Drilling down on: at D.C. United 1, Philadelphia 1

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Man of the match: D.C. United pressed and pressed over the last 30 minutes, and did dig up an equalizer. The home team probably would have found the game-winner, too, but for the heady work by Philadelphia center back Carlos Valdes. The veteran defender provided one important tackle, shot block or clearance after another alongside Amobi Okugo (who also had a night to feel good about). There were also moments that called for reassuring composure with the ball, and Valdes had those covered, as well.

Packaged for take-away:

This one unraveled spectacularly at the end. The drama, mayhem and talking points from the last 10 minutes of a whacky afternoon at RFK simply cannot be contained in one, wee blog post. I’ll have a separate one up shortly.

(MORE: as promised, we “drill down” on the absurdity here; recapping the wacky, frenetic final 10 minutes)

  • Good things are happening for Philadelphia when holding midfielder Brian Carroll (pictured) scores his annual goal. (Well, it’s close to a once-a-year thing; He has 15 goals in 11 MLS seasons.) As NBC’s Arlo White said. “They are collectors’ items!”
  • Rising Union playmaker Michael Farfan put Sheanon Williams in beautifully in the 31st minute. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid stood his ground and made a credible save, but Williams needed to pick a corner and get that one. The ball came out to Freddy Adu, who had time to line up a shot and only Hamid to beat. Adu scuffed the effort and a dazzling opportunity to go up 2-0 on the road came and went.
  • Can we talk again about D.C. United’s choice to add another forward this week (Lionard Pajoy) via trade? He wasn’t effective Sunday, but that can’t be a big surprise, since he wasn’t effective previously at Philly.  But that’s beside the point. Another forward just doesn’t appear to be the most pressing need at RFK. As for that one …
  • There were simply too many holes in United’s back line. Dejan Jakovic played out of position on the right (he’s a center back), and was sometimes exposed there. The center backs (Brandon McDonald and Emiliano Dudar) had their wobbly moments. And there was one other problem. …
  • Considering a back line that’s not terrible, but registers as nothing special, United needed additional cover Sunday from the midfield. Perry Kitchen covers ground adequately but he’s not an amoeba. He can’t split himself and go do work for others. To wit: Wide men Nick DeLeon and Andy Najar are attack-minded. Sitting in front of Kitchen is Dwayne De Rosario, who isn’t paid to play defense. The result: Adu on the left and Danny Cruz on the right had operating space out wide for Philly.
  • Chris Pontius was easily the home team’s most dangerous man for a half. He was in on most of the best D.C. United opportunities before intermission.
  • For nearly an hour, Phiilly’s central midfield triangle (Carroll, Farfan and Michael Lahoud) in a 4-1-4-1 were impressive in their ability to hold the central areas through good positioning, creating enough chances for the visitors without their team needing to commit too many players forward.
  • Branko Boskovic’s entrance with 30 minutes remaining and United’s subsequent personnel rearrangement – Pajoy off, De Rosario to striker, Boskovic running the midfield and Najar to right back – worked splendidly. Struggling to deal with it all, Philadelphia saw very little of the ball.
  • Boskovic was simply terrific on the ball, during the run of play and on restarts. (Until he got thrown out, that is. More on that in the next PST post. It’s coming, I promise!)
  • Lahoud seemed to be trying to get himself thrown out. His fouling and antics finally caught up with Philly, although not in a red card. It was his unnecessary foul that led to Boskovic’s swell free kick, which turned into United’s equalizer.