So I watched this after it aired on Sunday night (look, if your kid wants to go out, you go out, OK?) and am coming into it somewhat clean. And so let’s fire up the quick and dirty and possibly wrong opinions I may have about D.C. United losing to Atlanta United 3-1 Sunday afternoon:
You thought there would be a result out of this game?
There was so much going against it. The reverse hoodoo that I mentioned Saturday. The home opener. The 72,000 bodies rooting against the Black-and-Red. A switch of sorts for the hosts, employing a 3-5-2 that threw things for a loop. Heck, Atlanta United completed more attacking third passes (111) than DC attempted (103). For the road side, D.C. United’s performance lacked cohesion, it lacked challenge, but it also lacked something that folks cite ironically at times when referring to the team’s play: It lacked grit.
Which brings us to....
More like SegurBLAH and MoreNO!!!!!!
I liked more than I disliked the play of Ulises Segura and Junior Moreno last week when D.C. tied Orlando City, but that tying goal last week checked off both their brains when it came to their play on the field.
This week? Still checked out a bit, starting on goal 1:
Armchair Analyst: Nobody loves running lanes the way Atlanta United loves running lanes. DC played themselves. pic.twitter.com/PkHhrnoi5d— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) March 11, 2018
Segura saw a lot of the ball linking up with the fullbacks and was 41/43 in the first two-thirds of the field, and his final third work is fine, however with Luciano Acosta as a presumed starter next week against the Houston Dynamo, Segura’s defensive support that needs to get worked out; specifically helping Moreno (or whoever will have that job) soon.
Which brings us to Junior. We saw goal 1, here’s goal 3:
What a rocket by Almiron! 2-0 Atlanta! pic.twitter.com/ljkf6Kiva8— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) March 11, 2018
See that guy, running past the referee to support marking of Joseph Martinez when it didn't look necessary? That’s Moreno.
Here’s another one of Moreno just before the end of the first half on Miguel Almiron, showing him the path to get walked and then almost fouled in a dangerous area for a free kick:
I understand he’s still learning the league, but I also understand that calls for Chris Durkin are getting more justifiable with each week (especially with little news on the Russell Canouse injury front). The paradox becomes what to do since (small sample size) Segura and Moreno are your first and fourth most active, accurate passers on the team right now.
But they need coaching up, and fast.
There’s still work to do.
It’s something that I can’t NOT fall back on after two weeks really; the guys I mentioned above went from their first MLS game to their first MLS game on turf, which does count for a little bit. Oniel Fisher is an answer to a question I’m not sure anyone wanted, and he may have a line at right back after Joseph Mora gets onboarded, if for no other reason than the fact that the alternatives are the most-tenured guy on the team right now (Nick DeLeon) who is a converted midfielder possibly in the last year of a far too expensive deal, and a non-roster invitee that the team drafted and rostered in 2017 (Chris Odoi-Atsem).
So the Dynamo, a team that’s fast in their own right at times, comes to the Plex on Saturday, having throttled Atlanta in week 1 and had Vancouver in their grasp save for some bad finishing. D.C. knows what they need to do as a unit and knows what the surroundings will be kind of like, the next question becomes do some of the cogs in the machine stay engaged for 90 consecutive minutes?