Even good times play bad games sometimes. Its just a fact of life in professional sports. It takes a really good team though to play a bad game and still win. How did D.C. United win? Yeah, sure, luck played a role. But luck didn't dictate Bill Hamid making save after save to keep the Philadelphia Union off the board. His decision-making was once again phenomenal, and his one-on-one stopping ability was really on display. This was Hamid's third clean sheet in just seven matches. Man of the match, without question.
Hamid didn't just earn the three points by himself though. Someone had to create a goal for United to manage the win. That someone was Branko Boskovic, as the Montenegran now has assists in three straight MLS games, and that's not even counting the Legend Of Bodkin against the Kickers in the Open Cup. Boskovic was able to establish a rhythm for United, which was something that the team was unable to do for the first 70 minutes of the match. And his free kick was just sensational. It was almost as if United adopted a strategy of looking for fouls in the attacking half once Boskovic was sent on. If so, that strategy was successful.
Chris Pontius didn't have his best game for United. He only scored one goal, not three. He did well to beat his man on the Boskovic free kick and finish the ball simply into the net without any hesitation. But Pontius' touch and positioning failed him multiple times during the first half as he continues his transition to forward. He's scored six goals in eight matches since he was first inserted as a forward in the road win against the New England Revolution. Fans of Pontius may want to consider that fact before recommending that he moves back into the midfield.
Usually when United records a clean sheet, the defenders get a lot of credit for it in my player ratings. Not this time though. This time, all the credit belongs to Hamid. The central defenders Dejan Jakovic and Brandon McDonald each had their flaws in this match, flaws that Hamid was forced to overcome. McDonald was beaten by his man quite a few times, and Jakovic had one near disastrous turnover when he embarked on one of his usual aimless ventures into midfield. Similarly, Robbie Russell and Daniel Woolard watched far too many open crosses sail over their heads from the wings as the Union players were given the chance to run free.
The list of attacking players that turned in disappointing performances is long: Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar, Nick DeLeon, and Maicon Santos are all on it. Without the goal, Pontius would have been on it too. De Rosario in particular didn't appear to be on the same page as his teammates. If this was the first match you'd ever seen him play, I would have had a hard time convincing you that he was last season's league MVP. DeLeon and Najar failed to take advantage of the gaps that should have been available given Philadelphia's 4-3-3 formation while also making very little impact defensively. Meanwhile, Santos' role on this team is supposed to involve winning possession and holding the ball to allow the other attackers to make runs. None of that happened on Saturday night.
Good teams can have bad games. This was just a bad game for De Rosario, Najar, DeLeon, and Santos, right?