Professional sports teams that are committed to a serious run for the playoffs have a way of making up for lost opportunities. D.C. United served notice on Saturday of its serious intent by securing the full three points from a hard fought and well-managed 1-0 road win against Philadelphia.
The week before in Portland United felt like it lost at least a point in a 3-2 defeat. In that loss to the Timbers United was less than a minute away from a tie. All week leading up to the match against the Union, the Black and Red talked of wanting to recover. D.C. backed up that talk with a result based on well-timed attacks and a steely resistance from an organized defense.
“You know, I think it says we’re growing, some of the stuff hasn’t been good enough this season, I thought we played much better in Portland overall and came away with nothing. Here, maybe it wasn’t the greatest night but we found a way and I’m proud of the guys today, it says were not making these mistakes again.”
1. Fabian Espindola is in the lead for United’s player of the year. Espindola’s 4 goals and 3 assists so far this season jump off the page, but his work rate at both ends of the field continue to impress. The commitment to do whatever it takes bursts through Espindola’s jersey. Several times on Saturday Espindola could be seen tracking back and helping to break up a Union attack after working hard to create something on offense for United.
2. Bill Hamid and the defense had his defense had their best game. If you watched the game with us on Comcast SportsNet you know what I am talking about. In the 64th minute Andrew Wenger made a clever turn at the top of the box to free himself for a point-blank shot at Hamid. A ricochet followed and more shots, but Hamid and company denied. The sequence included Perry Kitchen thwarting a charging Danny Cruz before Jeff Parke finally cleared it for good. Bobby Boswell teamed with Parke to control the middle, while Chris Korb and Cristian Fernandez did well on the flanks. Korb was especially active going forward and made two critical tackles in midfield.
3. United has depth. With Nick De Leon sidelined by a hamstring injury, Lewis Neal started on the right side of midfield. Neal’s work rate was tremendous. He was creative when he had to be and at other time tenacious on defense. Off the bench Conor Doyle continued to impress and his ball-pressure late helped United finish the game.
4. Eddie Johnson is still not in synch. This is not about any controversial comments. There is no controversy in the United locker room. Johnson made a well-timed run on a Davy Arnaud through ball and scored, but it was called for offside. Replays showed Johnson probably should have had his first goal. Still the integration of Johnson to United remains a work in progress. He has special qualities that have not fully been on display yet.