The last home opener in RFK, in front of a crowd of 18,268 D.C. United hosted Sporting Kansas City. As predicted by Head Coach Ben Olsen earlier in the week, there was a bit of sloppy play and neither team looked to be operating on full cylinders. Still, the home side had several chances and couldn’t capitalize on them. Sporting Kansas City dominated possession 60% to 39.5%, but it was a bit misleading. While they had the ball more, they didn’t create many dangerous chances. The two teams played to a scoreless draw and start the year with one point each.
The absence of Luciano Acosta was felt most on counter attacks. His poise on the ball, vision, and ability to spring a teammate into open space with a pass would have definitely helped an attack that didn’t fully seem connected.
Marcelo Sarvas had an opportunity in the 15th minute on a penalty kick that was drawn by Julian Büscher, his attempt was parried by Sporting Kansas City keeper Tim Meila. The home side would again get quality chances in the second half off a corner kick from Lloyd Sam. He played the ball into the box in the 65th minute and D.C. United had not one, but two headers cleared off the line by Sporting Kansas City defenders.
As for the visitors, their best chance may have been in the game’s first 12 minutes off a set piece. Benny Feilhaber sent a rocket of a shot to Bill Hamid’s right and the keeper made a big time save. It was a good showing from D.C. United’s backline and while it wasn’t great on the attacking side, they have to be encouraged by the chances they were able to create minus Acosta.
Back Line. The “new” back four, after getting work in preseason looked good in their first regular season game. Nick DeLeon looked comfortable in his new home at right back, he dabbled between there and midfield last season. Sean Franklin moved inside to centre back next to Steve Birnbaum and the duo worked well together. They avoided those situations last year when forwards were able to split the two and get point blank shots on goal. Taylor Kemp was his usual self holding things down at left back, they had a couple of miscommunications, but nothing remotely serious. Definitely a good showing as was evident by the clean sheet.
Bill Hamid. He was tested early on that set piece by Feilhaber and it was great to see him explode from a stand still to make that sprawling save. His explosiveness was there, while he didn’t have to use it much today due to the job the backline did, it was good to see that he’s in form. Bill also did a great job from a positioning standpoint, killing angles to shots for easy saves. For anyone who had doubt about the progress of his rehab, he’s fine.
Midfield. Specifically in the middle, the combination of Jared Jeffrey, Julian Büscher, and Marcelo Sarvas didn’t have the greatest of games. Julian looked good early and seemed to get “fatigued” as stated by Ben Olsen. Jeffrey was active and Sarvas didn’t look like himself at times. On most challenges just a bit late and sometimes on the attack stayed on the ball just a tick too long.
Patrick Nyarko. The winger looked to be in midseason form in the season opener. He created trouble for the visitors in 1v1 situations, beating his man and putting pressure on the back line when he wasn’t drawing fouls. A great showing for the vet on opening night.