Sometimes when you play a hot team on the road who is on a playoff run, you get destroyed. I think that's what many of us expected would happen last night.
Other times when you play a hot team on the road who is on a playoff run, they don't show up. That's what actually happened last night.
D.C. United shut out a Colorado Rapids team with two of best scorers in the league, and Troy Perkins didn't even have to do that much to make it happen, besides one point-blank save on Pablo Mastroeni. The Rapids could only muster three shots on target. That's something we're used to seeing in United's box score, not our opponents'.
Credit therefore goes to the backline that was missing this season's best defender Julius James due to yellow card accumulation, and last season's defensive MVP Clyde Simms due to injury. Nice job, lads.
The setup man on United's lone goal last night was of course Andy Najar. He's best known for creating chances for himself, but in this match, he was willing to just put the ball into the area where good things often happen. They did. And D.C. took the lead just moments before halftime.
For what it's worth Troy Perkins now has four shutouts this season, which is even with Louis Crayton's total from 2008, and just one short of Josh Wicks' total in 2009. So at least he's performed no worse than our other failed goalkeepers of seasons past.
Give Danny Allsopp some credit for finishing the opportunity that was in front of him to give D.C. the win. The guy manages to get a shot on target about one in every three chances, but he's now tied for the team lead in goals.
Pablo Hernandez performed well in this one, when he wasn't on the ground getting fouled. The United organization should continue to promote the fact that Hernandez gets kicked more than just about any other player in the league. Now if we could only do something with the free kick chances those fouls generate...
Defensively, Kurt Morsink deserves a nod for keeping the Rapids off the scoreboard, specifically with his clearance off the line in the first half. He moved the ball well in transition. In other words, he just wasn't his usual self. Dejan Jakovic also somehow managed to avoid making any costly mistakes. Big improvement. Getting his first start in central defense in over a year, Devon McTavish did his job just fine.
Of all our defenders, Jed Zayner made me the most nervous in this match. He lost his mark on Drew Moor on a corner kick, who really should have evened up the score.
It's worth pointing out that ever since D.C. United tied the record for most times being shut out in a season, they haven't been shut out once. They continue to strive to avoid setting all-time worst records.
The odds were long against them winning this match. The odds were probably long against them giving up fewer than three goals. But they did it. This team's still got some fight in it.