Over the course of a long MLS season, there are going to be matches in which the result is simply not deserved. Perhaps this was one of them. Kansas City should have had two, three goals in the first half, but because of Troy Perkins's saves and because of Devon McTavish's blocks and because of another Luciano Emilio goal, United stole one. Things will even out by the time the playoffs roll around in October, one-way soccer by United that is not rewarded with a victory. Today it went the other way.
Credit to Tom Soehn for shifting Fred to the right and, at halftime, replacing the offensively ambitious but defensively flawed Justin Moose with Dominic Mediate. Credit to Emilio for creating a sliver of space and cooly finishing. Mostly, though, credit to Perkins for keeping United in contention with several superb one-on-one saves.
A few personnel notes: Although Bolivia is out of Copa, Jaime Moreno had to return to Bolivia before heading back to Washington. So chances are, United will give him some days off and allow him to skip the Houston match Sunday. A decision will be made tonight or tomorrow. With the U.S. team on its way out, don't be surprised to see Bobby Boswell in a United uniform Sunday. Ben Olsen, on the other hand, may or may not be asked to suit up in Houston after extensive Copa duty.
Okay, player ratings:
Perkins 9; Simms 5, Vanney 5, McTavish 7, Gros 5; Carroll 4, Gomez 6, Fred 7, Moose 5; Addlery 4, Emilio 6. Subs: Mediate 6, Dyachenko 5, deRoux 5.
(Fortunate to be ahead at the half?) Absolutely. They had the better of the chances and I thought we put Troy under too much stress but he came up time and time again. We didn't have many chances but when they got a chance, Luciano finished it off.
(The Vanney-McTavish combo) Hard to gauge. The circumstances, the heat and all, they don't know each other that well yet so we had some breakdowns. It's going to take a little time and it's hard to factor in when you are playing at noon in 100-degree heat like it was, but both teams had to do it, and I give them credit, they pushed the game at us pretty well and created a lot of dangerous opportunities.
(Key to Perkins's success) I let him play his IPod in the locker room today so I think we're going to stick to that for a while. Usually it's banned.
(Overall play) At the start of the game, we played a lot of balls to our front-runners to their feet and we got away from that. We were actually possessing the ball in our own third, which is not where you want to do it, especially on the road in the heat. As we started to play the ball forward more and play in their half, it opens things up and puts them under some different habits where they now have to go 70 yards to get their chance. We started to look forward a little bit more.
(The heat) It had an impact on everybody. Everyone coming off was knackered. It's a tough atmosphere to play in, tough for both teams. You don't always get the best soccer on a day like today.
(On Emilio) He's a guy you don't want to face you up. I give him credit because he made something out of a tight situation and he's a goal scorer, he makes a living scoring goals, and he's been doing a pretty good job of it lately.
(On his first game) We obviously had our moments where we were a little off and not on the same page, but Troy came up big and made some saves and kept us in it. Being the first game, playing in the heat midday, they're never pretty. It's always the team that guts it out in the heat and gets their chance and capitalizes on it. We stuck it out and we got the three points on a tough day. We created a lot of our own problems giving away balls.
(On the goal) I looked them off and was able to pull the ball back enough to create enough space to take the shot.
(On the heat) It was tough to run. I just felt very heavy. It was hard to get going.
(On his day) It was one of those games where you know they are going to get a lot of chances because it's hot and it's not going to be pretty. I got lucky a couple times and just held my ground.
(On being in first place) I don't think we've accomplished anything yet. It's still a long season ahead of us. We have a lot of games this month and next month coming, and we're really not looking behind us. We're worried about where we are right now and where we are going.
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