Other than the season opener against Sporting Kansas City, which we'll continue to write off as part of Ben Olsen's extended preseason, Maicon Santos has only appeared twice for D.C. United as a substitute off the bench. Once in the draw at home against the Montreal Impact, and then again in Saturday night's 3-2 win over the New England Revolution. Santos scored both times. His energy of the bench is almost solely responsible for three United points. Bringing a big hard-working forward into a the late stages of a close match against a tired defense has worked twice for United, and there's no reason to believe that it won't work again. That's why I'm starting to believe that our preferred starting forward pairing after the summer break won't include Santos, but not because he isn't worthy of a starting job. Just because he's so effing good off the bench.
Dwayne De Rosario and Branko Boskovic each finished the match with an assist from the central attacking midfield position. Boskovic's service from set pieces continues to be among the best in the league, while De Rosario always seems to have a great read on where his teammates are going to be in transition, and now leads the league with eight assists in 2012. His give-and-go with Santos shows how the two still have chemistry dating back to their days together at Toronto FC, but perhaps the most impressive play of the game was the bend on Boskovic's free kick so it would enter the box at an angle rather than straight on.
The second-longest tenured member of D.C. United is Dejan Jakovic, but he had yet to score a goal in MLS. That changed on Saturday night as he cleaned up a scrum in front of the Revolution goal. The Revs should have cleared it, but Jakovic kept fighting, and it may not have been pretty, but it was a goal that he rightfully earned.
I'm not going to pretend that Bill Hamid didn't have a great game. But I'm not going to ignore the fact that he gave up two goals either, after going seven-straight games allowing only one goal or less. Hamid could have done better to punch Benny Feilhaber's shot out of the area rather than right into the path of the unmarked Saer Sene, but Hamid didn't really have a chance on the goal from A.J. Soares. The young goalkeeper did make three very big plays in this game though: reflexively closing the five-hole when Sene was through on goal in the first half, charging out and knocking the ball away from Sene when the Revolution had a chance to get their third goal in the first 11 minutes of the second half (and not taking out the player as we've seen him do in previous years), and of course the late tip to preserve the lead that should be a Save Of The Week nominee.
The United defense was in danger of letting the game get out of hand early in the second half, and one play with two D.C. mistakes was the catalyst. One of the trademarks of Olsen's United is allowing one of the fullbacks to move up into the attack when the team has possession. On this particular play, it was Chris Korb who advanced into the midfield. Unfortunately, one of the other trademarks of the 2012 United team is Brandon McDonald kicking long balls inaccurately up the field rather than keeping possession by continuing to cycle the ball around the back. McDonald's failed service led to a turnover, a quick Revolution attack, a good save by Hamid, and then a rebound finish by Sene. Surely Olsen lit into McDonald for his decision to give away possession so easily, and lit into Korb even harder for not sprinting back to cover after the turnover. McDonald also kept Sene onside on the rebound, but did a great job scoring his first goal of the season earlier in the match. His flicked header over Matt Reis and under the bar was quite nice.