They did it again, rebounded from a lackluster first half to get the result. The rally was spectacular as it was the most impressive attacking display DC has put together all season. Fabian Espindola returned to the field and changed the attack as the home side went from mildly threatening to lethal. He assisted on two of the three goals and brought a spark and level of play they sorely missed in his absence.
That being said, let’s take a look at how every member of DC that played in last night’s win over the Fire. From the starting 11 to the super sub(s) that changed the game.
Andrew Dykstra – The veteran keeper stepped in for Bill Hamid and did a wonderful job, he was by far the best player for United in the first half. He had 6 saves in the game, surrendering just one goal that wasn’t really his fault. He also made a great save on a penalty kick from the Fire’s Jeff Larentowicz, then with DC leading 2-1, he made an outstanding kick save to prevent the equalizer from Chicago. GRADE: A
Steve Birnbaum – The young centre back found himself playing out wide for the very first time in his professional career due to Korb being a late scratch. While he didn’t look nearly as comfortable as he does in his normal position, he didn’t play bad. Even showing the ability to get forward a couple of times, worst moment of his night was when he got called for a handball on a Chicago cross. That led to the penalty attempt for Larentowicz. GRADE: B
Bobby Boswell – The veteran centre back was his usual self, solid in everything he did. Winning the balls in the air that came his way, did a good job taking time on the ball when pushing forward. GRADE: B+
Kofi Opare – He’s been playing lights out since he stepped on the field for Birnbaum near the start of the season. He’s the reason Boswell wasn’t given an A as a grade, Opare routinely shields free running defenders in the box away from dangerous passes so that teammates can clear the ball away or the keeper can scoop it up. Like Boswell, he also did a good job when in possession of the ball. GRADE: A
Sean Franklin – The right back didn’t have a bad game, but it also wasn’t one of his best. He and Aguilar had some trouble dealing with Chicago’s David Accam, but he did a good job when challenging Shipp and Amarikwa. Franklin also seemed to regain his touch pushing down the flanks and joining the attack. GRADE: B
Markus Halsti – The Finnish midfielder played well, going the distance in this match by playing the full 90. He was always in control and did a good job switching the field for DC. He along with Kitchen played a big role in taking Polster and Shipp out of the game, limiting their touches and crowding their space. His only gaffe, may have been a give away that led to a quality chance for Chicago. GRADE: B+
Perry Kitchen – Solid as always, he did a great job of bothering and pestering Shipp, disrupting the Fire’s play in midfield along with Halsti. He could have been more attack minded at times, but he didn’t give the ball away and seemed to be a great release option on counter attacks. GRADE: A
Nick DeLeon – He looked healthy and sharp, which means he had a quality game. In the first half, him and Halsti combined well to create a few scoring chances. He had his touch all evening long, providing great service to the box, but there weren’t runners on the end of those passes. He also did a good job coming back and being a release option on the counter attacks. GRADE: A
Miguel Aguilar – The rookie continues to be just that, he’ll show glimpses of brilliance but then look like a 1st year player at times. There were several times in which he used a few too many touches, although he tries on the defensive end, he must be more aware. It was him who let Accam sneak past him on Chicago’s lone goal, he left Aguilar and raced through the box untouched as everyone on the backline was already marked up. There was huge hustle play late in the first half when Aguilar showed grit. DeLeon played a ball from the left to the right, Aguilar gave chase, but Chiago’s Eric Gehrig appeared to have inside position. Aguilar fought him and won the ball on the touchline, creating a corner kick from virtually nothing. GRADE: C+
Jairo Arrieta – He scored two of the three goals for DC, his first half wasn’t great, but he turned it on in the second half. Once Espindola entered the game for Aguilar, Arreita took his play to the next level. Combining with Fabi up front to create havoc for Chicago’s backline. His header off of the corner kick was just brilliant. His five goals now lead the team. GRADE: A
Connor Doyle – His good play in the past couple of games was rewarded with him scoring the final goal of the evening for DC. He’s done a tremendous job of getting back to help on defense and did a much better job of getting back forward in the first half. Like Arrieta, Espindola’s presence made it much easier for Doyle to operate. He moved back to play out wide when Fabi came in and he was still productive in that role. GRADE: B+
Fabian Espindola – He played 45 minutes, the entire second half. Single handedly responsible for the change in his team that second half, he does what top players do, make it easier for everyone else. Rather than force the issue and try to create for himself, he used his ability to occupy the backs and his skill to create scoring chances for others. With Rolfe out, he played a very Rolfe like game in terms of his playmaking. No matter who he combined with, it worked and worked well. DC doesn’t have that ONE player that scares teams. Espindola is the closest thing to that guy and his team sorely missed him, especially in the attacking third. GRADE: A++
Davy Arnaud – He came in late for Jairo Arrieta, so we got to see him play up top with Espindola. In his 17 minutes, Davy did what he does. Win the ball, combine with others and get back on defense and make plays. GRADE: B+
Facundo Coria – He only played five minutes, so there’s not going to be a grade issued for him.