If you'd told me before the season that D.C. United would earn five points in this stretch of three home games against playoff opponents from the Western Conference in the first third of the season, I'd have been satisfied.
Now if you told me that we'd earn five points, but that Steve Zakuani, David Ferreira, and Omar Cummings would all be out injured, I might be a little less than satisfied.
And that's about right. You know what else was about right? Tonight's final score. Neither United nor the Colorado Rapids played good enough to win, or bad enough to lose. And despite Terry Vaughn doing his best to steal the headlines, 1-1 was a fair result. It sure didn't help that United's top forwards - Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff - each had to depart with the injuries in the first half as well.
But we're still left wishing. Wishing for a few more points. Wishing we'd won at least one of the previous two winnable games. United has a 15-day break from MLS now to think about it.
Full report here. Player ratings below.
The most important player on the field for United tonight was undoubtedly Chris Pontius. He was active on the wing, and won and converted the penalty kick that turned out to be the tying goal for D.C. He also contributed defensively, breaking up a Colorado attack at the last second in the box by deflecting the ball to Bill Hamid. The goalkeeper also turned in a quality performance, and wasn't at all to blame on the Rapids' goal.
I wrote previously this week that it would make sense for United to use Stephen King in central midfield once again to improve on our possession and passing statistics. As it turned out, they didn't actually need him for that. The passing accuracy favored United 82% to 74%. Returning to the starting lineup in place of King, Clyde Simms had a good game defensively, and Dax McCarty was all over the field even more than usual.
For all his flaws, we should keep in mind that Joseph Ngwenya did all he could in his power to win a penalty kick, other than forcibly put a whistle in Vaughn's mouth and knee him in the gut to elicit a blowing a sound. Let's face it, even though the penalty wasn't called on the foul on Ngwenya, his run in the box to draw a take-down from Jeff Larentowicz won us the match. If not for that, Vaughn wouldn't have called a penalty on the Pontius tackle later.
They still haven't let in a goal from the run-of-play in their three matches together, but the back line let us down a bit tonight. On the Rapids' goal, Dejan Jakovic and Perry Kitchen were caught in a scrum with Larentowicz and Andre Akpan, causing the ball to apparently bounce off Jakovic's back, and fall to Drew Moor, who beat Ethan White to the ball and finished it. For what it's worth, Jakovic had a real good match other than that play. White didn't.
And with that, the home streak ends. After an international friendly against Dutch powerhouse Ajax next Sunday, United will return to action with its first road trip to Portland to take on the Timbers. We're all Timbers fans tonight in their derby against the Seattle Sounders. But they'll be our sworn enemies for the first time in their existence come the 29th of May.