D.C. United was coming into a RFK Stadium clash with Columbus Crew with a game that they should have won beforehand; the team was, is, buzzing, the Crew were without several players, including Federico Higuain, and the Crew were dealing on slightly shorter rest. The results started slow, but the Black-and-Red eventually overcame and rolled over the Crewzers en route to a 3-0 win and, combined with other midweek results, a firmer grasp on the final playoff position in the East.
And with that, on with the ratings!
Bill Hamid: 8 | Community 7.93
2 saves and 3 punch outs, leading to this first shutout in six weeks (and 8 games), but more importantly, his distribution was part luck (on goal 3) and part well struck balls downrange (on goal 2). He's probably had better shot-stopping nights, but he certainly had more confidence of his area and the players in front of him that I can recall in recent games.
Nick DeLeon: 6 | Community: 6.6
A virtual carbon copy of his work vs. Orlando City, completing 30 of 39 passes, and 7 of 11 in the attacking third. Had 2 tackles, 4 clearances and 6 recoveries on the defensive side. I mean, he's had 180 minutes at right back, and the only goal given up was on a set piece, and Ethan Finlay was generally meaningless most of the night. Spot duty before Sean Franklin presumably returns from injury over the break (hopefully?), and he tackled a variety of roles this year.
Steve Birnbaum: 7 | Community: 7.4
Continued the reign of 'Steve Birnbaum, offensive force' with a shot, but also connected on 17 of 23 passes. Had 4 interceptions, 6 clearances, a tackle, a blocked shot and a recovery, and accompanied it by winning all 5 of his aerial duels, though only 1 was in the attacking end. Solid night without the threatening aerial presence in the box (there were only 2 corner kicks after all).
Bobby Boswell: 7 (Captain) | Community: 6.85
His 28 of 38 passing was a hair behind Birdbomb as far as accuracy goes (73.9 vs. 73.7), albeit with more passing opportunities. Had 7 clearances, 2 tackles and 4 recoveries defensively, and kept everything in front of him for the most part, making for a quietly effective game.
Taylor Kemp: 7 | Community 7.1
Dealt with your Man of the Match for the night and did fine, with 3 interceptions, 2 clearances, 2 tackles, a blocked shot and 6 recoveries on the other side of the field. Offensively didn't have as much to do and didn't connect on as much of them (19 of 29 passes, 5 of 10 in the attacking third), though did have a key pass to go with a shot. He and NDL weren't in positions to do anything offensively, but did good on the back side.
Rob Vincent: 6.5 | Community: 6.16
29 of 35 passing (his 82.9% PA led all starters), virtually all of those were fed to the outside mid, and almost all of them occurred in the first two thirds of the field. Had a shot which was also on goal, so it's apparent he picks his spots with effectiveness, and knows what to do in this position. 6 recoveries, 3 clearances, 1 interception and 2 tackles, out of 6 attempted defensively on a good night for him.
Lloyd Sam: 7.5 (off 72') | Community: 7.46
A nice goal and read for the game winning effort, and a goal in two straight games to boot (3 goals and 3 assists since the trade, for what it's worth). Added that to 18 of 22 passing and 2 chance creators. Had 2 interceptions, a tackle and 4 recoveries on the other side, and appears to be the new Chris Rolfe at the moment.
Jared Jeffrey: 6 | Community: 6.2
Missed the last 4 games with a concussion, and definitely looked rusty to start things, but went 90, god bless him. Had a shot on goal, and passing-wise connected on 22 of 27. Had 3 tackles, 3 recoveries and an interception, and well, was nice to have back. He'll form will improve with more minutes though I'd presume he wouldn't go 90 today, would he?
Luciano Acosta: 7 (off 81') | Community: 7.85 (MOTM)
24 of 33 passing in this one (11 of 17 in the attacking third), including the assist to Sam and some nice movement with him and Nyarko. In fact since we're here, this looks fairly conciliatory and collaborative:
With 11 of these passes going to Nyarko and Sam, it's easy to see why. 3 recoveries, 2 tackles and 2 interceptions in his own end, in what you could also categorize as a 'quiet' night, but in a good way.
Patrick Nyarko: 8 (MOTM) | Community: 7.2
21 of 29 passing, including 9 of 15 in the attacking third. Had a shot on goal but assisted on the 2nd one, giving him 8 on the year, 1 away from his most in 5 years, has a goal and 6(!) assists in his last 6 games. Had 3 tackles, 4 interceptions, a clearance to go with 8 recoveries. Can he just wear the concussion helmet for precautions, so he doesn't miss any substantial time, ever?
Patrick Mullins: 6.5 (off 86') | Community: 6.74
3 shots, one on goal and while he didn't get on the scoresheet, I choose to think his off the ball run to get Corey Ashe to open up a little gave Sam the space he needed for his shot/goal. 3 of 7 aerial duels won, and generally was quiet otherwise.
Lamar Neagle: 8.5 (on 72') | Community: 7.9
Had a goal on his only shot, and connected on 9 of 10 passes, including the one that became the assist for the last goal. Has 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 appearances, the last 5 as substitute roles. Regained a share of the goalscoring lead, and is third in assists. Let's see if the fire keeps going (presumably) as a starter today.
Julian Buescher: 7 (on 81') | Community: 7.08
Fed Neagle for the goal, so now Buescher is also on the scoresheet for the second straight game, and connected on 5 of 7 passes overall on an otherwise OK appearance before a start on the weekend.
Alvaro Saborio: 6.5 (on 86') | Community: 7.2
SABO KLAXON! Scored the goal on his only shot, connected on 1 of 2 passes and...that's it.
Based on 67 compiled votes, Justin Meram was your Man of the Match for the Crew over Steve Clark:
Sorin Stoica Silvia Petrescu - Referee:
Petrescu was befitted a score of 5.9 from 65 votes.
With the Crew in the rear view and Toronto FC in front of them in T Dot today, you want to know what I expect from D.C. United today?
Not much, to be honest.
All you need to do is look at what D.C. did to the Chicago Fire a couple of weeks back. You remember that one, right? The six goals, the fun, the terrificness? Well, Chicago was playing their starters for the 3rd time in a week, and went down to 10 men early. So we got the six goals and the terrificness.
Now let's consider the context as it relates to the Black-and-Red. They head into this game, on their 4th game in 15 days and their 5th in 21. TFC are looking to regain the lead in the East; Sebastian Giovinco will likely get some sort of run. And while this will be the last game for D.C. for two full weeks (the next game is the regular season home finale with New York City FC) and the desire to run the boys out one more time for 90s all around is high to firm a playoff spot even more (their chances would rise to almost 97% per Inonit), there's really only so much adrenaline you can run on. So be prepared to see Jalen Robinson, Neagle, and Kennedy Igboananike, among others, with the latter even being paired with Saborio at forward maybe. You'll see Julian Buescher too. Heck, Alhaji Kamara and Collin Martin are off the injured list now too, so ANYTHING can happen.
There is a little bit of breathing room to be had, but if D.C. starts anything better than a second choice bunch, I think there's reason for surprise, albeit a pleasant one at that.