D.C. United was in the position of needing points, again, and trying to get 3 in one setting, again, an environment where they had done so only 1 time before in 19 games. It looked for a long time like they weren't going to get even one point, despite starting somewhat well. They hustled, they scrambled, and eventually left the Illinois suburbs with a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire, keeping them in the playoff hunt, but putting things into an even more precarious position in they have any desire of being part of the 2016 playoffs.
And with that, let's take a peek at how you voted, shall we?
Bill Hamid: 6 | Community 6.054
3 shots on goal, he saved 1. I think he couldn't really do anything on the corner kick one from Razvan Cocis, and perhaps could have done a touch better on the David Accam one, but there were a couple of other things to be concerned with more than this. 4 straight games with two or more goals given up, and the Bill of the last 20 minutes of the previous week with the New York Red Bulls wasn't all that present Friday night.
Luke Mishu: 5 (off 54') | Community: 4.3
In between him and Boswell, had a bit of a breakdown on the corner kick goal, and was giving Accam enough space to let him be dangerous, including a dangerous chance in the second half that just went wide. Had 20 of 22 successful passes (and a key pass) offensively, 4 recoveries, 2 interceptions and a tackle defensively. It would be nice to have Chris Korb in there, but such is life.
Steve Birnbaum: 6.5 (MOTM) | Community: 6.43
Looked a little silly when the tires when out on tailgating David Accam, and had 3 shots (0 on goal) offensively. Connected on 40 of 49 passes and had 2 chance creators. His shots were part of an aerial day where he won 8 of 9, and 5 of 6 within 25 yards of the Fire net, in case you thought Chicago would mark him this time. Had 3 recoveries, 2 tackles and a blocked shot on a night where he did more work forward, albeit in a subtle manner.
Bobby Boswell: 6.5 (Captain) | Community: 6.2
Found his head to the Nyarko poke in stoppage time for his first goal of 2016, and accompanied that with 27 of 30 passing (his 90% PA was second to Mishu), and only had 4 passes in the Fire half of the field. Defensively had 3 recoveries, 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, a blocked shot, and won 2 of 3 aerials. Was part of the 2 most active passing combinations on the night (from Birnbaum, to Kemp) which should tell you what kind of game it was if you didn't watch it. Also was a little lacking on the Cocis goal, and a little out of sorts on the second when Birnbaum stopped his tracking, and the slow gradual aging of Bobswell continues.
Taylor Kemp: 6 | Community 5.92
Next to Hamid, was the worst passer on the night (58.5% accuracy), though had 3 key passes. Had 3 recoveries defensively to go along with 3 clearances, 2 tackles, 2 blocked shots and a tackle. Should have been better offensively, but wasn't bad defensively, though he could have stepped up to Accam, a minor gripe for me. Edged out Lucho for more touches on the night, so I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.
Marcelo Sarvas: 6 (off 76') | Community: 5.94
His only shot was on goal, added to that with 43 of 49 passing, including 19 of 22 in the attacking third, mostly spread to the outside mids. Had 4 recoveries, 2 tackles (of 5 attempted total), an interception and blocked shot. Sarvas was one of several people who seemed to play casually and with not enough verve, which is going to sound like a broken record with the more we get into these things from last week, I guess.
Lloyd Sam: 6 (off 70') | Community: 5.4
28 of 34 passing, including 10 of 13 in the attacking third, and 3 key passes to go along with things. Had a shot which banana'd just wide of the goal to boot. Defensively had 3 recoveries, a tackle and an interception. Pretty much was how he was on the night.
Rob Vincent: 6.5 | Community: 6.7 (MOTM)
Opened his MLS account with that indirect free kick from 7 yards out, had another shot to go with it and connected on 40 of 50 passing. Defensively, had 3 recoveries and 2 tackles. Not sure if it's worth saying, but (and I'll say it again down the road), the number 6 and 8 positions on the field for the team have been almost exclusively occupied by players not used to playing that position, save for potentially Jared Jeffrey and Sarvas at various points, in case you had any thoughts that that general area is set in stone until Chris Durkin shows up.
Luciano Acosta: 6 | Community: 6.08
39 of 46 passing, and a slightly insane 25 of 29 in the attacking third, with two key passes and assisting on Vincent's goal. But let's be clear on something, things like this:
were part of a night of general disinterest. You can give me 11 recoveries, a tackle, a interception and (even) a blocked shot all you want, but after having essentially a two-week break, Acosta was a disappointment.
Patrick Nyarko: 6 | Community: 6
17 of 21 passing with 2 chance creators and 3 aerials won, all in the Fire half. 3 recoveries (also in the Fire half) and 2 tackles in what ultimately was a quiet night for him.
Patrick Mullins: 6 | Community: 6.054
Led the team in shots (4), save 1 blocked outside the 18, all were in the area. Won 1 aerial of 11(!), all but one in the Fire half. If you found me a monster that had Birnbaum's aerial skills and Mullins interaction, I'd be the happiest clam in the bay. As it stands, another average night for Mulligans.
Nick DeLeon: 6 (on 54') | Community: 5.8
It was his ball into the area that started the second goal rolling, and had 17 of 23 passes connect, and a shot. 3 tackles (of 4 attempted), all in the Black-and-Red half, to go with 5 recoveries. Continues to be a nice energy sub off the bench.
Lamar Neagle: 6.5 (on 70') | Community: 6.75
2 shots, one on goal, 5 of 8 passing, a recovery, and continues to be a nice option off the bench as well.
Julian Buescher: 6 (on 76') | Community: 5.97
8 of 9 passing, a key pass, and a blocked shot. Continues to hold his own on the big boys and hasn't hit the rookie wall, so there should be an upside on him going forward (side note: a Durkin-Buescher-Acosta midfield just reeks of potential, doesn't it?).
David Accam took 30 of the 37 votes and was the runaway Man of the Match for the Fire in your eyes:
Kevin Stott - Referee:
You gave Stott a 6 based on 37 votes.
When I was babbling last week, one of the things I talked about was whatever shape or form these team turns into, I'm certainly encouraged by the 2017 that's in front of them, as it were. What I didn't expect was their sense of self-awareness would be such that they would forget to do a lot of things, chief among them would be to kill a game. We've seen it before, either in this team (in other form) or in another that may be more aesthetically pleasing, the idea of playing down to an opponent. And when Rob Vincent got a shot past the wall of Fire, the thinking would seemed to have been that the Fire would fold and D.C. would keep a loose hold of the game, but not so loose that the team wouldn't relinquish the result.
The problem in thinking that is twofold; number one is that D.C. United has not banked enough confidence to do such a thing, largely because they haven't done anything for themselves to think they can. D.C. is scoring goals, and they are scoring goals on the road, and it's a wonderful thing, but since the great formation change at the end of June, D.C. is winless in 8 road games, drawing 5, and scored goals in the 88th minute or later in 5 of them. I appreciate the Black-and-Red's desire to fight, and to ruin a host's night. But, to borrow from the words of Dave Chappelle, in words of Rick James, if you're REALLY going to ruin someone's night, (mess) up their couch. The team is fairly comfortable in formation and personnel, and appears to know what it needs to do to share but the points, but if you're going to take Vienna, then take Vienna. Come out putting the home team on its back heel, make them feel uncomfortable, and kill the game off.
Hopefully they've learned this lesson, but D.C. has another big lesson in front of them Saturday vs. Orlando City SC. It's a game the points need to fall onto the Black-and-Red side, as do midweek points at Columbus Crew SC, and the following Saturday at Toronto FC. The team has been learning, but there's really no time left for them now. School's out, they need to do well on the test.