually makes a lot of sense. DC United's starters at full fitness were able to admirably shut down Real Madrid's starters for the entire first half. But as our players grew more fatigued in the 95 degree heat, our defense was worn down by some of the world's best players. You could see this coming when Real Madrid turned to their bench to bring in substitutes like Arjen Robben and Christoph Metzelder, and United countered with Milos Kocic and Ely Allen. And once DC allowed Madrid to score their first, as has happened to our club before, the flood gates opened, the levees broke, the dam collapsed, and any other water related clichés you can think of.
Hopefully, DC United won over a few new fans yesterday. If our average attendance this season is somewhere in the range of 16-18 thousand, yet 72,368 showed up to see Real Madrid, it's easy to do the math here. I don't know that we're going to sell very many new season ticket packages to those 56,000 additional attendees, but maybe some of them wind up going to one or two DCU matches a year? It would have been nice to see United get a few more chances on goal. Zero shots on target in the first half doesn't make for an exciting match to the casual fan. And it's a bit of a shame that the most exciting moment for DC came from Christian Gomez scoring while clearly offside.
I'm with Goff when he says that player ratings are tough for this kind of match. I'm hesitant to give anyone a low rating after shutting out Madrid for 45 minutes, and no one really separated themselves from the pack in either direction. Therefore we're left with…
1. Josh Wicks, Greg Janicki, and Marc Burch were all strong candidates for Top Shelf at the halftime whistle. Wicks made two or three really good saves in the first half, before getting beat twice by Higuain in the second. Janicki's first half may have been his best of the season, but he failed to stop Higuain's run straight down the middle of the field for the first goal. Burch also looked good breaking up several plays in the first half, but was utterly abused by Robben in the second.
2. Hopefully this will be our last time seeing Rodney Wallace in Simms' CDM role for a little while. He was seen running behind the play in two out of the three goals. But he was tasked with keeping Kaka scoreless in the first half, and succeeded at that.
3. It's become customary for me to rate new acquisitions in their first appearances for United (see John, DiRaimondo, and Szetela). How about Ely Allen getting his first appearance in a DC jersey against Real Madrid? Allen had some positive touches and didn't look out of place on the field with the rest of our reserves. He also gets credit for being the leading candidate to win a Bryan Namoff lookalike contest.
So with this heavily promoted friendly behind them, DC United now has six days of rest before heading up to Toronto for an important league match. What's troubling is that this six day break is the longest break that our players will get until after the match on 9/15. The coaching staff will have some pretty tough decisions to make in weighing starters for the Toronto match, and then a long trip down to Marathon just three days later. I'm not going to go so far as to call TFC on Saturday a "must-win", but I think it might be a "must-not-lose" match. With them trailing us by only 1 point with 10 games remaining, we cannot let Toronto emerge with a full 3 points.