Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann, Mike Ehrmann | Credit: Getty Images
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Through two games at the MLS is Back tournament, D.C. United has yet to win a game. They’ve also yet to lose a game as they’ve drew both matches, the first against Toronto and the second last night against New England.
In the 2-2 draw with Toronto, the Black-and-Red went down 2-0 and lost a man in the first half. The group of subs in the second half really gave D.C. United life. One of the main reasons was the mindset and the pace they brought. Instead of being on the back foot, they were the aggressor and things worked out for them in the end. Higuain scored and then six minutes later, Brillant provided the equalizer off a set piece.
In last night’s match with New England, the Black-and-Red didn’t really start playing until they surrendered their first goal. Once Buksa scored, D.C. United started to play a bit more loose and were definitely more assertive. One of the differences in this match was having Oneil Fisher at right back versus Russell Canouse. Fisher is way more forward thinking as a full back, he joins in the attack and provides pace that has to be respected on the flank he occupies. With Moreno suspended, Canouse got to play his more natural in the middle of the park. Similar to the first match, Higauin came in and made something happen, this time providing the equalizer.
Olsen said last night that the second half of the match against New England was the first time his group played “the way we want to play” in the tournament. That said, Kamara’s presence was certainly missed as Sorga or anyone else currently on the roster can’t give them what he can. A target up front for hold up play and a weapon in the air.
Something else to keep an eye on is how Edison Flores and Julian Gressel find their comfort level playing with this group. Yamil Asad did a great job of moving around the field yesterday in the hopes of jumpstarting attacks, coming out from the wing in the the middle of the field at times to try and open things up. Flores also had a couple of moments where he succeeded in this, showing what he can do with the ball at his feet. Gressel started to find his way into the match late as well. Those two may need to take a page from Asad and become interchangeable in that regard. Come back, get the ball and make something happen from there.
It’s something that Rooney and Acosta did at times, it gave them more touches and allowed them to survey the field and distribute the ball as needed.
It’s only two games, but the trend of starting slow has to end if D.C. United wishes to make noise in this tournament. Next up they’ll face the Montreal Impact on Tuesday.