The Black-and-Red looked nothing like the struggling group we saw in preseason. They had most of their new additions on the field at the start of the match, starting Lamar Neagle and Luciano Acosta at the forward spots. This midfield provided great pressure early on, resulting in an early strike from Neagle just five minutes into the game. With he and Acosta up top, they were able to open up the Galaxy defense early and often throughout the first half.
Ben Olsen made a change at the start of the second half, by taking Nyarko off in favor of Fabian Espindola. Little did anyone know, but the visitor’s attack wouldn’t be quite the same. The Galaxy would strike back early in the second frame, the 54th minute to be exact off a corner. Steres would beat Dykstra with a well placed header. LA appeared to take back the momentum with the score, the visitors would come ver y close to scoring off a shot from DeLeon. LA would go up 2-1 in the 65th minute off a great lob shot from Magee. There was a mixup at the back for D.C. United and Sean Franklin was left to mark two defenders and couldn’t possibly make up the ground. The home team would score twice more, the third goal coming on a penalty kick from Keane and the last being on a header from McGee in the 87th minute, which was his second of the night.
It was a convincing win for the home side, but still no reason for the visitors to hold their heads down. D.C. United looked more dangerous in this game than they did at nearly any of their high points last season. There is a very obvious difference in the pace of their attack, they now possess players that can open opposing defenses up just by getting the ball. There are definitely things to tighten up, but this team should be dangerous moving forward.
Neagle – He gives D.C. United something they haven’t quite had up front since the days of Eddie Johnson and no slight on Johnson, he seems to be a bit better on the ball. Constantly on the move, he required attention at all times. He has good size, but his quickness and pace give him the ability to separate up top and cause trouble. He did a good job when needed of being the target man when needed and facilitating upon getting the ball. He and Acosta apparently have a good working relationship this early and linked up well. When Fabi came in at the half for Nyarko and Neagle dropped back to midfield, the attack definitely changed a bit. He NEEDS to be up top for this attack to thrive.
Acosta -The diminutive 21-year old also helps open things up in the attack, he’s able to win 1v1 and did while also finding his teammates. There were a few sequences in which he turned a simple pass from the defense to midfield into an attacking opportunity by beating his man and applying pressure to the Galaxy backline. Like Nyarko, he also did a good job of tracking back and helping on defense.
Midfield pressure – Last season it was D.C. United that was struggling with opposing team’s pressure. In this match, it was them who were applying the pressure. The quartet of midfielders did a very good job pressuring the ball, often forcing LA to do something last year’s D.C. United team did, spend time moving the ball backwards rather than attacking. Sarvas and DeLeon did a very good job of marking and pushing forward, working very well together versus their last time out in which that duo didn’t look to great. The pressure allowed the Black-and-Red to control the tempo of the game.
Style of play – This new style of play will be something to keep an eye on going forward. It may not be an ideal fit for everyone on the roster or at least be something that some will have to adjust to. The ball is to be moved far quicker than it was last year, the added pace of this year’s team can only be taken advantage of if the ball is moving. That first half was excellent, while there were a couple of flashes in the second half, the attack certainly wasn’t the same.
Just 1 game – There is no reason to make too much of the fist game in a very long season. There were both positives and negatives from this game, in both halves. Still, nothing will truly be learned about this team for at least a month or two.