When we rolled out the ratings for last week's game that D.C. United had with the Montreal Impact, we said two things. The first one we'll get to in a minute, but the second one being that a win over the Chicago Fire was kind of important. Well, a hat trick and six goals later, one couldn't accuse the Black-and-Red of not handling their business I guess, right?
So we'll see just how high votes got from you, shall we?
Bill Hamid: 7 | Community 5.9
Didn't cover himself in glory on the first goal, and couldn't really do much about the second. Came out to challenge Accam in the second half so his head was definitely still in the game, so there hasn't been any notable regression to the pre-Impact performances.
Sean Franklin: 7 | Community: 6.9
Assisted on the hat trick goal, was 43 of 53 passing (including 6 of 7 long balls) with 3 key passes as well. Defensively, led the team with 5 tackles (of 6 attempted), also had a clearance and an interception to go with 6 recoveries. Was clicking with Sam for most of the night and the off-the-ball runs from both were effective all night.
Steve Birnbaum: 7.5 | Community: 7.2
Had three shots, two on target, also assisted on the Nyarko goal that flip flopped from Nyarko to Mullins in the second half. Since Sam came to D.C. (including the game he appeared on the bench in Philly), Birnbaum has 2 goals, 2 assists and 15 shots in 9 games, and connected on 47 of 54 passes Saturday. Defensively won 7 of 8 aerials to go with 4 clearances, three tackles and two interceptions. The guy was so electric he did touch a ball for a goal, but it came off a Fire shot in the first half! Please don't get broken by Jurgen over the next few days, please and thanks.
Bobby Boswell: 7 (Captain) | Community: 6.5
2 interceptions, 2 clearances and a tackle defensively, connected on 72% of his passes, almost all of which came from his own half of the field. Had a quiet night, didn't look bad, but he'll have a big task coming up with David Villa.
Taylor Kemp: 6.5 | Community 6.6
43 of 54 passing (11 of 16 in the attacking third) and was part of two of the three most successful passing combinations on the night (from Acosta, to Nyarko), Had a team-high 5 clearances, also had 5 recoveries, two tackles and an interception. Solid night.
Marcelo Sarvas: 7 (off 76') | Community: 6.9
52 of 59 passes, including 3 key passes and an assist, and most of said passes being distributed to the outside mids or forward to Mullins. Had 4 recoveries, 3 clearances, 3 tackles, 2 interceptions and a blocked shot. Something I noticed over the course of the game post-red card (and perhaps this is part of the formation help) is that when he drops back in support when the team has the ball, it allows Birnbaum to come up and get into the offensive action more while he and Boswell can stay in back. It's been there before I presume, it never sunk in as much as it did Saturday. Also quietly continuing to lobby for some sort of Honorable Mention Best XI thing for him because he continues to deserve it.
Lloyd Sam: 6.5 | Community: 6.8
Sam and Kemp combined for 23 successful passes, and Sam connected on 30 of 35 (3 key passes), and an insane 16 of 18 in the attacking third. When he wasn't passing to Franklin? Usually in the middle, where Acosta was (Franklin and Acosta comprise about 2/3 of Sam's passes on the night):
Jared Jeffrey: 6 (off 37') | Community: 5.5
I thought in between the early yellow and the elbow he took that Ben was pulling him off to avoid the 2nd one. As it turns out he may have had (is?) going through some sort of protocol. Made all 11 passes, had a clearance and interception before leaving.
Luciano Acosta: 9.5 | Community: 8.7
A goal and three assists. 57 of 69 passes, including 6 chance creators, including 8 of 9 long balls, connected on his only through ball, and 27 of 36 in the attacking third. 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 clearances, and 93 touches on the night (a new high for him). At .39 assists per 90 minutes, quietly putting in more assists than guys like Diego Valeri, Lee Nguyen and Benny Feilhaber. Can't help but wonder where the sky is for him.
Patrick Nyarko: 10 (MOTM) (off 80') | Community: 8.2
Assisted on the first two goals, and both were great; the first was off a back heel, the second was him running out a shot that was deflected and was heading out for a set piece. Eventually scored one of his own in the second half, and perhaps unwittingly drew the red card that took the Fire down to 10. 24 of 28 passing (and a key pass), and 13 of 15 in the attacking third. Defensively, 3 tackles and 9 recoveries to boot, and generally made his former employers pay, as they should.
Patrick Mullins: 10 | Community: 9.3 (MOTM)
6 shots, all in the 18, 1 blocked, 4 on target, 3 in the goal for the team's first hat trick in two years, could have had at least one more, 4 aerials won (of 7). Dude finished his chances, that's for sure.
Rob Vincent: 6.5 (on 37') | Community: 6.8
Came on for Jeffrey and connected on 43 of 49 passes, had 3 shots, 1 on target. Had a tackle, an interception and 6 recoveries and generally held back and picked his shots when he had the chance. Will likely face a mother of a task Thursday.
Nick DeLeon: 6.5 (on 76') | Community: 6.9
9 of 11 passing including a key pass, converted his only shot into his first goal in awhile, which he visibly was relieved at. Has focused on the attack his last few appearances and it's showing, and he's proving to cause some trouble as an energy sub.
Kennedy Igboananike: 5.5 (on 80') | Community: 5.6
Got a chance to spite his former employer too and...connected on 1 of 3 passes, had an interception and a shot.
Based on 79 votes: your Fire Man of the Match was David Accam, edging out Michael de Leeuw:
Drew Fischer - Referee:
Your votes rated Fischer a 6.7 on 75 votes.
So the other thing I talked about last week about games like last week is that there is not a lot to gleam from them, other than if you punt one game, you better deliver on the other, and D.C. did just that. But like the Montreal game, there is not a lot to really take from this: goodness knows D.C. isn't going to score a half dozen goals a game for the next 4 months (though what a world THAT would be), and they aren't going to face teams playing their third game in eight days using all their starters and being down a man for an hour. Sometimes the wall hits, and it hits hard.
About the only thing that is does do is expand an already impressive sample size of time for Sam, Acosta, Nyarko and Mullins in the attacking quartet. The Black-and-Red machine hums, scoring 13 goals in their 5 August games, a total that accounts for almost 40% of their offensive production on the season. One of those 4 players has been part of 10 of those 13 goals, 11 if you take Nyarko's drawn penalty kick and Lamar Neagle's conversion in last week's game against the Impact.
The scary part? This should continue to evolve. Barring large unforeseen circumstance, the team would be eager and willing to make Acosta's loan permanent. Sam and Mullins are already signed for next season, and Nyarko may already possibly be signed (he signed a contract extension at the end of the 2015 season, the terms of which were not made available). With Alvaro Saborio almost certainly out the door at the end of the season, and it remains unknown how far away Chris Rolfe is from playing, if at all, D.C. could add younger, more mobile pieces to this squad, Acosta will continue to grow into the League and he and Mullins will continue to develop chemistry. D.C. United's roster age continues to diminish (28 in 2014, 27.7 in 2015 and 26.4 now), and could conceivably get younger in the offseason, even with an expansion draft on the horizon.
D.C would presumably continue to refine the core offensive players as the slow march to Buzzard Point rolls on, but this foursome at the moment sure is fearsome.