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United Rewind

The final score was 5-3. It very easily could've been 9-8. Poor defending by both sides turned a U.S. Open Cup play-in match with something at stake into a free for all. Despite United's three-goal advantage early in the second half, there was a sense of tension, a feeling that the outcome was far from resolved. New York's threats and United's missteps created the unexpected late-game anxiety. The eight goals were the most in a United game since a 6-2 win over New York five years ago. (No, the 6-2 loss to Colorado in the Hall of Fame Game in 2005 doesn't count.)

Positives for United: Chris Pontius embraced another new position (deep midfield) and produced, building his stature as the league's best rookie; Christian Gomez engineered the attack with vision and expertise before departing at halftime; Boyzzz Khumalo and Fred were lively and dangerous, though New York's comical defensive effort helped make it all possible. The Red Bulls were scheduled to take the late Acela home from Union Station; judging by the start of the match, they seemed eager to catch an earlier train.

Attendance was announced as 5,056 (tickets distributed). I'm guessing the actual turnout was closer to 3,000. Maybe less. It's an Open Cup play-in game -- what did you expect?

The match report with quotes.

PLAYER RATINGS
Wicks 5; Namoff 5, Janicki 4, John 4.5; Barklage 7, McTavish 5, Pontius 8, Gomez 8, Fred 7; Khumalo 6.5, N'Silu 6. Subs: Jacobson 5, Wallace 6, DiRaimondo 5, Burch 5.

For bonus quotes, keep reading.....

Pontius, on the second-half letdown: "It's hard to keep that pace going for a full 45. A lot of the guys haven't been getting the full 90, so they are not necessarily all game-fit. It was partly that and then partly New York starting to figure us out a little bit and making changes."

Pontius, on the new position: "I like it. I need to get more comfortable on the ball, balls into my feet more. It's a little different than outside midfield or forward. I like being able to get involved on the defensive end, pick up balls in the middle and go from there."

Coach Tom Soehn: "They [Red Bulls] held a high line and I think we exposed it pretty well and probably could've had more out of the first 28 minutes or so. But then we started to stretch a little bit and we felt like we needed to attack with a lot of numbers. The way their line was, we didn't have to attack with too many. We should've kept our shape a little better. ... We had some tough moments too and I just felt it was important to give some of the guys that haven't gotten minutes, they had to dig themselves out of those holes and learn a little bit about themselves."

Soehn: "It's still a 90-minute game and there were stretches where there were positives but there were a lot of things we can look at too that we need to fix. The first half was probably a lot better on the positive side, but in the second half, we made a lot of errors. It's important that they go through those stretches to learn. ... We stopped playing soccer. The thing we did so well in the first half was move the ball around and they were chasing. Second half, we forgot to do that."

Soehn, on keeper Josh Wicks: "He still has to manage a game better. It's little details that we talk to our players about. We are trying to finish off a game and he kicked about three right to their keeper. Little intricacies like that - all of our guys have to be sharp, understand the situation and what the game means. He probably came out for one he could've punched and tried to catch. All that stuff is part of the learning process."

Soehn, on the lineup: "I knew it wasn't going to be perfect and I knew we were going to give up some chances, not as many as we did. You learn a little bit about every scenario you are in."

Soehn, on Gomez: "We need to continue to push his minutes. When he's healthy and fit, he's a difference-maker. Even today you saw how easy it was for him to expose the backline. Not many No. 10s still have the capability of scoring goals and making runs that get in behind."

Soehn, on Pontius: "We tried him sitting in a little deeper and see if he can understand that position. He has some positive moments and some things that now we can look at on tape and say, 'Chris, this is what you need to do here.' We move him around everywhere and he continues to adapt."

By Steve Goff  |  May 21, 2009; 12:06 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , U.S. Open Cup  
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Next: Video: Argentina Victory

Comments

First DC United game attended in five years (on account of the family being in StL) Forgot how much fun they are. Both my brother and I had a great time.

NYRB D is hilarious to watch.

Barklage is an absolute player. While he may not get the most minutes this season I really like what I see from him. His technique and composer are top class.

Posted by: grubbsbl | May 21, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

8s for Pontius and Gomez? Not surprised, based on the Limarzi's radio call -- but those are the first 8s, I believe, of the year. I think Jaime got a 9, earlier. Very encouraging, even if the opposition was lousy -- remember these guys got whipped by Crystal Palace in last year's Cup. Fred's 7 is also encouraging, considering he missed a sitter. John's rating is disappointing, as DCU is still struggling to find a consistent, solid left back.

I guess the big question is where this leaves our goaltender situation...I expect Crayton to start Saturday. Will WIcks be the #2, or is it Kocic? And what is the front office thinking about with Crayton's contract, with 2 months to go?

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Dang PARTYBOY is on fire! Is he Jaime's replacement in training? Does he have dead ball skills? Can United hang on to him? What did his girlfriend think about him giving his shirt to those ladies on ladies night?

Posted by: DadRyan | May 21, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Glad to read that Gómez is getting in the groove and that Rojas got to make a splash too. I only wish I had seen it!

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | May 21, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

I have never purchased a customized United jersey, this year I will purchase a #13 "Party Boy" jersey.

Posted by: alecw81 | May 21, 2009 1:59 AM | Report abuse

personally, I like cup games. they are usually cheaper and I get better seats and, most importantly, it is still my team playing! ah well, in 40 days I'll be living in DC again, so there should be plenty more cup games to watch. but no superliga. ;-)

Posted by: troy6 | May 21, 2009 3:25 AM | Report abuse

Can we please switch to a 4-4-2? From right to left, I 'd like to see Namoff-Jakovic-Janicki-Wallace. That way we can also get 4 of the following 5 on the field in any given game: Wallace, Fred, Quaranta, and Pontius. Wallace's man marking can't be any worse than Burch who has gotten beaten for a goal on average every other game. John looked pretty bad last night as well. He kept booting the ball up field time and time again, and Richards was giving him fits. I thought Goff's rating for Janicki was a little harsh, as well.

This is by far my favorite DC team of this decade. We are so deep and have tremendous upside (and we're still tied for first in the East!). Because of our depth and horses the Open Cup is ours for the taking (with a 4-4-2 lineup).

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | May 21, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

When are we going to start losing Pontius to national team duty?

Posted by: granadoskerry | May 21, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

as one of the 3000...what a night. Perfect weather, crazy game. Could not believe I was looking at a 4-0 scoreboard, took a phone call and then could not believe I was looking at 3 RB goals. Question on RFK. For the first time I checked out the outdoor patio overhanging the main gate, why is the no beer garden or something else up there?

Posted by: mbetka23 | May 21, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Wicks got a 5 maybe he should be our starter...

@Jaime this team is looking very interesting, but I liked the team of Gomez's MVP season, before their melt-down. They had the Supporters Shield wrapped up almost by the half-way mark. This team could be better if we can fix the defense. I'll give you that.

Posted by: bighungry | May 21, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Dear Soccer Insiders,

I really enjoyed DC's thrilling 35-21 victory over New York. Since this was my first game, can you guys answer clear up a few things for me?

Did the cheerleaders have the night off because it was Wednesday?

Shouldn't New York's field goal with 30 minutes left have counted for 3 instead of 7?

Aren't you guys supposed to have goalies or something, like in hockey?

Sincerely,
New Soccer Fan!!!!!!!

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | May 21, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

My original thinking was that Pontius wouldn't get a USMNT callup until the January 2010 camp at the earliest or maybe even past that (sometime after the 2010 WC). But he's clearly a tactically smart guy, he works hard, he's very coachable and now he's show he can contribute in a Pirlo role (deep laying playmaker), A-mid, forward and outside mid. Don't get me wrong--I'm not arguing he's going to challenge Dempsey or Donovan. He's probably not among the top 30 American players, maybe not even among the top 50 American players. But he's an incredible versatile attacker. And when you build a WC side, it's always great to make that last player or two on the roster, someone who is either an exceptional role-player (killer in the air, or a great deadball specialist or a speed merchant--that you can use as a late-game sub in the right situation) or conversely, a guy that can play 5-6 positions decently for you. Because as I remember, if the US had beaten Germany and advanced to the semis in 2002, we had 13 field players left who weren't either suspended or injured. For a hard tournament, especially if you have hopes of advancing, it's critical to have a few guys who can play a lot of different roles for you yet be a good team player and not complain or rabble rouse if they never see a minute.

Posted by: JoeW1 | May 21, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I really didn't want to buy into this, but, uh, Pontius maybe should get a call into Gold Cup camp. Maybe not the tournament itself, but just the pre-tourney camp to get him a look, and maybe put a little more fire in his belly.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | May 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else want Soehn to quit moving Pontius around? I think we have enough utility players that can be used everywhere. Yes he may be great everywhere he gets put, but he should be concentrating on becoming the best player in a certain position.

Posted by: SexyOffender | May 21, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Hurray for DC United!

Posted by: WorldCup | May 21, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Is the team is going to post another homemade game highlights video on their website like they did for the last Open Cup play-in game?

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | May 21, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

What a perfect night. Great game. I was really impressed with Pontius, Gomez and Barklage. Janicki was playing well until the PK. After that he didn't play well until the final 5-10 minutes of the game. I was glad to see he picked himself up.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | May 21, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I wish we had some video highlights, I'd like to see the goals against again. Two came from up the middle, right? Was it Janicki slipping up, or did the d-mids leave him hanging?

Wicks seemed better, but still makes me the most nervous of the three. He had some nice saves for sure.

N'Silu and Boyzzz both making a good case for playing time. N'Silu and Emilio could be a handful, popping in Boyzzz for whomever needs it, putting Jaime back at A-mid / withdrawn forward.

I don't see any of our guys getting calls up this round, but in a year, after more development, we might be in trouble.

Posted by: eadc | May 21, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Question on RFK. For the first time I checked out the outdoor patio overhanging the main gate, why is the no beer garden or something else up there?
-----
for years there was a great bar and "food" was available. But since baseball came in and eff'd up the stadium all around, they changed the seating areas and folks stopped going up there. doesnt make sense to open up vending if no-one goes there.

Posted by: Section107 | May 21, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Section107/mbetka23: Many folks have stopped going there because there has been nothing there - it did not work the other way around. The first year it was all left empty, some of us would meet up there and complain about it to each other, but even we stopped going up after a while.

A few years back, they had bands up there and a food place with a grill set up outside, but I haven't seen anything there this year (only looked once) or last year.

In '96 & '97 inside there was a real actual bar with a bartender - damn good times! It cost to get in (a season ticket "club" deal), but well worth it.
It would be the perfect place to serve alot of mezzanine people from. The bathrooms up there tend to be pretty nice though :-)

Posted by: dcufan | May 21, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

DadRyan, after Gomez went off last night Mr. BaRRD and I were commenting that no one could hold up the ball. They could run around to get out of trouble, but no one could just hold on to the ball with sheer force of strength or will. So if he is Jaime in waiting he's going to have to work on that.

Can't speak to the relationship issues. ;)

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | May 21, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I think everyone is getting a little overzealous about Pontius. He'll have to maintain this level of play for awhile before he will get a call up. Remember Bradley has his favorites after all. Johnson hasn't been on form for ever and he was getting call ups until pretty recently. Even if Pontius deserves it he won't get a call until after the World Cup, unless he improves his numbers and play drastically. Bradley has his team set and it'll be very difficult to break into it.

Posted by: bighungry | May 21, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I loved Pontious quote about some guys not being fit to go 90, especially since he essentially walked through most of the second half. Call-Up not before Jan. 2011 and not then unless he shows he can go 90 minutes at a high level, not just 45 against Red Bull reserve defenders

Posted by: congguy | May 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Steve,

I thought the actual number was closer to 5k than 3k.

For the first time in 10 years I got caught in a traffic jam on GW so I missed the first 25 or so minutes.

Based on what I saw in the remainder of the first and the entire second half, United looked very, very shaky. At no time did DC look like they were going to manage the game to a win.

Instead, the mistakes being made especially in the back were horrific and save for a couple of misses by NY we could have had a 5-5 tie which would have forced overtime.

Posted by: dcufan531 | May 21, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

As one of the "3000", I think the back 3 is getting a bit of a bad rap. By about minute 60, Soehn had either rookies or guys signed this year or late last year on the field (except for McTavish). The midfield, especially Barklage and Jacobson, started playing too far up and created space for New York to run into. Essentially, the 3 man back line was confronted with continual "odd man rushes", to use a hockey term, and was overwhelmed. When Barklage and Jacobson started to play defense and Soehn went to 4 in the back with Burch, John, Janicki and McTavish, New York's attack faded away.

Posted by: griffin1108 | May 21, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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