After an abysmal performance in their last road outing, D.C. United had no fewer than four lineup changes from the loss to the Philadelphia Union to this week's 1-1 draw against Columbus Crew SC. But it did take a red card on a Crew defender and a last-minute goal to salvage the result
Bill Hamid - 6.5 | Community: 7.1
Couldn't really do anything with the goal he let in, and generally covered his area well, making a Cedric Mabwati counter hard to convert on. Also, this random note:
Bill was fine, he just wasn't a worldbeater per se.
Sean Franklin - 7 | Community: 6.9
Nice combination play with Sam that led to a shot for him, but linked up with him on several occasions (and they were the most effective combination amongst any players on the day), but converted on 37 of 48 passing (77.1%) on the day, and almost half (13 of 20, 65%) in the attacking third. Two tackles, two clearances and six recoveries defensively. Going to massively overanalyze a small sample size and say if Sean Franklin continues to do this, good things should happen:
Steve Birnbaum - 6 | Community: 6.6
The newly minted MLS All-Star had a somewhat rough outing. Slept on the play that allowed Ola Kamara to come in and score the Crew goal, but did lead field players in interceptions (6) and won almost as many aerials (7) as the Crew (8) on the night, and headed Sarvas' cross into the area that resulted in the goal. A definite improvement from last week, but room for improvement.
Bobby Boswell (Captain) - 6.5 | Community: 5.7
Let Mabwati run by him and almost was on the hook for it, but also had three interceptions, three clearances, three recoveries and two tackles. Oh, and was second on the team on shots (3), and had one on target. I'll restate, Bobby Boswell had more shots on goal than Ola Kamara. If he and Sabo could finish, this game might not have been such the white-knuckled affair.
Taylor Kemp - 5.5 | Community: 5.97
A tackle, an interception, two clearances and four recoveries defensively. Offensively, had a shot, a key pass, 71.9% PA, which was second worst among field players, and was 2 of 8 in the attacking third. Really starting to hope that he's not turning into Marc Burch before our eyes.
Marcelo Sarvas - 7 | Community: 5.93
Sarvas fed the hot hand offensively to a degree with 12 completed passes to Franklin. Had 45 of 55 passing wise (81.8%) and 16 of 21 (76%) in the attacking third, sent the cross in that led to the goal (accurate on 2 of 3 of those on the night), was 2nd best on key passes for the team (3). Three tackles, two interceptions and seven recoveries defensively, and may or may not get a call about that stamp on Harrison Afful that was after Afful's red? Still, was all over the field, or at least got the ball to people who were.
Lloyd Sam - 7 (MOTM) | Community: 7.3 (MOTM)
In for Lamar Neagle, who suffered an injury and did not make the trip. Won't restate the information about Franklin, but will add Sam had 5 key passes (took 8 corners), was 28 of 37 (75.7%) for accuracy and 7 of 14 on crosses, 11 of 17 in the attacking third, had a shot to fill everything out. Had 2 tackles and 6 clearances defensively, and impressed all around (almost got himself in trouble for hands to the face of Tony Tchani though), while staying almost exclusively on the right side of the field. When he starts to interchange with people, things should only get better.
Jared Jeffrey - 5.5 (off 77') | Community: 5.1
Served as reinforcement and dropped back with Sarvas came up, was 17 of 22 (77.3%) passing, including 3 of 5 in the attacking third. Wil Trapp got in his grill because he committed a foul, which was adorable, but also Jeffrey was sending the message that such silliness wouldn't be tolerated on his teammates. Had two tackles, an interception and a clearance defensively, didn't seem like a liability on the night.
Luciano Acosta - 6 (off 81') | Community: 6.8
1 shot (which was on target), 2 key passes, one of which would have been an assist if SOMEONE didn't show his age. 7 of 8 take-ons won, meaning if he went at a Crew defender, he usually beat them. 18 of 25 passing, including 8 of 13 in the attacking third. Nice night on the whole.
Nick DeLeon - 6 | Community: 5.2
On the left this time after being in the center last week, finished 21 of 24 passing (87.5%), including 7 of 8 and a key pass in the attacking third, to go with a shot. Wanted to lay off to Sabo with said key pass, which I get, but it's still Sabo, so take the shot Nick. And Happy Birthday, since we're here.
Alvaro Saborio - 5 (off 71') | Community: 4.8
Led the team in shots (4) and shots on target (2), won 4 aerials, (more than any other Crew player) connected on 10 of 15 passing. You'd think, with those numbers, that Sabo was more threatening than he was. If you ever wanted to see how a game with a target forward who doesn't score is like, well, this was your chance.
Alhaji Kamara - 5.5 (on 71') | Community: 5.1
In 20ish minutes, Kamara had a shot, won two aerials, and connected on 3 of 4 passing. His muff of Birnbaum's header led to the goal so, yay? Would like to see him get starts in this lineup soon.
Patrick Nyarko - 5.5 (on 77') | Community: 5.7
His first action in almost two months, Nyarko connected on both passes and had a shot. I'm going to presume that a) he's OK after this and b) he's going to be brought back slowly into the lineup, but his place in whatever the final lineup is going to be should be interesting.
Fabian Espindola - 7 (on 81') | Community: 6.6
Right place, right time on the goal, let's be honest. Connected on his two passes, and that was his night.
Columbus Crew MOTM:
Of the 33 voters, Ola Kamara was far and away your Man of the Match for the Crew:
I guess there is just a natural disconnect when it comes from what I saw compared to what others did. The case that Columbus held the overwhelming majority of possession and made 100 more passes than D.C., in a vacuum, sure seems convincing, until you look even further at things, starting with this:
Going further, D.C. attempted virtually the same number of attacking half passes as the Crew (221 to 223) and in the final third (120 to 113). They had 13 corner kicks to Columbus' 2 and connected successfully on more crosses (12) than the Crew tried (8).
Don't take my word for it, let's look at a couple more things:
One looks like where the keeper stood on his head, the other was one were not a lot of chances happened. Then when you realize the top one is D.C.'s passing chart and the bottom is the Crew's, you realize that Ben Olsen and group were perfectly content to let the Crew do whatever they wanted in their end, but once they got to 25-30 yards out, they got bupkis, and the charts illustrate it. Moreover, this was a game that, in a weird way, was right in D.C.'s wheelhouse; absorb the attack, counter effectively and with numbers and occasionally put pressure on the team trying to build from the back. The difference is, compared to past years, they had the creative players in place to make such an attack potentially lethal.
I say potentially because we're back to Alvaro Saborio again. We're getting, perhaps even at the point where starting Saborio may become a liability. He has scored one goal (against the New York Red Bulls in May), over his last 12 starts, a span of 945 minutes. He's been scoring in substitute roles, it's those goals against stretched defenses that his saving his proverbial bacon right now. And two weeks into the secondary transfer window for MLS being open, save for an offer to a winger that was learned to be dated, the silence from Dave Kasper and Ben Olsen is telling. A better (heck, another) forward would have converted some of these chances, thus making Espindola's last minute goal to rescue a point a needless exercise.
D.C. most certainly deserved a point from their game Saturday with the Columbus Crew. What they need is someone that will make the opposition pay with all these chances and thus, not make games like this such an exercise in jaw clenching.