D.C. United came into Saturday's game with the Vancouver Whitecaps on a rough week: a member of the District Ultras had been banned for setting off a smoke device, and hours before kickoff it was learned one of its owners is part of a group that will be buying Premier League side Swansea City. Anxiety and nerves were diminished greatly because of a fun, downright giddy 4-0 win which sent very cold supporters of the Black-and-Red home happy.
How about we rate some players?
Travis Worra - 5.5
Didn't have a lot to do, only saving one shot, and was saved by Erik Hurtado's poor finishing a couple of times. Five starts so far, and two clean sheets, and was minutes away from a third last week. I was asked about Worra by the fine folks at the VWFC blog Eighty Six Forever and said at the least he should be supplanting Andrew Dykstra on the depth chart when all keepers are equal and healthy. He also got his birthday gift.
Taylor Kemp - 6
Dealt with Marco Bustos in the first half, then Kekuta Manneh in the second. Speaking of second, second in tackles (4) and clearances (5), and first in interceptions (5), with his 14 combined defensive actions being second to Birdbomb on the night. Offensively, three key passes despite a 68.2 PS%. Get a teensy bit better on the ball TK, and we're golden.
Bobby Boswell - 6
Defensively had two pair (two interceptions, two tackles), tied for the lead in clearances (7), won three aerials and was around the night on goal two. Decided to bump the score up a half point for the work, but the two forwards he was dealing with aren't necessarily speedsters in Masato Kudo and Blas Perez.
Steve Birnbaum - 7
Owned the other portion of the lead in clearances (7) and interceptions (5), to go along with 3 tackles (and a nice second half sequence where he stepped up and came into the Caps' attacking half) and 7 recoveries. Connected on 86.7% of his passes (second most accurate on D.C.) and had a couple shots too. Going to need this game from him next week.
Sean Franklin - 6
Had the diminutive Cristian Techera to deal with and did well, with 2 tackles, 3 interceptions, 5 clearances and 6 recoveries. Offensively, his connections with Sarvas were the most frequent of any passing combination, connected on 3 key passes and his 82.9 PS% was fourth best on the team. Kemp does defensive work on the sheets, and offensively lacks a little something. Franklin passes like a beast and is quiet on the defensive end. Two great tastes that can taste great together.
Lamar Neagle - 6
3 key passes, 83.3 PS% (including 17 of 19 in the attacking third), found Espindola and Kemp well, defensively led the team with four tackles. A quietly effective night.
Nick DeLeon - 6.5
43 of 47 passing, translating to a 91.5 PS% on the night (most accurate player on either side, and only player above 90%). 16 of 18 in the attacking third, fed Fabi for a nice chance in the second half, his forward run in the first opened up space for Nyarko to get his own pass to Fabi for a shot. Had two shots, both on target, had three tackles defensively. To borrow from the coach:
"Passes completed, ground covered, duels won, what else do you want from a number eight?"
Marcelo Sarvas - 6
When you saw him put a cross into the box in the first half you could sense he knew what he was going to do on the day. And what he did was lead the team in tackles (6), tie for the lead in interceptions (5), have a whopping 11 recoveries on defense. On offense, two shots, one on target, a key pass, 80.4 PS%, connecting on both crosses and 5 long balls. Hey there.
Patrick Nyarko - 5.5
Set up Fabi nicely for a chance, had two other key passes, had two shots, a PS% of 65, a tackle and an interception. A quiet-ish night for someone who had the fourth most touches on his team.
Fabian Espindola - 7
His goals weren't pretty, but he could have had one or two others that were, and more importantly learned to trust his teammates a little more. Besides, how many times in the last month had you seen Fabi run up to a ball that was out of his range, and having a closer teammate defer to him? How many times did you see it in this game?
One other thing: the Vancouver Whitecaps had 7 shots on the night, one on target. Fabi had 6 by himself, all on goal, the latter of which being a career high. Hopefully if/when Fabi sees these next two pictures, it will resonate. The top is last week's shot map against the San Jose Earthquakes, the bottom is what he did against Vancouver:
Chris Rolfe - 5.5
Someone had to channel Fabi's shot accuracy on the night and with 4 (1 on goal), it was Rolfe, who left me apopleptic when he had a shot at the top of the 'Caps box he took too long to set up. Had a 77% accuracy number, connected on his only cross and his only long ball, had a tackle for his trouble too.
Luciano Acosta (Sub) - 7
Came on for Rolfe in the 77th, made a great read that led to the pass on goal 3, and the pass he made on goal 4 was nice. 12 touches, 2 key passes, 2 shots (one on target), and his 2 assists now put him in the team lead(!) in two and a half games played. A small note of caution, even speaking as one of the #FreeLucho folks; I'm not sure how much stock to put in two assists in the last 5 minutes of a game where the 'Caps a) were still pressing for a goal only to b) give in, but I imagine that won't stop people from spinning their own narratives if/when Lucho doesn't start against Toronto FC. But putting this out for your consideration.
Alvaro Saborio (Sub) - 6.5
Came on for Espindola in the 79th, looked like he was 30 again with those passes Lucho was feeding him. Had another shot and a key pass as well. Most of the stuff I said about Lucho a minute ago? Picture me saying it here, only with more emphasis, about the 34-year old Saborio.
Rob Vincent (Sub) - 5
1 of 3 passing, had a tackle and an interception defensively. Eh.
Man of the Match
Hey Fabi, haven't seen you in awhile, stick around, K?