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A View From the Couch Columbus Crew v DC United

Columbus Crew v DC United 

March 4, 2023

The Starting Lineup 

Columbus Crew: Eloy Room, Steven Moreira, Philip Quinton, Milos Degenek, Yaw Yeboah, Mohamed Farsi, Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Alexandru Matan, Lucas Zelarayan, and Cucho Hernandez

Subs: Patrick Schulte, Luis Diaz, Jimmy Mendranda, Kevin Molino, Sean Zawadzki, Isaiah Parente, Jake Morris, Max Arfsten, Noah Fuson, Jacen Russell-Rowe

Captain - Darlington Nagbe

The Formation = 3-4-3

DC United: Tyler Miller; Andy Najar, Steve Birnbaum, Victor Palsson, Mo Jeahze; Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Mateusz Klich, Pedro Santos; Nigel Robertha, Christian Benteke

Subs: Alex Bono, Akinmboni, Ruan, Donovan Pines, Derrick Williams, Yamil Asad, Jackson Hopkins, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Kristian Fletcher

Captain - Steve Birnbaum

The Formation = 4-4-2

Game Recap: The Columbus Crew enjoyed a true home field advantage as they hosted DC United for their home opener. The crowd was electric and it showed in the team’s play, as the Crew pressed the Black and Red early and often.

Columbus was on the front foot from the start which culminated in Cucho Hernandez feeding Lucas Zelarayan from the left wing. The talented number 10 pirouetted with the ball and slotted the ball past Tyler Miller for the first goal of the game.

Cucho nearly doubled the lead about 15 minutes later when he headed a well placed cross on goal, but Tyler Miller was able to make a beautiful save.

At this point the Black and Red had settled into the game better and nearly tied the game.

Unfortunately for DC the reprieve was short lived and the Crew were able to play a series of give-and-go movements that kept the defense on the back foot. This led to Zelarayan with an opportunity where he put the ball top shelf into the back of the net for his second on the night.

In the beginning of the second half DC United was able get a good portion of possession, but it had the feel that the Crew had taken the foot off the gas. When Columbus wanted to they were again able to push the attack. Yaw Yeboah was in the attack when tripped outside of the box, though replays suggested he went down without much contact. On the free kick, Hernandez put a dangerous shot on goal that just missed the far post.

Later still Zelarayan noted that Tyler Miller was off of his line, and decided to have a go for a Hail Mary chip shot from midfield, but the attempt was just high and wide.

DC brought on Ted Ku-Dipietro, and Jackson Hopkins in the 62 minute, to provide more energy and attack, and both players did that, but DC was still not able to deliver the final product. Twice Ted-KDP got into dangerous positions, once putting the ball across the goalmouth, but he couldn’t quite recreate the magic of week one.

Wayne Rooney brought on two final subs in the final 10 minutes. Yamil Asad made his return to playing for DC in the 80 minute mark, and Derrick Williams in the 85th. Both of these substitutions had the feel of getting players some minutes to help prepare them for the future.

In the end, there were a few more half chances, but shots were rushed, or were easy saves for Crew Goalkeeper, Eloy Room.

A disappointing night for the Black and Red, but not a complete disaster, and they can turn it around next week when they return to Audi Field to face Orlando City SC.

Observations From the TV Den: 

  • The Crew’s press  clogged up the middle, and made it tough for DC to get any rhythm.

  • There were chances there for DC, the difference so far is that the Crew’s DP found the back of the net, and DC’s didn’t.

  • Zelarayan looked to be back to his MLS Cup winning ways when he spun away from a DC United defender to score his first goal of the season.

  • Zelarayan backed this up just before the half when he scored again for the brace.

  • Benteke had two great chances in the first half but he just couldn’t put the header on net.

  • In the first half, Andy Najar was having trouble keeping up with Cucho Hernandez’s speed.

  • Not seeing the energy from Robertha in this match as he showed in the first game.

  • Pedro Santos was just not up for this match.

  • DC couldn’t put together a string of passes together like they were able to in the first game.

Notes From the Couch:

Offense: DC created chances in the first half mostly through crosses and hold up play by Benteke but the crosses never found him. With one exception in the 36’ but Benteke puts it over the bar. Validation of Benteke’s hold up ability, but also of his lack of finishing. It will be a few weeks, but I am still Excited to see Taxi on the field with Benteke. His running off of Benteke’s hold up play could be a potent combo in this league.

Defense: DCs press in the midfield looked really good actually. We created many turnovers, especially in the first half that DC could not capitalize on in transition. However, when Columbus did get into the final third, they were almost always able to get the ball into the box or to the endline and DC was poor at clearing the ball and preventing shots.

Overall, DC did not look up to the task. Playing a better organized and more talented team in Columbus exposed DCs faults. There was little cohesion on offense and when it came to it, the lack of talent and finishing was present.

Other Things of Note:

  • Rooney tried the same ‘Let the kids play’ approach from his second half subs. But this time, to no avail. 

  • Robertha did not have the same impact he did in the first game- which was not a lot to begin with. 

  • Yamil Asad gets an appearance. 

  • Derrick Williams gets his first appearance off the bench…at left back too? Odd. 

  • DC United.'s road woes continued from last season, where it went 3-12-2 and was outscored 37-14 in away games.

Words from the Gaffer: 

Wayne Rooney: “We gave up two really sloppy goals... the goals we conceded were too easy.”

Player Ratings:

Tyler Miller           7

Mo Jeahze             4

Steve Birnbaum   4

Victor Pálsson       4

Andy Najar            6

Chris Durkin          5

Mateusz Klich        6

Russell Canouse     5

Pedro Santos          4

Nigel Robertha       4

Christian Benteke   6


Ted Ku-DiPietro     6

Jackson Hopkins     5

Yamil Assad.           6

Derrick Williams    N/A

Next Match: DC United returns to Audi Field to take on Orlando City on March 11 at 7:30 pm ET.

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