D.C. United returned back to RFK Stadium after a winless road jaunt through July and, like a lot of other times in 2016, had three or four changes from the previous game's lineup, which, considering the previous game's lineup saw them get thumped 4-1, this game, a 1-1 draw with a Montreal Impact side which featured Didier Drogba, Ignacio Piatti and Laurent Ciman to name several others, and dominate most of the action during it? Well, it was encouraging, but still felt disappointing.
But hey, you're not here for my prattling, let's see how you voted on the players from the game Saturday!
Bill Hamid - 7 | Community: 7.1
Returned to the starting role and didn't have a lot to do, and the goal he gave up came off a deflection from a substitute. Also, going to hope like hell the recall of DCU teammate Andrew Dykstra from the Richmond Kickers after one game of a three game loan is more precautionary than anything, because the only breaks this kid has been catching lately seem to be physical ones.
Sean Franklin - 6 | Community: 5.8
When Franklin works with a same sided mid who is fast of thought and/or of legs, the results seem to work, whether it's a new one this year or one from past years, as his connection to DeLeon was the most active (16) on the night, and comprised almost half of his completed passes (41). Added that to three tackles, three recoveries and two interceptions and a recent form of nice play.
Steve Birnbaum - 6 | Community: 6.4
5 aerials, 2 shots, 1 on target offensively. Like his center back partner, four clearances, two interceptions, two clearances and three recoveries. A minor brainfart in back early but his best effort back since his turn with the United States in Copa America Centenario action.
Bobby Boswell (Captain) - 6 | Community: 6.3
Out of the lineup last week to strep, and a bipolar night of weight loss and weight gain, only wound up completing 39 of 44 passes, and had four clearances, two interceptions, two clearances, a tackle and blocked shot. Nice work Robert.
Taylor Kemp - 6.5 | Community: 6.9
Defensively, two tackles, two clearances, two interceptions and three recoveries. Easily had his best effort offensively on the year, on the receiving end of the second and third most active combinations on the night, and on the delivery end of the fourth, with the work between him and Acosta accounting for two dozen successful passes.Three key passes (second on the night), 6 of 11 long balls, and the assist to Mullins. More of this, please.
Marcelo Sarvas - 6.5 | Community: 6.7
Had to deal with Piatti and Drogba, and got the latter sent off for losing his mind late. Connected on 56 of 65 passing wise, including 17 of 24 in the attacking third, with a key pass. Led the team in tackles (4), key passes (4) and recoveries (11) on a night where he was both helping the back four while staying slightly out on the side while Kemp, Nyarko and Acosta bombed on the left. Going to miss the game Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, so...boo.
Nick DeLeon - 6.5 | Community: 5.1
26 of 37 passing and 9 of 16 in the attacking third. Both off nights to be sure, but also had three shots (his most since the season opener) and one on target, and picked up with Franklin like it was 2014 all over or something. If Lloyd Sam can come back and DeLeon can retain some of this mojo in the middle, things could be cooking with gas.
Jared Jeffrey - 5.5 (off 56') | Community: 5.7
In between Sarvas' yellow and Jeffrey having to come off for a tweak, there may be a slight cause of concern all of a sudden heading into the game next week. Had two interceptions and a tackle, connected on 24 of 27 passing (and 8 of 10 in the attacking third), tied for the team lead in shots. Rebounded, but could use some work.
Luciano Acosta - 7 (MOTM) | Community: 7.2
His second full 90, and possibly his best performance thus far. Third on the team in touches on the night (85), two away from the team leader. Second on the team in passes on the night (57) behind Sarvas. Tied on the team in shots (3) and had 2 key passes. Defensively, 3 tackles and 10 recoveries, passing wise connected on 46 of 57, and 17 of 25 in the attacking third, with he and Mullins finding Nyarko and Kemp often. Pretty impressive night activity wise, but what I liked was him coming back to start a lot of chances, or help get teammates involved in them:
It's like you could sense he stopped looking over his shoulder to see if Fabi was going to come on.
Patrick Nyarko - 6 (off 64') | Community: 5
His first start in two and a half months because of injury, and connected on 16 of 22 passes, with 4 of them being chance creators. Had two tackles, and interception and a recovery. In terms of his activity chart, there are only two things (a pass and a clearance) that occurred in his own half:
So in sum, I like this, but this is going to need to result in more things, like celebrations.
Patrick Mullins - 7.5 (off 80') | Community: 7.5 (MOTM)
Scored the goal on a header, got some love for some off the ball work he did from Matt Doyle, tied for the team lead with five won aerials, had a key pass, was 18 of 23 on the night for those, including 8 of 11 in the attacking third. His most active passing targets? Nyarko (5) and Acosta (3). A young forward, working with and involving his teammates in numerous chances? What type of feeling is this?
Rob Vincent - 5.5 (on 56') | Community: 5.1
Coming on in what was eventually the longest sub appearance of his MLS career thus far, Vincent stayed on the right half of the field almost exclusively, connecting on 13 of 15 passing (including 2 of 3 long balls), and had two interceptions and one tackle defensively. Played a safe, mistake-free role on the night.
Kennedy Igboananike - 6 (on 64') | Community: 5.2
Acquired from the Chicago Fire Friday night, Igboananike connected on all five passes, and got Bush out of position and put a cross in for Mullins for a dangerous chance before the latter had to come out. He started 18 of the 19 games he was with the Fire this year, so I'd imagine at least a first-choice sub appearance or full-blown starting appearance this week.
Alvaro Saborio - 6.5 (on 80 ) | Community: 5.4
4 of 6 passing, and two shots in a brief amount of time, including one that rattled off the frame late that could have sealed the win. Sabo as sub? Satisfactory. Sabo as starter? Shoddy.
Of 86 voters, Ignacio Piatti was your Impact Man of the Match, by almost two to one over Evan Bush:
Two things struck me as I was watching the Black-and-Red play the Impact (missed it live because life happens), firstwas my general retrospective annoyance at the quote that Ben Olsen gave to Steve Goff at the beginning of the secondary transfer window, that the Black-and-Red has some money and are looking to spend it. That type of rhetoric, particularly when cast against a team that has not spent significant money since the days of Luciano Emilio and Dwayne De Rosario, is and should be a little bit reckless.
When one puts together the trade of former New York Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam to D.C. and the separate deals that sent Fabian Espindola to the Vancouver Whitecaps/Club Necaxa and brought in Mullins from New York City FC and Igboananike from the Chicago Fire, one could probably guesstimate that they probably relinquished somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000-$300,000 of general and targeted allocation money over these four deals, and, as we've talked about in the past, they probably have a bunch more to use. So as the aforementioned window closes today, while deals can still be done, having this kind of money out there, hanging out, well, it's something that Olsen and especially Dave Kasper should address.
There is one thing though, and it's something that Columbus Crew SC Chairman Anthony Precourt mentioned, even if it's something that Kasper won't:
We've been actively looking for a new DP. Ownership is willing, but can't just be a name and #. Player needs to make the XI better. #CrewSC— Anthony Precourt (@APrecourt) August 2, 2016
Precourt committed almost $1.5 million to Kamarae this year, giving Kei a Designated Player deal before trading him to the New England Revolution and signing Ola, all the while with Federico Higuain making almost $1.2 million. The $2.7 million in salary in those three players comprises almost 60 percent of D.C.'s salary bill. D.C. does want to get players that make the team better, but they remain in a position where doing what even say, the Crew can do, isn't being heeded, for reasons we've covered before.
All that said, we think there's maybe some sort of plan in place to turn things over. Consider game 1's lineup (particularly the front 5) against the LA Galaxy:
Stacked against last week's:
One could assert the midfielders and forwards have generally gotten quicker, smarter and a little younger and most positions, with a mix of finding the right positions for them, building chemistry or rediscovering it amongst teammates. And all around a guy who, in his first season away from Argentina in Lucho, seems to be getting his MLS legs under him, with even more of a ceiling to accomplish. With most of these players under contract it certainly appears like, well, SOMETHING is there.
If this is the direction that's being pursued, it's an intriguing one, given a little time and patience.