DC United kicked off the 2018 season on the road (a phrase that will be used A LOT to start this season) in Orlando. With an overhauled and much younger roster the Black and Red managed to get a point to kick off what is virtually a 14 game road trip (2 “home” games in Maryland don’t count). There were some positives but in the end I’m sure Ben is upset at squandering a golden chance at 3 points. With Atlanta United up next, hopefully DC can get another positive road result and breath some serious optimism into this season.
New Beginnings… – 7 new to DC players started this match (Ousted, Brillant, Fisher, Moreno, Segura, Asad, and Mattocks) and an eighth (Durkin) made his debut as a sub. Things looked promising from the start with the higher energy level than in years past coinciding with the decreased overall age of the starting 11. Asad marked his debut with a goal and Brillant had the other DC highlight, clearing a goal off the line. Despite having so many new pieces communication didn’t seem to be a huge issue but…
…Previous year’s demons return – … down the stretch this group showed it still has a lot to learn. Up a man and a goal for 50 minutes and only emerging with a point is simply not good enough at a professional level. Hunkering back deep into our own half allowed Orlando to build pressure and crash wave after wave of attack against our goal, finally breaking through in stoppage time. There was also a worrying return of a completely anemic attack. Mattocks all on his own had a penalty saved, fouled up a break away, one on one chance, and just all in all looked active but completely ineffective when it came to the final product. Mullins came on and looked even worse. He failed to hold the ball in the corner in stoppage time, instead electing to send in a horrid cross. Orlando, presented with the chance to put together a final attack, punished the black and red.
Mixed bag of defense – Ahead of the season, all the analysts continually harped on DC’s defense. They may have showed better than some predicted but there is still clearly a ways to go. Oniel Fisher really didn’t look like he had ever played defense before in his life. Brillant on the other hand cleared a goal off the line and even looked dangerous attacking corners in the opponents end. Birnbaum was fairly steady. DeLeon had some good moments, but wasn’t afraid to mimic his new Jamaican teammate’s ineptitude. News of an incoming left back from Costa Rica could be a huge boost to this unit.
Player Ratings: (1-10 Scale)
Ousted: 5 – It’s hard to compare him to Hamid who built himself into a legend in black and red but you have to think the former number 1 might have found a way to preserve the clean sheet. On the flip side it’s hard to fault him for his debut as he generally took good angles and seemed to have all real opportunities stopped.
Fisher: 2 – Despite skewering the Jamaican left back above, I felt he showed some promise going forward which earned him the 2. He looked to have some good attacking combinations with Asad when he overlapped with the midfield. Unfortunately he’s getting paid to defend and at times we would’ve been served better putting a stationary practice dummy on the corner of the box. The goal also came down his side.
Brillant: 6 – Easily the stand out of the defense. Put in a performance reminiscent of Bobby Boswell a couple years ago. Looked to be getting very vocal with his teammates. Could develop into a captain over the course of the season.
Birnbaum: 5 – Tentatively looks like he’s putting last season’s horrors away. Didn’t do anything to really stand out but did manage to partner pretty well with Brillant, not allowing many chances across the full 90 minutes.
DeLeon: 4 – Showed some good defensive positioning and strength in the first half. Badly faded down the stretch. For somebody who seems to pretty much be locked in as an every game starter at right back he’ll need to develop a lot more consistency very very quickly.
Moreno: 4 – Was alright. Generally did a good job shielding the back line but couldn’t keep possession often enough. Failed to help pick up Pinho on the equalizer.
Asad: 6 – Marked his debut with a (somewhat fortunate) goal. Early returns indicating he will repay DC’s investment in the former Atlanta star. It will be very exciting to see if he and Acosta can link of with Arriola and Mattocks to develop a seriously deadly attack.
Segura: 4 – Similar to Moreno. Buzzed around but faded and simply couldn’t hold possession. Was shifted wide later in the game and didn’t seem to grasp all his responsibilities. Allowed Spector to bomb up the wing in stoppage time and deliver the winning cross. Not a very good way to end your debut.
Stieber: 5 – Decent day as he wasn’t really caught on the ball much. But couldn’t help us keep possession down the stretch and didn’t really get any kind of chemistry with Mattocks. Had one decent crack from distance in the second half but otherwise was pretty ineffective. Should fall to the bench with Acosta returning from suspension next weekend.
Arriola: 5 – Gave exactly what we’ve come to expect from the speedster. Lots of pace. Lots of tenacity. Not always there when it comes to the final ball.
Mattocks: 4 – This may be a bit high for the former Timber and Whitecap. However, I was impressed with his energy, high press, and ability to hold the ball up. I was not expecting him to display the strength necessary to bring teammates into play when we lump the ball forward but he actually did an excellent job for the most part. If it wasn’t for missing a PK and dallying on the ball to long during a second half break-away we’d be looking at a grade near 9 or 10. Unfortunately for him he’s here to score goals and blew his 2 best opportunities. Hopefully he’ll find a more clinical edge in the coming games.
Harkes: 4 – pretty much identical to Moreno. Sat in and helped stem the tide momentarily but couldn’t complete the task. Never really could grasp an extended period on the ball or find outlets (which is only partially his fault) to help salt the game away.
Durkin: 1 – If I hadn’t seen him come on the field I wouldn’t have known he came on. As a supposed stand out d-mid brought on to protect a lead late on, the teen failed to make an impact.
Mullins: 1 – As discussed above, I was more frustrated with Mullins for not taking the ball to the corner when blatantly given the opportunity, in turn providing Orland another attack chance in stoppage time, than Moreno or Segura for their poor marking. He looked slow and clumsy. I’m beginning to wonder who was playing under his name over those last couple months in 2016 when we had a “Patrick Mullins” that looked like the next Robbie Keane.
Chad Ashton: 4 – In for the suspended Ben Olsen on the touchline, he did a decent job. Said all the right things at halftime and honestly made all the substitutions I would have made. Unfortunately he couldn’t get the team to see out the result which would’ve provided an absolutely monumental 3 points to kick start the long road trip.
Despite the disappointing start to the year, we visit Atlanta next in the United Darby. Last year we proved that the OG United was far superior (at least head to head). Let’s continue that trend and grab a full 3 points this time.