The Black-and-Red suffered a very ugly loss early this season in New York, it’s clear that result was fresh in their minds as they faced New York City FC yesterday at RFK.
D.C. United once again lost the possession battle, which may be something that supporters need to accept this season. They did a good job of absorbing their opponents pressure for much of the match, then striking off counters. The first half resulted in just one shot being put on frame for both teams, although the home side looked a bit shaky for the last 17-20 minutes of the first half.
In front of a crowd of 18,855 the action definitely picked up in the second half. It was a fun battle to watch in midfield. There was the experience of NYC FC in Andrea Pirlo, Alexander Ring, and Maximilano Moralez against the youthful trio in central midfield of Jared Jeffrey, Ian Harkes, and Luciano Acosata that are flanked by veterans Patrick Nyarko and Lloyd Sam.
Lloyd Sam broke the scoreless tie in the 52nd minute with pure hustle, in his words ” “I was thinking, let me just run this down and see what happens.” He put pressure on an errant back pass between two defenders and won the ball, the veteran then quickly got of a shot before the charging Sean Johnson could block it.
As expected, New York didn’t sit back after surrendering the goal to D.C. United. In the first half they initiated most of their attack from central midfield. That would change as the Black-and-Red adjusted to it, the success for New York was found out wide and those players were able to provide service into the box. Bobby Boswell, Steven Birnbuam, Taylor Kemp, and Nick DeLeon held up firm for most of the half.
Acosta had a huge day for the home side and he scored his second goal in as many games in the 73rd minute. The dynamic playmaker won a 1v2 situation outside of the box before laying the ball out to a running Sam. Lloyd didn’t hesitate (which was an issue last week for D.C. United) and put a shot on frame, Johnson was able to parry the ball, but not corral it. The ball popped up and Lucho beat a defender to it and placed it past Johnson into the near post.
It wouldn’t be a D.C. United win without some heroics from Bill Hamid. The Black-and-Red would surrender a goal in the 83rd minute to the one and only David Villa, which came courtesy of a well placed cross from Thomas McNamara. Bill had a sequence a few minutes earlier in which he blocked a shot from the right of the box, forcing a rebound opportunity for New York, but he quickly smothered the follow up attempt from the other side.
“It’s important, now that we have confidence going in. We just have to keep winning, keep being confident and just keep up that attitude.” – Luciano Acosta on upcoming road trip
It was a solid win for a D.C. United team that is trying to get their legs under them, they’ve won their last two games at home. Which is definitely a positive since they’ll be on the road for the next three weeks, starting next week in New York when they face Lloyd Sam’s former club, the Red Bulls.
Jeffrey. While he’s not as savvy as Marcelo, he brings more athleticism to the position. That’s not a knock but just a bit of reality, Jared is a bit younger and has the legs for it. Their motor is very similar and as Ben Olsen said post game, this was one of Jared’s better games.
Acosta-Harkes. This duo continues to grow, they have different styles of play, but compliment eachother very well. What they do have in common is the ability to find others and make those decisions quickly when on the ball. They are able to switch the field of play with their passes and that puts pressure on opposing back lines. Lucho was a warrior all game long, physical when on the ball and in pursuit of it. They both, along with Jeffery held up will in physical challenges in midfield. Acosta set the table for Harkes late in the game, but Ian wasn’t able to get the best of shots off, but that sequence was just an example of that relationship they are building in midfield.
Boswell. The veteran deserves credit for taking his benching at the start of the season with class, he’s since been reinserted to the starting 11. His presence and knowledge of the game makes up for some of the things he may lack physically. His presence is a welcome sight on the back line of the Black-and-Red, definitely a calming influence for the group. Outside of that one sequence in which Villa scored, he and Birnbaum did a good job marking the world class forward.
DeLeon. The starter as right back has definitely gotten more comfortable with each passing game, his ability as a former midfielder to stay on the ball only helps on the counter attack. He’s also become somewhat of a pressure reliever as well, he doesn’t have to immediately clear the ball as some defenders do. He’s able to beat that attacker and push up field, which puts added stress on opposing teams. It’s good to see him grow in that role.
Sharper. They’re not quite there yet, but this was definitely another step in the right direction for D.C. United. They looked comfortable on the ball and made much better decisions when moving it in the counter attack. They can still clean some things up in the final third, but there’s certainly time for that to come together. They can’t afford to regress on this upcoming stretch of road games.