The first kick, first pitch, first installment of whatever your favorite sports may be is a prime opportunity to wonder that jeez, if your favorite team does/doesn't do this type of performance for the rest of the season that it could be a blessing, or an ominous foreboding like whatever snowmageddon may be occurring these days. With D.C. United and the Montreal Impact, not only was there this type of sample size judgment, but some salt to season it with, as both teams started their 2015 campaigns sooner than the other Major League Soccer franchises. Nevertheless, with a win to start the regular season off, it has to make for some good news, right?
Our Words (Steven Streff): "Just days after the disappointment of being knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, D.C. United quickly bounced back, defeating the Montreal Impact 1-0 at RFK Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Jairo Arrieta, an offseason pick up by the Black-and-Red, netted his second goal for United this season, after opening his account on Wednesday against Alajuelense."
Steven Goff (Washington Post): "In the first half, Arrieta mixed a high work rate and engagement with his teammates to bolster the evolving attack. Then in the 58th minute, he flashed into the clear, ran down Rolfe’s well-weighted pass and, with a nimble touch, pushed the ball past charging goalkeeper Evan Bush."
(MLS Soccer): "United nearly doubled up two minutes later on a combination between Arrieta and Pontius — Pontius chested the Costa Rican’s service down and struck it from seven-yards out, an effort that clanged off the underside of the crossbar, missing the goal line by inches."
Ben Olsen: "It was scrappy. The field played into it a lot more than people know. I thought the first half was good, and I knew at some point in the second half that would change just because of the energy level we were going to lack. You could see that hitting us around 60 minutes. We started to fade a little bit, which, you know, we had one day less rest than they did. I thought we weathered their stretch in the right way, but it was always going to be one of those games that we knew we’d have to gut it out in the end."
Frank Klopas (Impact Coach): "We tried to create 2v1 situations. To be fair I think we had some very good chances. It was unlucky because it was a soft goal. And you know a fairer result probably would have been a 0-0 game, but it’s a long season so… The effort of the guys was very good especially the guys who came in at the end and the subs who gave a lot of energy to the team. We pushed and we had some very good chances, but not every game is going to be like the Pachuca game."
After seeing Jairo Arrieta provide nice service to teammates in preseason, and score in the CONCACAF Champions League leg at RFK (mind you, this was after seeing a whole stadium essentially wish him dead when he went there two weeks ago), seeing him open his Major League Soccer account with D.C. United in the first game of the season seemed natural. Proper even. For a team that had not won its opener since 2011, seeing them get off on the proper foot regular season wise and have some time off to get bodies either back or close to it before seeing longtime foes in the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy is encouraging. That said...
The Last Word:
The last time we were here, we talked about how D.C. and Montreal would like show some signs of fatigue after seeing so much work so early, and we were happy to be the tiniest bit wrong when it came to predicting this game. But let us also realize something, in that not only the fatigue that we thought would happen did, but in large moments of the game before that 60 minute mark, the team looked like...a team missing their top three goal scorers from 2014 (Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva and Eddie Johnson), and the further most, if not all, of those absences linger, to borrow a term Olsen used, the 'scrappier' these games will be. Teams that are smarter and can rely on more that veteran savvy and scrappiness such as the Galaxy for instance, will be able to avoid being sucked into such forays.
If there is some good news to take from making a grandiose conclusion to the Eastern Conference after Week 1, it is that it still remains the Eastern Conference. As of this writing, D.C. United is one of two teams who took all three points this weekend in the East (Toronto FC being the other). Banking these points while missing so many key cast members will help, particularly as the schedule gets more and more congested with next year's CCL game (oh by the way lads, please don't screw it up this time) and US Open Cup competition. There is also the matter of remembering that it is not how you start, it is how you finish. And if there is one thing that this year's D.C. United should bear in mind, it is how so many of last year's D.C. United learned this lesson the hard way.