D.C. United had to have anticipated seeing Sebastian Giovinco and Toronto FC in some manner or fashion Saturday night. While they dodged a bit of a bullet, there was still three more national team players on the TFC squad. Both teams had been playing a few games of late, so there was some rotation on both sides, even before an international break, but the Black-and-Red managed to steal a win at BMO field and further cementing their chances of a postseason berth.
So let's do the vote thing!
Bill Hamid: 8 | Community 8.4
Talked about his shot-stopping last game, and in this game acted the part, challenging the shooters earlier and more effectively (Armando Cooper and Mark Bloom being among the victims), and on the goal, tried to get Altidore outside as much as possible to no avail. In his last three games, he's given up 2 goals, one Saturday, and another to Julio Baptista the week before, and is very much in form.
Nick DeLeon: 7 | Community: 7.11
His most noted might at right back thus far, with 7 recoveries, 3 clearances, 2 interceptions, 2 tackles and a blocked shot. On the 'attack' side, 18 of 25 passing, 3 of 4 in the attacking third. Maybe Nick DeLeon will become a reliable option at right back, maybe not, but either way we may very well be seeing Sean Franklin's season ending early for the second straight year due to injury, just as a note.
Steve Birnbaum: 7.5 | Community: 7.16
Everyone is going to harken back to Jozy Altidore's treatment of Birnbaum on that goal and say Altidore channeled his Messi which is good, because Birnbaum got owned by Messi, right? Well, I hope they also acknowledge Altidore had 38 touches on the night, fewest of any TFC field starter (and the 2nd time Birnbaum did this in a week, the first being Cyle Larin), and Altidore had one fewer touch than...Steve Birnbaum. Birnbaum also had 6 recoveries, 6 interceptions, 5 clearances and a tackle, and won 3 of 5 aerials. He also was 16 of 25 passing and was the only other DCU player to record a shot on goal. That highlight can't, nor shouldn't, distract from an excellent week.
Bobby Boswell: 7 (Captain) | Community: 6.85
2 recoveries, 2 clearances, a blocked shot and interception, 16 of 21 passing, and it was the one pass that caused the turnover that led to that goal everyone's talking about. Shrugged it off and had a good performance, and relied on that guile I keep hearing about.
Luke Mishu: 7 | Community 5.98
Player rotation # 1, as Mishu stood in for Taylor Kemp. Only led the team in interceptions (8), tied with Birnbaum in clearances (5) and had 5 recoveries to go with that and 2 tackles. 21 of 30 passes, including 6 of 9 in the attacking third, and won an aerial to boot. Nice work as the spot starter.
Rob Vincent: 6.5 | Community: 6.64
41 of 53 passing and the 77.% accuracy was second amongst D.C. starters (which kinda summed up how DC's night was offensively) and 5 of 11 in the attacking third. Defensively, had 9 recoveries, 2 tackles, an interception and clearance. There is a minor quandary, as he picked up a yellow and could miss the finale against Orlando City SC, so get it out of your system AFTER the playoff spot is secure.
Lloyd Sam: 7.5 (off 64') | Community: 6.92
Assisted on the game-winner, but also connected on 15 of 25 passes, and was the only DC player to have a key pass on the night (Sam had 2). Had 9 recoveries, 2 tackles and 2 interceptions in a more active than expected night defensively. In his 12 DCU games, has 3 goals and 4 assists. In his 16 games for the New York Red Bulls this year, had a goal and 4 assists. Gift that keeps on giving.
Julian Buescher: 6 | Community: 6.15
In the second MLS start of his career (heck, his second MLS start in the last 6 weeks), had 26 of 38 passing, but 2 of 12 attacking third passes (basically his passes went to die once they crossed the midfield stripe). Defensively had 7 recoveries, 2 tackles, 2 clearances and an interception. Considering the midfield he faced he didn't look out of place, or more specifically didn't look chewed up there.
Luciano Acosta: 6.5 (off 89') | Community: 7.15
Had a couple of shots, but passing wise only had 19 of 24 and 3 of 6 in the attacking third. Had 6 recoveries, 2 tackles and 2 interceptions, and got a yellow late, putting him also in a spot where he would miss the OCSC game. A quiet night overall, which he has two weeks to rectify.
Lamar Neagle: 8.5 (MOTM) | Community: 8.8 (MOTM)
Scored the goals, had 3 shots overall (tied with Cooper for the lead on this), had 22 of 31 passing and 5 of 8 in the attacking third, won 4 of 6 aerials (more than Birnbaum!). Rung up 6 recoveries, 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 interceptions and a blocked shot. Supersub Lamar Neagle!
Patrick Mullins: 6 (off 67') | Community: 6.5
In a group that had done a lot of work over the last two weeks, may have been the leggiest. Lost all 4 aerial duels, 9 of 16 passing (4 of 8 in the attacking third), with 2 recoveries and 2 clearances defensively. Gets the chance to burn his home team, on his home field, when everyone comes back.
Patrick Nyarko: 6.5 (on 64') | Community: 6.4
His only pass was successful, defensively had 2 shots, a recovery and a blocked shot. Did what he needed to do.
Alvaro Saborio: 6 (on 67') | Community: 5.8
4 of 5 connected passes. Defensively had a clearance and lost all 4 aerial duels. Ditto Nyarko, except a little less notable.
Collin Martin: N/A (on 89') | Community: 5.6
You read that right, the guy who made his first MLS appearance in almost 2 years came on, had no touches. More, longer, please.
On 53 votes, Josimer was the runaway Man of the Match in your eyes:
Mark Geiger - Referee:
Geiger was given a score of 5.92 from 53 votes.
A word before some final thoughts: in case you feel like reading what this nerd said 9 hours before kickoff Saturday night. Got it? OK.
With that out of the way, there are a couple of things to be said for Saturday's win. When your creative engine stalls, your main offensive weapon is disarmed, and you've won 1 road game out of your last 20 (DC was 1-9-9 before this), strange things can occur. They did, in DC's favor, to take a huge 3 points Saturday night. There were a lot of fun boxes to tick off during the course of that game; D.C.'s run of two or more goals continued, both on the road (3) and overall (7), to go with an impressive longer term run (10 of 11). TFC's Fortress showed even further cracks; DC handed them their second loss in 13 games since the Copa America Centenario ended, a 13-game run where they've shut out their opponent six times.
But perhaps, more importantly, is the experience of winning such a game that served as an educational experience for those on the roster. At the time of the final whistle, D.C. had two homegrowns (Hamid, Martin), 3 draft picks (Birnbaum, DeLeon, Buescher) and 3 undrafted free agents (Boswell, Vincent, Mishu) on the field. This isn't to say that years from now, we're going to look back on the fact that those on the field or those rooting for them are going to recall things like this. But if there's any indication of long-term planning being made by Ben Olsen and Dave Kasper, games like these with a number of these players still around, helping with those coming through the ranks, will prove to be important for similar situations down the road. Games like this are fortunate because they both serve as rallying points in the short-term for those who are here and can serve as tangible points for those still here 20ish months down the road, for others that can emulate the example and pull out similar results.
The point being sure, getting an important result now is nice, but I really hope to see how this plays out in the 'then,' too.