Man of the Match: Any goal is gold in a close match involving a team that hasn’t won in month. So, Will Johnson’s close-range strike on a brave header just after intermission was enormous around Rio Tinto. The Canadian international did the usual, useful defensive work along his side, keeping Nick DeLeon from having much to say about this one.
Packaged for take-away:
- It was a dark and stormy night around Rio Tinto. The game was into its 4th minute when lightning forced an 84-minute delay. It was rainy from there.
- Dwayne De Rosario’s wonderful blast from about 25 yards and the effort to keep it out from RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was surely the best shot-save combo of the night. Both were exceptional.
- If United defender Brandon McDonald wasn’t kicking or tripping RSL playmaker Javier Morales, DCU teammate Marcelo Saragosa was.
- McDonald was Ben Olsen’s preferred right back. He’s certainly a hardy defensive presence, but the converted center back gives his team precious little on the attack.
- D.C. United’s transition from defense to attack was whip-sharp in the first 45. The outlets into De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy and Chris Pontius were precise, and that trio aggressively took the initiative once in possession.
- Johnson’s goal just after intermission was precisely what RSL needed in more ways than one – Aside from the obvious, Jason Kreis’ men desperately need more scoring out of the midfield. Because Alvaro Saborio can’t do it all by himself.
- Even when Saborio isn’t scoring, he makes a lot happen. The Costa Rican striker occupies defenders and makes them work for every challenge. In a match where United legs were going to be stretched to capacity anyway, that stuff is important. (Oh, he had a legitimate penalty claim, too, which Silviu Petrescu incorrectly waved off.)
- The tired legs we thought we might see from D.C. United, playing the last of five matches in 14 days? Not so much in the first half, when the game was wide open and the visitors matched the pace. But it did all seem to catch up with Olsen’s men after the break, when they weren’t as zippy in the transition and couldn’t defend as actively and aggressively.
- Pajoy is working hard for his new team. But he has has one goal and no assists in five starts for D.C. United. Sufficient production? It’s certainly not great, although the sample remains small at this point.