In a game that saw them rack up evidence that they were "dominating" when they really weren't, D.C. United fell behind after 59 seconds and never recovered en route to a 1-0 home loss to Toronto FC. Despite controlling most of the possession and generating plenty of chances - well, first half chances, anyway - United found TFC's defense either too organized or too acrobatic to equalize.
I'm subbing in for Ryan this week, so there may be some changes in how these numbers are handed out. Hopefully, this isn't too damaging for you:
Travis Worra - 4.5
Bit hard to his left post on the goal, taking himself out of the play as Sebastian Giovinco was given a tap-in. Didn't ever have much of a chance to redeem himself because TFC barely did anything going forward for the remaining 89 minutes. His reaction punch on a Michael Bradley free kick midway through the first half prevented a sure goal for Drew Moor.
Sean Franklin - 4.5
The goal starts with him stepping into no man's land, where he couldn't win the ball from Giovinco or obstruct Jozy Altidore from crossing. He did create a shooting chance for Nyarko by driving deep to the endline before cutting it back, and Jonathan Osorio had a quiet day, but ultimately the mistake looms over his performance.
Steve Birnbaum - 5
He's also partially culpable on the first goal. Having won position on Altidore, he ended up carelessly heading the ball to Giovinco. However, he did make up for it with interceptions and generally contributing to a game in which MLS's best player was largely kept quiet. Had a couple of headers on set pieces go wide, and he was a big distraction on what turned out to be United's nearest miss (Neagle's stab at a first half DeLeon throw-in).
Bobby Boswell - 3.5
On the goal, he seemed as concerned with Marky Delgado - who Kemp had covered - and the AR's flag than with Giovinco. He ended up losing the defending MVP, who scored the game's only goal. Lost Josh Williams on a set piece just before halftime, and later was about 20 yards behind the rest of the back four, which was where a stoppage time shot from Will Johnson stemmed from. DC's goal was not troubled often, so I won't go lower, but when it was the captain was involved just about every time.
Taylor Kemp - 4.5
Didn't have much to do, but on the goal he let Delgado get goal-side (which is how Delgado prodded the ball across the goalmouth for Giovinco). From there, he had a few successful crosses and otherwise kept Delgado and Beitashour from doing much at all. However, he was too often restricted to deep crosses, and when he did get further up the field his crosses were easily defended.
Patrick Nyarko - 7
Much of what United did right on the day came via Nyarko, who spent plenty of time on the left after starting the match on the right. 5 key passes, had a couple of shots stopped by desperate blocks from TFC defenders (and on one of those, he may have been dragged down inside the box while shooting). This Ben Olsen quote about him left me puzzled:
"He was going to come off anyway. Toronto did a good job on Patrick. Patrick’s a guy that’s having success for us and teams are seeing that, and they’re getting numbers over there and doubling and sometimes getting a third guy on him. And he’s got to move the ball quicker and now move off the ball as teams start to do that."
In my book, he did a good job on those fronts. He was also robbed by Clint Irwin after Neagle teed him up around the half-hour mark. Hopefully that last cheap shot - not the only one TFC got away with - didn't result in an injury.
Marcelo Sarvas - 6
Numbers-wise, this looks like a really strong game from Sarvas. 85.4% passing accuracy is hard to do when you attempt 89 passes. He had 2 key passes (including a nice through ball that Nyarko nearly scored from in the 7th minute), and he had more tackles than any Black-and-Red player. So why not a more favorable rating? United's attack dragged as the game wore on, and the pattern Sarvas was setting - exchange passes until the ball can be pushed to a wide player, preferably in space - got very predictable. I'd have preferred to see him change things up as it got progressively obvious that TFC was comfortable with how things were going. Lastly, that avoidable yellow in the 89th minute means he'll get a suspension if he picks up a booking in any of the next three outings.
Nick DeLeon - 5.5
Similar to Sarvas, though he was less involved overall (particularly defensively). However, I don't want to dock him too much, as any attempts from United's central duo to make something happen through the middle in the second half seemed to be his idea. 3 key passes, and he connected on 39 of his attempted 43 passes. On another day this is probably worth more, but we're talking about a situation where TFC conceded the central midfield region in order to not be broken down deeper, so the numbers can be deceptive.
Lamar Neagle - 6
There are two chances that were arguably United's best, and he was involved with both (the Nyarko shot that Irwin did so well to save, and that near-post shot from a long throw-in that Neagle nearly forced in). Ended up with 4 interceptions, and helped contain TFC's more dangerous wide man Osorio. 0 for 4 on attempts to dribble past his man, but in this game I'd have liked to see a) more attempts and b) attempts further up the field. Nonetheless, a respectable outing.
Chris Rolfe - 3.5
It's very rare to see Rolfe finish a game with 0 key passes for United, but that's exactly what happened. If he's going to take up the second forward role over Lucho Acosta, that can't happen. Attempted 4 shots, but none were on goal and 3 were from over 25 yards out. He just wasn't a factor in a game where TFC was openly challenging United's creators to solve a difficult puzzle.
Fabian Espindola - 4.5
Espindola was more involved than Rolfe, but in some cases that was not great news. He attempted 7 take-ons, but was stopped every single time. 2 key passes were nice, and 2 of his 3 shot attempts were not simply him ignoring everyone to have a go. He was busy, and did a reasonable job of keeping the ball while taking some risks. It's just that the risks didn't come off, and TFC seemed pretty comfortable with dealing with him by stepping early and being in his face.
Alvaro Saborio (Sub) - 2.5
What's that they say about a picture being worth some words? Well, here's a picture:
Aw hell, I can't help myself. Sabo was brought in to change how United plays; he and Rolfe are very different players. Sabo just didn't involve himself much at all, which didn't allow United to use him to change how they played. The only bit of physical play he managed was bravely going up for a Kemp cross that Irwin punched away. Such a letdown after last week's hungry, alert performance.
Luciano Acosta (Sub) - 4.5
Lucho definitely came in with urgency and an interest in changing the game, but it was immediately clear that he struggled with the unusual left midfield role handed to him. The angles he's used to seeing weren't there, and while he didn't miss a ton of passes - only 5 of 20 - the ones he missed were pretty jarringly missed, and all of them were the result of a player forcing things that weren't there. Still, we should give a nod to that level of involvement (nearly a pass per minute played), and his ability to dance out of a 1v3 to keep play moving - even after
dirtbag class act Will Johnson threw a hand right into his throat - was nice. Of course, that came after he was moved into the middle...
Man of the Match
Pretty clearly Nyarko, who was the only player that seemed to consistently give TFC fits on the ball. Against a bunkering opponent, he set up plenty of chances and was robbed when he went for goal himself.