Man of the Match: United desperately needs men to fill the Dwayne De Rosario gap. Chris Pontius keeps doing his part. Against the Union he played three positions, starting on the left in a 4-2-3-1, then playing as a second forward and finally moving to the right in a 4-4-2. He was United’s most dangerous man and did some of the heavy lifting on the contest’s only goal.
Packaged for take-away:
- United went from sixth (out of the playoffs) to fourth (in the playoffs, with one spot to spare).
- How big was Lionard Pajoy’s 67th minute goal? First goal in more than 300 minutes on the road for D.C. United. First win on the road since June. Yeah, this was a huge three points for Ben Olsen’s team.
- Pajoy had just one goal in six starts coming into PPL Park. His solid hold-up work Thursday finally turned into something more concrete with a goal that will go far in boosting United’s playoffs hope – not to mention the wonders it will work for United’s confidence playing away from RFK.
- ESPN voice Glenn Davis summed this one up nicely for the home side when he said the home team was “Playing for pride, playing for jobs, playing for futures.”
- In that regard, the Union did not do enough. There’s something to be said for managing a match, obviously. But perhaps Philadelphia could play with just a little more abandon? There are times when John Hackworth’s men could add some pressure by slipping just a couple more men forward, seizing the initiative with a little more verve.
- Most of the problem was Michael Farfan’s absence (due to yellow card suspension). The Union just struggles to turn up many fresh ideas without their playmaker, so the attack looks labored and tentative. Too much possession without real purpose.
- Of course, there is a creative type around PPL Park. His name is Freddy Adu. But he must be burrowing pretty good in Hackworth’s doghouse; Adu wasn’t introduced until the 77th minute. From there? Meh.
- I wish I could boycott games refereed by Baldomero Toledo. Clearly cynical fouls that deserve yellow cards go unpunished. Sometimes awful and potentially injurious fouls, too. It drags down the quality and watchability of the contests.
- D.C. United will continue to be under pressure through the remainder of the season. So, players will either rise to the moment or sink beneath the weight of it. After watching United’s Bill Hamid struggle with three fairly routine situations in the first 30 minutes of this one, you can ask some questions about which way the young goalkeeper might go. He can clearly make the big saves; Hamid rescued two points last time out with splendid stops in the final 10 minutes of a close win over New England. But he’s got to manage all the simple stuff, too.
- Andy Najar, once again stationed at right back, certainly adds some push up D.C. United’s right side. But his one-on-one defending isn’t a strong point, and clubs will begin to take advantage. Danny Cruz, playing along the left — presumably so he could do just that — got around Najar too easily a couple of times. So they’ll need to tilt the defensive structure slightly in his direction, getting one of the holding midfielders over or the right-sided attacker back in assistance.
- Then again, sometimes United’s center backs seem stretched as it is. So, maybe Najar will just need to be on his own out there.
- When Branko Boskovic gets the ball in space, he’s dangerous, highly capable of making the pass that opens up defenses. But he wants it to be easy. He just doesn’t move enough to create that space. And he always seems to be in the wrong spot, too high up the field when he needs to drop and too far behind the play when United needs an extra attacker. So, his first half was pretty much a big bag of nothing.
- Looking for more, Ben Olsen moved his team out of the 4-2-3-1 and into a 4-4-2, relocating Pontius from the left to a forward spot alongside Pajoy. Boskovic went out to the right.
- And that last about 11 minutes. Boskovic was off in the 56th. Meanwhile, Maicon Santos’ energy helped change the game once he was in for Boskovic.
- Brandon McDonald struggled early, but as Philadelphia pressed forward and became more aggressive about pushing balls into the penalty area, United’s center back was a beast in winning everything around him in the air.
Sir Rod Stewart knows how to play to a crowd.
This proves it.
[ MORE: Wenger charged after push ]
And no, 72-year-old Stewart was not performing on stage at one of the world’s biggest venues on Sunday but he was instead conducting the draw for the fifth round of the Scottish FA Cup.
Live on Sky Sports in the UK, he was given the task of drawing out the home teams and Stewart did so in flamboyant and phenomenal fashion, especially when drawing out his beloved Glasgow Celtic.
Click play on the video below to be mesmerized by Stewart’s energy and excitement. This is brilliant.
There are some suggestions out there that he may have had a small alcoholic beverage before taking part in the draw…
Personally, I think there should be a new rule which sees Rod Stewart involved in every single cup draw from here on out.
Agree? I think you will.
Arsene Wenger has been charged with misconduct by the English Football Association.
[ MORE: New PL title odds released ]
Wenger, 66, reacted angrily to Arsenal conceding a penalty kick in second half stoppage time against Burnley on Sunday — the 10-man Gunners would go on to get a contentious spot kick off their own in the 98th minute to win 2-1 — and was sent to the stands by the officials.
He then appeared to push the fourth official and afterwards admitted he “regrets everything” and he should have “shut up and gone home” after the incident.
The FA released the following statement regarding Wenger’s charge.
Arsene Wenger has been charged for misconduct following Arsenal’s game against Burnley on Sunday [22 January 2017].
It is alleged that in or around the 92nd minute, he used abusive and/or insulting words towards the fourth official. It is further alleged that following his dismissal from the technical area, his behaviour in remaining in the tunnel area and making physical contact with the fourth official amounted to improper conduct.
He has until 6pm on 26 January 2017 to respond to the charge.
Many are calling for Wenger to be handed a very long ban for his actions.
He pushed fourth official Anthony Taylor and although it wasn’t hard enough for Taylor to fall over, it was in an aggressive manner and Wenger and the fourth official were separated by security guards in the tunnel area.
It was not the Frenchman’s finest moment and he is sure to pay a heavy price both in a fine and a potential touchline ban.
If Jose Mourinho received a one-game touchline ban for kicking a battle earlier this season, then surely Wenger has to get at least two or three games for physical contact with a match official.
The stress of a title race does funny things to even the coolest of characters.
D.C. United have completed the deal to bring Ian Harkes back to RFK Stadium.
[ MORE: Title odds in PL ]
Harkes, 21, signed for the Major League Soccer franchise Monday as a Homegrown player, fresh from winning the MAC Hermann Trophy earlier this month as the best collegiate player in the U.S. following his heroics with Wake Forest University over the past four years.
Son of former D.C. United and U.S. national team captain John Harkes, it is believed the two-way midfielder had plenty of options in Europe due to his dual nationality after he was born in England duringJohn’s playing days with Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, West Ham United and Nottingham Forest.
However, the younger Harkes has instead decided to sign for United and head coach Ben Olsen was delighted to add arguably the most talented up and coming midfielder in U.S soccer.
“I’ve known Ian nearly his entire life and have watched him develop into one of the nation’s best young talents.” Olsen said. “He has all the tools to succeed at the next level and I look forward to being a part of his pro career.”
Harkes starred for DCU’s Academy as captain of both the U-16 and U-18 level before heading to Wake Forest for his storied four-year college career and now he will return home to try and lead a D.C. side back to the latter stages of the postseason.
Olsen has endured an up and down time with United over the past seven years, but has reached the MLS Cup playoffs in four of the last five campaigns.
Adding Harkes will no doubt increase DCU’s chances of making a deep run at the postseason in 2017. He also increase their number of Homegrown players to four in their current squad.
The bookies aren’t quite calling it yet, but it’s getting to that stage…
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]
After a tumultuous weekend in the Premier League the odds on Chelsea winning the title were slashed to 2/5 odds-on by some bookmakers. Chelsea’s 15th win in their last 16 games, coupled with a draw for Manchester United, a draw between Manchester City and Tottenham, a defeat to Liverpool and a late win for Arsenal, saw things continue to stack in Antonio Conte‘s favor.
With all that in mind, below is a list of the title odds for the current top six teams in the Premier League via SkyBet in the UK.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
I don’t know about you guys but Arsenal at 9/1 seem like a very decent price considering the games they have coming up and their star players pretty much all in-form and, for now, fully fit. Maybe that’s where the value is in this market.
Would be intrigued to see who you guys would bet on, aside from Chelsea…
Chelsea – 2/5
Tottenham – 7/1
Arsenal – 9/1
Liverpool – 12/1
Manchester City – 22/1
Manchester United – 40/1