D.C. United needed a last minute goal from Fabian Espindola to salvage a result last week against Columbus Crew SC. This week, with Espindola gone (traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps) and a Black-and-Red team with two last-minute lineup changes, facing a Toronto FC team featuring a goal-hungry Sebastian Giovinco and a returning Jozy Altidore, the result? Well, it wasn't pretty. So let's count up your votes and see the peaks and (mostly) valleys of the Black-and-Red performance:
Travis Worra - 4.5 | Community: 4.3
A last-minute start for an injured Bill Hamid, Worra looked hesitant on both Giovinco free kick goals, though did have a nice save early and...that's about it, really. Six saves on 10 shots faced, both career highs, and both matched Worra's previous two starts combined. Could have done better, but didn't.
Sean Franklin - 6 (Captain, MOTM) | Community: 5.6
Was the passer in three of the team's 10 most active passing combinations (Sam , Acosta , Jeffrey ), assisted on the goal, connected on 44 of 55 passes, including 14 of 19 in the attacking third. Defensively had three interceptions, a tackle, a clearance and seven recoveries. Was one of the few (the only) to avail themselves.
Steve Birnbaum - 5.5 | Community: 5.6
Won 3 aerials (but made little impact) and had a shot (right at Alex Bono), and his 81.6% was third in field players on the night, including 5 of 8 long balls. Defensively, five interceptions and two clearances, was a little slow to pick up on the second TFC goal, but more importantly, how exactly is he improving, and why should he leave, if he's not going to put the work in to improve his value?
Kofi Opare - 5.5 | Community: 5
Birnbaum had 38 passes, Opare had 20 (connecting on 15), had three clearances, two interceptions and a tackle. A fairly quiet night overall, which considering his recent history, may be considered as progress?
Taylor Kemp - 4.5 | Community: 4.9
Defensively, got picked on for the TFC second goal (as he should have been), had four interceptions, four recoveries and three clearances. Offensively, had two shots, made 11 of 24(!) crosses, but generally wasn't a threat most of the night.
Marcelo Sarvas - 5 (off 58') | Community: 5.2
Two shots, one target, a key pass, a 81.8% pass accuracy number, but at 48 touches is among his lows on the season. Defensively, had two tackles, three interceptions and five recoveries, but took a first half yellow card and wasn't really a factor at all the rest of the night.
Lloyd Sam - 5.5 (off 71') | Community: 6.2 (MOTM)
Another guy who comprised three of DCU's top 10 combinations (Franklin, Jeffrey, and Acosta), his only shot was on target, and had three key passes. Had a 77.8% accuracy number, tucked into the middle a little bit more. Defensively, had 4 recoveries, a tackle and interception, and provided the primary assist on the goal. A quiet night, but needs to up it a little.
Jared Jeffrey - 4.5 | Community: 3.8
Scored the goal, sure, even had a key pass, but committed five fouls, and did whatever he could to prevent Giovinco getting into the area (not in a good way), and had a first half card as well, thus neutering the midfield pairing with Sarvas. Defensively, three tackles, three interceptions and five recoveries. But Jared, booby, come on.
Luciano Acosta - 5.5 | Community: 5.9
First full 90? First full 90. Working from the back out, had 5 tackles and 5 recoveries. Offensively, two key passes, and was 35 of 49 passing. Of that number, 3 were in his own third of the field (16 of 26 attacking third, 16 of 20 middle third). Did what he could, but the supporting cast did him little favor.
Nick DeLeon - 5.5 | Community: 5
33 of 35 passing, with a key pass and two shots (one on target). In the middle, as an eight, is fine. On the outside, where some more chances should be created? Needs to dust off the cobwebs.
Alvaro Saborio - 4 (off 58') | Community: 4.2
Credited with no won aerials, two shots and an 81.8% accuracy, including a near-halftime sequence that should keep him parked on the bench for awhile, particularly in lieu of his replacement.
Lamar Neagle - 5 (on 58') | Community: 5
After missing the previous week, came on and had a shot and won an aerial and had two tackles, though 4 of 7 passing on small sample size.
Patrick Mullins - 5.5 (on 58') | Community: 5
Had about half (13) the touches in 30 minutes that Saborio had (28) in about an hour, and while he connected on only 4 of 9 passing, connected on a long ball and cross, with two key passes. Going to be better as he gets more integrated, though his place in this remains to be seen.
Patrick Nyarko - 5.5 (on 71') | Community: 5.4
8 of 10 passing, maybe should have picked up Giovinco and stopped the hat trick, but otherwise, hope he's ready to start.
Toronto FC MOTM:
Of 55 voters, well, HOW COULD THIS NOT BE UNANIMOUS? Well, you get the idea:
Speaking as one of two people amongst the masthead who called a TFC victory, albeit with a far more conservative, score, allow me to rephrase something I said about the game, which was that on a slowly declining scale, D.C. hasn't really earned the trust of sharing a result, save for a truly awful opponent, until such time that they prove otherwise. Having a goal-scored Giovinco at the peak of being due, and seeing him score two beautiful free kick goals? I can't be mad at that, nor could I really be aggrieved at TFC feeding Giovinco to secure the hat trick for prolonged stretches, before finally succeeding at it.
I even can't be mad that D.C. was still starting a mostly second choice group of players, or starting players in different positions. For as offensively starved as D.C. is at the moment, Neagle and Nyarko do represent a third of the team's offense, with the former presumably being in a position to start this week, and the latter being hopefully able to provide even more minutes against the Montreal Impact. Mullins provides some quickness that Saborio doesn't otherwise bring and he should be able to start shortly. With at least one of those three being ready to go, this will presumably push DeLeon back into the center of midfield, where he can work with Acosta and maintain the relationship with Sarvas, and more importantly, relegate Jeffrey to spot starting for Sarvas for his inevitable accumulation foul. The defense remains concerning. Or at the very least, discouraging, as it's hard to adjust for the future when your back pair of center back has been on the field for 7 goals in the last two games. And after a game where a team from Canada had one of its Designated Players hang a hat trick on them, D.C. United does the same thing this week, though it's against the Montreal Impact and Didier Drogba, who rang a hatty on the Philadelphia Union. In between Drogs and Ignacio Piatt, you have 20 goals, one more than what D.C. has scored as a team.
D.C. needs goals, but more than that, they need positive results, and fast, to even be considered for the post-season in the competitive parity Xanadu that is the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer. And if they get neither, what, exactly, is going to be done to rectify it?