A View from the Top Row
DC United vs New England Revolution
Recap: An under-the-weather Wayne Rooney was unable to be on the touchline as DC United suffered a late goal to fall to a very fortunate New England Revolution leaving the Black and Red reeling with three losses in four games.
Injuries, illness and international call ups meant that the starting lineup of both teams were both younger and in the case of DC a bit more creative. Assistant coach Pete Shuttleworth had two goalies on his bench, and two fewer players at his disposal than New England because of all the injuries the team has endured.
Surprisingly Derrick Williams got the start at center back after showing up on the injury report. Another surprise in the night’s lineup was that Jacob Greene made his first MLS start over Mo Jeazhe. Jeahze was not available on the bench. His injury must’ve been a little more than originally thought. In addition Jackson Hopkins returned to the starting lineup, taking the left midfield position that an injured Pedro Santos had left vacated.
It was a very damp and slick night in Washington, with both teams slipping and sliding on the pitch, which made for some rough uneven play, and helped lead to a few chances by New England. The Revolution definitely started on the front foot and created a number of dangerous opportunities early in the first half. United was fortunate that Gustavo Bou missed a couple of close-range opportunities to keep the game tied at zero. The Revolution would outshoot the Black and Red 11-5 in the first half, but the defense and Miller were able to make most of those shots were weak low chance opportunities. Over time, DC United were able to settle the game, and began to create their own opportunities.
As was the case in the first game versus Toronto, DC was able to put together a chain of passes that would see the team score. Christian Benteke scored his third goal of the season in the 45th minute, when he buried a perfect crossing assist by Ruan.
DC started the second half on the front foot, and looked to get the second goal. Unfortunately they couldn’t get a clean shot on goal. It was enough to make New England Head Coach Bruce Arena to make a change to the Revolution’s attack. He brought in game changer Carles Gil and former USMNT stalwart Jozy Altidore in the 62nd minute to change things up. Unfortunately this change worked as Carles Gil was able to change the rhythm of the game and give the Revolution more control. A few minutes after Gil subbed in, Gustavo Bou leveled the game with his second goal of the season, having received an inch perfect pass from the Spaniard. Durkin had attempted to head away the pass, and then slipped on the damp field just enough to let Bou get a clean look at goal, and was able to slot the pass past Miller.
In a response to the tie, Shuttleworth looked to counter Arena’s moves, by boosting the attack, bringing on Yamil Asad and for his 2023 debut Taxi Fountas from DC’s depleted bench. Taxi did bring his signatory energy and creativity to the game, and DC was able to mount a very determined attack.
Noel Buck scored on a deflected shot in the 88th minute, when he one-timed a ball that had been headed clear after a corner to the top of the box. The shot found its way through the crowd and deflected off Christian Beneteke’s leg past Miller. It was unlucky, as Miller would have had the save if not for the deflection.
DC again showed the grit and determination that Head Coach Wayne Rooney is endeavoring to imbue in the team. They peppered the goal, and kept the ball in dangerous areas, unfortunately Dorde Petrovic showed why he’s getting real interest from clubs like Manchester United. Soccer is a game of inches; the Revolution scored because the ball deflected off a defender, they were saved from a goal because one of their defenders was on the goal line to stop a sure goal during a scrum in front of the goalmouth.
It was a disheartening loss that left D.C. near the bottom of the standings with four points from five matches, at some point the team needs to make the results match the play of team.
Words from the Assistant Gaffer: “Well I think like I say the first 15 minutes; last week I think we spoke about the first 45 minutes against New York, and we came out with a similar kind of mentality for the first 15. We weren’t close enough, we weren’t-uh-our intensity was a little bit down.
“But they snapped out of that, and I thought we ended the half with a lot of control. The goal came at a really good time for us. And we asked the lads to carry that in the second half, and they did. And before they made the subs and their first goal, I never felt we were threatened.
“I thought we were in the ascendancy. Thought we moved the ball really well. I think we mixed up our game, to hit Christian who caused a lot of problems. I thought he was outstanding.”
“You don’t always get what you deserve.”
Observations From the Upper Deck:
DC United is still without a clean sheet, giving up multiple goals in four of five games. The team has to find a way to fix the defense.
Despite the result, the Black and Red played better than the Revolution. The team as a whole appears to be vastly improved over last season’s team.
Ruan and Chris Durkin had their positions flipped, with the Brazilian playing as an attacking winger, while Durkin played as a defensive fullback.
Yamil Asad does not play like a winger anymore. He’s a little too slow, and doesn’t just take the ball and go at the defense. He might be better played in the center of the field where his still exceptional ball control can help push the ball forward.
Russell Canouse had a rough game on the slick pitch. He brings a tough demeanor and will defend doggedly, but had trouble turning with the ball. Could see him getting dropped to the bench.
Jackson Hopkins shows a ton of potential, but needs to hit the weight room. He got himself into great positions throughout his time on the field, but he needs more strength to take on defenders and to hold up the ball. He reminds me of Ted Ku-DiPietro two years ago; lots of talent, just needs to get the game fitness.
Taxi Fountas looked to remind the fans at Audi Field just what he can do on the pitch. He made a couple good runs, and had several shots on goal. None had the quality to find the back of the net, but they showed what a great combination he could be with Benteke.
With the return of Taxi Fountas, DC United finally have all three Designated Players.
Tyler Miller 5
Jacob Greene 5
Derrick Williams 5
Steve Birnbaum 4
Chris Durkin 5
Mateusz Klich 6
Russell Canouse 4
Jackson Hopkins 5
Ted Ku-DiPietro 6
Christian Benteke 8
Taxi Fountas 6
Yamil Asad 5
Nigel Robertha 4
Man of the Match - Christian Benteke - The Belgian Striker continues to be goal dangerous. Benteke has been a bright spot in D.C. United’s lineup, especially recently. The veteran attacker’s consistency has been a boon to the Black-and-Red. While we are happy to see him play the danger man, we’re looking for
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