Seven games into D.C. United's season, I think it is safe to conclude that this club is not nearly as bad as they showed the first few weeks but not quite as good as so many observers, including myself, thought they would be.
United has found a rhythm -- a rhythm of results. For the most part, it is not beautiful soccer. It is simply efficient soccer and, for a club that dropped its first three matches, that will have to do for now. They still don't have much play on the flanks, Luciano Emilio has not scored in weeks and Facundo Erpen is kicking anything that moves (including someone's head). But Christian Gomez has gotten his groove back, Troy Perkins has regained his confidence, Guy-Roland Kpene has shed his rookie uncertainties, the defense has tightened up and the midfield is not giving away possession as often.
It's a very good team, but not a great team, and has yet to show championship characteristics. I am curious to see how this team evolves through the summer.
Anyway, here are this evening's player ratings:
Perkins 7, Namoff 6, Boswell 6, Erpen 5, Gros 5, Carroll 6, Olsen 7, Fred 5, Gomez 8, Kpene 6, Emilio 6. Subs: Addlery 5, Dyachenko 5, Simms 5.
My game report.
Continue below for bonus quotes.....
(Overall thoughts) We started well. That's a hard-working team. It's tough. I think I died, I think a couple guys died, because of the heat. That's why it's so important to get those early goals and we were able to hang on at the end. At the end of the year, no matter how you get it done, there are three points on the board.
(On Gomez) Christian, like this team, the more games we play, the more true form we are going to show, and I think Christian is starting to show his true form.
(On Perkins's PK save) Huge! If he had to dedicate it to someone, it would have to be Alecko because Alecko used to give him a real hard time about not saving PKs.
(On his PK-save celebration) I was excited. I kicked the post.
(On team psyche) The confidence is starting to get there, but there are still some things we've got to fix, as always. Tommy is never going to be happy.
The first half was really good. There was some nice stuff out there. Second half we defended as a team, sometimes it was tough, give them credit, they pushed a lot of numbers forward and put a lot of stress on us. They came back strong but we gutted it out.
First half I thought we came out and really took the game to them. I told them that if we could get one early, I think it could go a long way. Our play, our possession, Christian started to get creative, find spaces, first half I was very impressed the way we built it up and created our chances.
(On the improving defense) We don't have any shutouts yet so I am not happy.
(On team progress) We still have a lot of learning to do, a lot of growing to do as a team. Obviously, any time you bring in new faces it takes a little while to get a good understanding of what a Fred is like, what Guy brings, even Rod coming in, and over a course of a season, you do that and you don't want to peak now; you want to do that at the end of the season.
(On the 2-0 lead) I can guarantee you I didn't say let's sit in and counterattack. Sometimes the game dictates that. A two-goal lead is a dangerous lead coming out of halftime. It gives you the idea that you think you are fine, that you have a cushion, but that's a tough lead. We had a chance to get the third one, and a lot of times if you don't finish that off, it keeps a team around. Houston is a good team and you don't want to keep them around for too long.
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