Some of us were unnaturally pleased with the scoreless draw that we watched on Saturday night. I was one of them. I have a tendency to ride emotional highs and lows with my team. Take whatever feeling I should reasonably be feeling and double it. And so when the emotion should be mere satisfaction, mere relief that D.C. United doesn't actually suck, instead I exhibit feelings of joy.
Those emotions subside quickly though. And so our new tradition of doing the player ratings two days after each match leads to some slightly lessened reactions.
But not when a player turns in the single best performance we've seen from a United player all year.
And that's what we saw from Emiliano Dudar on Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps. He was awesome, and he above all else that we saw gives me hope for a successful 2012. Dudar was winning challenges all over the defense, was great at picking his head up and distributing quickly and accurately up the field in transition, and was a clearance off the line away from getting a goal and three points off the rebound on the corner kick in the 67th minute.
Dudar was great. If he can continue on this form, he'll be the best defender United has had in years. But that shouldn't take anything away from the performance that Daniel Woolard gave for us. He locked down the left side and interloped into the Vancouver attack quite often.
The other big reason to be excited about what this team can do this year was on display for a short period of time Saturday night. When all three designated players were on the field together for about 20 minutes, we got a glimpse of the attacking potential in D.C.'s arsenal. Dwayne De Rosario was running at defenders, Hamdi Salihi was forcing brilliant saves from Joe Cannon, and Branko Boskovic was sending in perfect corner kicks. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that we'll see those three players in the starting lineup on Friday night. But I'll get into that thought more later this week.
Nick DeLeon and Danny Cruz each earned their first starts of the season on the wings, and brought forth some positive and some negative traits. Cruz was probably the most active player on the field, contributing on both sides of the field, but his runs were sometimes aimless, definitely not quite Najaresque. DeLeon showed the potential that we know he has, but he seemed half a step slow and was occasionally dispossessed.
Not only did Maicon Santos fail to contribute to the mission of creating goal-scoring opportunities, he wasted every chance that came his way. He dyachoked! He was ngwenying all over the field! And he could quickly find himself outside of the starting 11.