D.C. United came back home to Estadio RFK to face a Columbus Crew SC team who was reeling in their own right. The Crew rolled out a new formation, frustrated the Black-and-Red players and faithful en route to a 2-0 win which left D.C. winless and goalless.
So let’s make due with the scores, shall we?
Bill Hamid: 5.5 | Community: 5.62
4 saves made, and guessed right on the PKs even if he didn’t get them. Active and competent in net as we’ve grown accustomed to, but going to need to pull a save out of his behind in the next match or two if the backline continues their adventures.
Nick DeLeon: 5.5 | Community: 5.38
7 interceptions and 4 recoveries on the back end, 2 aerials won, 2 key passes, 2 shots on the front end to go with a 74% pass accuracy night, including 6 of 8 long balls. Speaking of activity, a good one for NDL, with 83 touches on the night. That’s good enough to tie for second on the team.
Sean Franklin: 5 | Community: 4.4
The other guy with 83 touches on the night, but 69 of them were passes, connecting at a 85% accuracy clip (8 of 14 long balls). 10 recoveries, 9 clearances, 4 interceptions and generally settled into his role a little more, encouraging but also he wasn’t picked on. I’ve seen people suggest the backline would be better with Bobby Boswell in either position, but Boswell tended (tends?) to primarily bang the ball downfield. Franklin tends to keep possession and play to the middle or upfield for Nyarko or Kemp. And I’m fine with that, along with the being more agile and slightly younger parts.
Steve Birnbaum: 4.5 | Community: 3.9
I guess you could go either way on the PKs awarded at Birnbaum’s expense, but I look at a guy fouling an experienced forward in the box and those things are going to happen. Had 4 clearances, 2 interceptions and a recovery defensively, won 4 aerials and had 74% pass accuracy, and was flat out bad in the attacking third as “Steve Birdbomb, target forward.
Taylor Kemp: 5 | Community: 4.55
Had 90 touches on the night, more than anyone on the field (by comparison, Federico Higuain had 79), and had 61 attempted passes, completing at a 72% accuracy rate, with one key pass. Had 2 tackles, 4 clearances and 8 recoveries but is generally not looking like the guy who had a January call-up at the moment.
Marcelo Sarvas: 4 | Community: 3.97
Was 57 of 64 on the night, including 15 of 21 long balls for an 89% pass accuracy number. 3 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 10 recoveries, and about a third of his action on the night was in the attacking half, which is a concern especially when you have competent offensive players in front of you. He was caught out of position more than once, yet again, and for a guy in a DM spot, just park yourself in the back half, particularly when your back four has proven to be a little shaky. Get it together fam.
Lloyd Sam (off 60’): 5 | Community: 4.2
25 of 29 passing with 2 key passes (lots of work inside to Harkes and Sarvas), defensively picked up seams for DeLeon’s move forwards, with 2 tackles, an interception and 11 recoveries, 10 of those from the midfield stripe back towards D.C.’s goal for the first 25 yards. Definitely improved his effort from the last couple of games.
Ian Harkes: 5.5 (MOTM) | Community: 5
35 of 41 passing, two more key passes (from corners), and his only shot was on target. Had 4 recoveries and 2 interceptions in his more natural two-way role, and is the most accurate passer thus far among anyone who's had a start, and tied for the number of total key passes with DeLeon, albeit in one less game. A bright spot amid the darkness.
Luciano Acosta (off 75’): 5.5 | Community: 6.25 (MOTM)
74% passing accuracy on only 35, though 2 were key passes and had 5 dribbles, 3 tackles and 6 recoveries before coming off to what appeared to be cramping. It’s going to be fun to watch him and Harkes work together, that’s for sure.
Patrick Nyarko: 5.5 | Community: 5.2
Least accurate passer at 59%, though 1 was a key pass, had 1 of the team’s 3 shots on target. Defensively, had 3 of 5 tackles, and 13 recoveries, 9 in his half, though even still had moments where he was beat. The paradox of doing a lot of work while still having work to do, such is life.
Patrick Mullins (off 28’): 5.5 | Community: 4.1
8 touches (3 shots, including a blocked one, and 2 of 3 successful passes) before pulling up early. Hopefully, this proves to not be accurate and we see him sooner than later.
Jose Ortiz (on 28’): 5.5 | Community: 4.3
Had 3 shots, 2 blocked, 1 saved, and connected on 8 of 9. Definitely has the workrate, but was keeping the ball for an added touch like everyone else. Will presumably come back from international duty ready to start if Mullins doesn’t come back?
Sebastien Le Toux (on 60’): 4.5 | Community: 4.2
Connected on 6 of 9 passes including a key pass and had a shot offensively, had 3 recoveries defensively. Meh.
Lamar Neagle (on 75’): 5 | Community: 4.3
Had a shot, connected on 4 of 5 passes and won 2 aerials. Pretty much expected for the time.
Columbus Crew MOTM:
Ola Kamara edges out Federico Higuain on 67 votes:
Ted Unkel - Referee:
I wonder why Unkel got a 3.02 on 67 votes...
I get why results like this are going to be discouraging, and to echo something Jason said on Filibuster, it was an odd game; D.C. controlling possession against the Crew doesn’t happen too often. Matt Doyle thought it was more for the boost of a result than anything else, but it also echoed to me of a game where D.C. went to the PNW and played the Vancouver Whitecaps, and used Michael Farfan as part of a lineup that saw them win 2-1. Part of it could be chalked up to a man advantage that day, but the echoes of a tactical ambush could certainly be felt a little bit after Saturday. How much film would Ben Olsen, or anyone else for that matter, have on a Crew team playing a 3-4-2-1? Lesson learned there.
That’s not to say the game should be ignored, because there are some questions left to ask about this team: a replacement for Marcelo Sarvas needs to be found before Chris Durkin takes the defensive midfielder reins. Sean Franklin’s apprenticeship as center back needs to pick up, as well as Steve Birnbaum’s as captain and backline organizer tasks. Jose Ortiz needs to step into Patrick Mullins’ shoes quickly and effectively.
Most importantly, who the heck is scoring goals on this club?