In recent wins over the Montreal Impact in MLS action and the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, D.C. United used every weapon at its disposal. United used its current best 11 in both matches, with somewhat surprisingly successful results.
With the exception of Bill Hamid returning in place of Joe Willis, each change that United made to its lineup on Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union was intentionally designed to get a younger less experienced player more time on the field. And it showed, to the tune of a 2-0 loss.
- Ben Olsen (dcunited.com): We knew it was going to be a tough task tonight, we were hoping for a bounce to go our way and to come out of here with some kind of result. They were good on the day, we almost leveled it at 1-1 our hope was to get that back and hold but they made a big play clearing that off the line. It’s a learning experience for a lot of people out there, a lot of guys"
- Michael Seaton (dcunited.com): "Before the game I got booed and I guess that always happens. You just have to tune them out and play your game. Five minutes into the game I was alright I didn’t listen to them, I was listening to my teammates whatever they were telling me to do and I was fine."
- Pablo Maurer (Soccer By Ives): "D.C.’s locker room is rapidly becoming the youngest in MLS, part of an effort to rebuild the franchise as it struggles to keep its head above water. Some veterans remain, however, and Martin was quick to note after Saturday’s match that players like De Rosario and John Thorrington have been eager to impart some wisdom on their young teammate. "Yeah, it’s pretty simple what they’ve said to me," said Martin in a hushed post-game locker room. "Do what you’ve been doing the past couple weeks in training and just have fun – in the end that’s why you play the game, to have fun and just basically work hard. If you work hard then good things are going to happen."
- Steven Goff (Washington Post): "Ben Olsen fielded a D.C. United lineup that averaged 22.6 years old. Pull James Riley, 30, from the starting group, and the average drops to 21.9. When Dwayne De Rosario entered at halftime for Kyle Porter, the figure soared to 23.7. Later, Michael Seaton, 17, replaced Collin Martin, 18. Their combined age equals DeRo’s."
- Justin F. (Brotherly Game): "The two from Casey wound up being the only two of the match. And while McInerney will probably be frustrated himself for not scoring again as there were clearly moments in the match he was trying too hard, ultimately he and the Union will be satisfied at their 2-0 victory and climbing up to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference."
- For some strange reason, the conversation amongst MLS analysts heading into this match was that United might actually be the favorite heading into this match. This conversation would ignore the facts that the Union are well in playoff position, that D.C. has only three wins in league play, and that the game was being held in Philadelphia. Also that United would be starting three players and one substitute with fewer than three previous MLS starts. This game served as a reminder that we're still a last place team.
- It was also a reminder that a guy who played only three matches for a English Championship club last year and had no professional goals prior to last week probably isn't going to set scoring records in MLS. Conor Doyle might be a nice piece, but it's not like we should be counting on him for a goal and an assist every week. He was at best the fourth most impressive attacker on the field, behind Conor Casey, Sebastien Le Toux, and Jack McInerney. And he certainly can't do it alone.
- Do you guys remember the early months of this season when there was just one young player on the roster who was living up to our expectations and showing lots of potential? His name was Kyle Porter. And yet, against the Union, it seemed as if Porter was the only guy not living up to expectations or showing much future potential. I'm not sure if that says more about Porter or more about the rest of the team.
The Last Word
This was definitely United's B team. This was Ben Olsen giving a rest to many of his starters - guys like Dejan Jakovic, Luis Silva, and Chris Pontius. I'd expect an above average team like the Union to beat any MLS side's B team. United is no different. And that's fine.
Losing this match isn't something we need to be concerned about. It shouldn't change our opinion of this team. Although I'm not sure last week's win over Montreal really should either.
Here's the question though... If the Philadelphia match was our B team and the Montreal match was our A team, which team do we want to see for the rest of the season? Do we want to see guys like Jakovic who give us the best chance to win? Or do we want to see guys like Conor Shanosky continue to earn more minutes in hopes of reaching his potential just a bit sooner?