D.C. United played its best game of the season on Saturday night against one of the best teams in MLS. This wasn't just a matter of playing to the level of the competition. This was about real change happening. This was about our favorite team changing right before our very eyes.
Steven Goff (Washington Post): Ben Olsen began removing his most effective attackers midway through the second half of a tied match Saturday at RFK Stadium. They were not hurt and he was not upset with them. But with D.C. United’s playoff hopes long gone and priorities shifted to the U.S. Open Cup, Olsen started resting key players ahead of Wednesday’s tournament semifinal at Chicago. In doing so, Olsen risked yet another regular season defeat. Instead, the first substitute, Conor Doyle, responded with a 68th-minute goal and assisted on Jared Jeffrey’s late clincher in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Impact before 12,354.
Steve Davis (Pro Soccer Talk): "Saturday’s goal was [Silva's] third in three games. In the bigger picture, you wonder if we are seeing the proverbial changing of the guard at attacking midfielder around RFK Stadium? Silva is playing as the creator in a 4-4-1-1, behind Dwayne De Rosario, who just can’t get the hand brake released this year."
Thomas Floyd (Soccer By Ives): "When Doyle saw Riley setting up the left-footed service, the forward remembered what the coaching staff had preached to him earlier in the week and made a run to the near post, deftly directing a point-blank shot past Troy Perkins. On a team that has seen a rotating cast of characters audition up top and fall flat this season, the simple but effective finish was a welcome sight."
Ben Olsen (dcunited.com): "We were looking to get two things out of tonight: first was getting a winning mentality, so this [win] will help with that. We’re also looking to get a rhythm because – I don’t want to mention injuries – but DeRo and Luis hadn’t played together. Perry’s back in. We’re trying to get all these guys to log as many minutes together as possible, so it’s strange to say over halfway through the season that we’re still trying to find our rhythm and the way we want to play, but that’s the case"
Sofiane Benzaza (Mount Royal Soccer): "The leave RFK Stadium with 0 points, continuing the winless streak at home stadium. Jeb Brovsky scored his first career MLS goal but like he says, he would have taken all 3 points instead. has more questions than answers after leaving RFK."
- In a single match, Jeffrey and Doyle went from what we thought would be decent backups on a bad-to-mediocre team to important starters on a potentially good team. Doyle proved to be what United's been missing all season in a smart physical forward who can score, and was maybe our first really impactful substitution of the entire season. Jeffrey brought a high level of energy and aggression that's been lacking from John Thorrington and others who have been given an opportunity at the position.
- With Silva, Doyle, and Jeffrey all scoring goals, and Collin Martin setting up the third as well, it's clear that our Young American movement has brought new life to the club. If you're not sure who to vote as your Man Of The Match, you might want to give Dave Kasper some consideration.
- The whole match wasn't roses though, as United still showed some defensive deficiencies. On the Impact's goal, we once again saw United defenders employing my biggest pet peeve in all of soccer: raising your hand to signal offside instead of playing the game. Perhaps Olsen should teach his players that there isn't a rule requiring a player to signal offsides prior to the assistant referee raising his flag. If only it was the first time this had happened to us, Perry Kitchen's sins could have been forgiven. But its unacceptable to stand there raising your effing hand while an opponent runs right past you and scores. And let's not even think about blaming Dejan Jakovic for keeping Jeb Brovsky onside when Jakovic was just doing his job - closely marking Marco Di Vaio, a role he performed well all game, I might add, rendering the All-Star ineffective throughout the match.
The Last Word
Another idle win in a series of losses isn't much to get excited about. But if we had to pick any week to play our most important match of the season, wouldn't this be it?
I checked the weather forecast for Wednesday night in Bridgeview, IL on Wednesday night. Scattered thunderstorms.
More like sunny with a chance of redemption.