Have you ever wondered what the greatest sound in the world is? I think I figured it out.
It comes when your team is leading 1-0 and the clock reads 90:00 and all you can hear is D.C. United supporters singing in an otherwise quiet Red Bull Arena. We were fortunate enough to hear that greatest sound last night. Thanks fellas for making it happen.
United defeated the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on the road last night in a game they had no business winning. Stack United's half-rookie backline against the supposed best starting 11 in league history, and there's no comparison. Well the Red Bulls don't have the best starting 11 in league history, and last night, they didn't even have the best starting 11 on the field. We did.
Put this match in the context of the trade made between the two teams last month, and its clear who the winner of the trade was. Or is it? If I was handing out player ratings for both sides, I would have given Dax McCarty a 5 as well as Dwayne De Rosario. He was about the only player wearing white who fought until the end, and besides a masterful performance from Tim Ream, was the player United had the hardest time solving. It was nice seeing McCarty play well when used in a true CDM position.
But De Rosario did get the better of him once. And once was all we needed. The Red Bulls had opportunity upon opportunity, but couldn't put a single one past Bill Hamid. United had far fewer opportunities, but finished the best one they had. Most of New York's opportunities were low percentage shots from the outside. That's okay. It just means that United's defense did a good enough job of marking off any opportunities from closer in. And Hamid wasn't going to be beaten from range.
This was a great way to start off the second half of the season. It wasn't a dominating performance by any stretch of imagination, but United should now expect to compete with every single team in the league on the road. They did more than just compete last night. They evened the season series with the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Full recap here. Player ratings below.
Even though his impact wasn't very strong for long portions of the match, we always knew that De Rosario would make his presence felt before the end of this one. He dummied off McCarty to start the play, and then finished it off the post past Greg Sutton. It was one moment of magic in an otherwise magicless game from both offenses.
The entire defense deserves top marks for keeping the league's highest scoring attack off the board. They scored four goals against United earlier in the year, and they scored five against Toronto FC earlier in the week, but Hamid didn't care about that. Neither did Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Brandon McDonald, or Daniel Woolard. After giving up late goals each of the last two weeks, the defenders cut out every chance that the Red Bulls threw at them. White and McDonald in particular won every single header that entered Hamid's box. This is the kind of match that they can build upon.
For all the compliments that McCarty deserves for disrupting United's attack, he could still learn some things from Clyde Simms. The defensive midfielder for D.C. made things difficult for New York throughout the match. He was a big reason why the Red Bulls weren't getting any open looks outside of 30 yards from goal.
We went into this year counting United's wings as its greatest strength. Not in this game though. In this game the defense was the greatest strength, while Andy Najar and Chris Pontius were mostly pedestrian in the attack. They each contributed defensively when necessary, with Pontius doing much better against Jan Gunnar Solli than in their previous meeting, but couldn't provide the same offensive spark as De Rosario. It will be interesting seeing how the two adjust to having such a strong presence in the middle.
It may not have been D.C.'s best performance this season, but it was enough to grab three points on the road against one of the best teams in the league. United takes to the road again against one of the best teams in the league on Saturday, with a visit to FC Dallas. The two teams fought to a scoreless draw earlier in the year. United will need to match this defensive effort to do it again.