Fabian Espindola could have changed it all. 94 minutes of listless soccer would have been alleviated with a single penalty. Then came the paneka, the freaking paneka. I've never understood the world's general fascination with that type of penalty. Yes, I know United legend Jaime Moreno loved a good paneka now and then, but I've never seen the point of it. The best penalty-takers blast it to the corners, and if they send it down the middle it at least goes with some force. The paneka is a trick shot, reserved for blowouts and friendlies. Just stick it in the corner Fabian, instead you somehow surpassed Cesc Fabregas for worst penalty miss of the day. Here are your player ratings.
Bill Hamid: 8
Hamid bailed out the defense twice with superb saves on Bernardo Anor and Adam Bedell. United's defense this year is much improved, but it isn't water tight, meaning Hamid is going to have to continue making those types of saves to keep United in games.
Sean Franklin: 7
Whenever Franklin turns in a solid display during a defensive stalemate it leaves me impressed. Perhaps that's just a lazy stereotyping of his game as an attacking fullback, but it's crucial that he remains defensively responsible. United's attack currently looks incapable of big scorelines so the defense needs to remain as airtight as possible. Franklin still gets forward, as he should, but we're seeing much less lapses at the back than earlier in the season.
Bobby Boswell: 6.5
The defending was competent, but his distribution was horrid. United will rarely use a conventional possession tactic, so it's crucial that Boswell is able to at least give the strikers a chance to challenge for long balls. Too many times against the Crew Boswell gave away possession cheaply on a failed long ball.
Steve Birnbaum: 7.5
Pretty good, right? There were some rookie mistakes, but overall a very solid debut. The biggest highlight was the distribution. What Boswell lacked at times in possession Birnbaum made up for, especially in the first half. I don't think he'll be supplanting Ben Olsen's favored duo of Boswell and Jeff Parke, but Birnbaum's poise bodes well for future fixture congestion.
Your weekly random moment of Christian brilliance was his superb cross that Nick DeLeon somehow didn't score. Beyond that it was a pretty normal day at the office. Some good, some bad, but mainly a solid performance for the Spaniard.
Davy Arnaud: 8
Arnaud continues to amaze me. This week he transitioned seamlessly in Perry Kitchen's holding midfielder role, warding off attacks with the considerably frail defensive presence of Luis Silva ahead of him. The passing was good, and he provided that bit of nasty needed in the midfield.
Luis Silva: 4.5
Consistently battles with Nick DeLeon to be the most frustrating player in the squad. So much technical ability yet he refuses to put his stamp on the game for more then three minutes at a time. Against the Crew he was tasked with being the main creative hub in the attack, and he didn't do that. I love Silva's potential, but at this rate what he gives up on defense isn't worth what he puts out on offense.
Nick DeLeon: 4
It's generally the same review every week. He worked hard, had some nice touches at certain points, but ultimately did approximately nothing in the attack. The miss in the first half was deplorable, and continues his lack of confidence in front of goal.
Chris Rolfe: 5
Some nice touches but never got the linkup play going in attack. Rolfe is a good option to have on the left, but in some ways his ability to influence the game is lost on the wing. He's looked his best when partnered with Espindola up top, we should see a return to that.
Eddie Johnson: 4.5
Receives a bonus for at least appearing more active, but the final product is still blatantly not there. This is a counter attacking team, EJ is not a counter attacking player. It's painful to see your highest paid player stick out like a sore thumb on the offense, but that's the reality with EJ. I would love for him to show me differently, but this team is better with him off the field.
Fabian Espindola: 3
I already touched upon the penalty, but Espindola didn't look himself during the game. The season he's been having allows a free pass on a game or two like this, but let's hope it doesn't become a pattern.
Conor Doyle: 6
Not a bad performance from Doyle. He seemed more decisive than usual. The play to set up Jared Jeffrey's chance was notable. I still don't see Doyle as a legitimate starting option, but it's relieving to see him branch out from just holding the ball up in extra time.
Jared Jeffrey: 5.5
Jeffrey came on to provide some attacking energy but slotted into a pretty deep role. He played decently, the shot was a highlight of course, but ultimately didn't create too much going forward.
Lewis Neal: 5
I like Lewis Neal, but it's a damning indication of our bench depth when that's who we bring on to provide a spark late in games. Between Neal, Doyle, and Jeffrey we don't have a lot of game changers available. This is where a player like Michael Seaton could be useful, but it doesn't look like the coaching staff trust's him in MLS play yet.