Tampa Bay Sports Day

DC United wins first Open Cup play-in game 2-0

Using a youth-filled team against a similarly deployed FC Dallas, DC United played the most mature soccer of their 2009 season and earned a convincing 2-0 victory in the first of two US Open Cup play-in matches. Tom Soehn’s charges displayed a full appreciation of the value of width in freeing up space to perform well.

Tino Quaranta, a veteran at 24, was pleased with the mixture of talent on display, “When you have a lot of athleticism, the youth, the width is gonna be there. It was really disciplined for being a younger team.”

That discipline flows from an understanding among all the players that, “This is a really deep team. It shows. We’ve really got some good talent.” Every player interviewed noted that Soehn has emphasized his own belief that the team is competent and confident, top to bottom.

Bryan Namoff saw it at the last practice, “We were definitely really sharp the day before in training. It was great to kinda use that to keep it flowing to the next day. When you knock the ball around, you can just tell, there’s a good chemistry there.”

The team’s attitude carried forward and in the game fed on itself, “As confidence starts to build the more you are able to possess the ball”, Namoff explained. However, with youth comes a corresponding loss of perspective.

Brandon Barklage, who scored his first professional goal to seal United’s victory, provided a great deal of the energy early on only to realize that he had lost focus and position. He had the wisdom to adjust, “Once I got reins on myself, I felt a lot better.”

Dallas did a reasonable job of absorbing United’s attacks and began to assert themselves after about 30 minutes. Quaranta echoed what others had observed, “We put a lot into the first 30 minutes. I thought we lost hold of the game that last 15 minutes of the first half.”

His explanation of the loss of DC control was simple, “It dropped off toward the half with fatigue.” He noted that Soehn refocused the team in the locker room, “Then we came out in the second half and right off the get-go took the game back —– That was the talk at half-time.”

Chris Pontius, who has played well on the wing early in the season and played forward in this game, had a similar view of play, “You want to get the ball to the forwards, then to the side. That will eventually expose their defense — When you do that, you use a lot of your energy. We’ve got to manage that a little bit better.”

Barklage emphasized that the formation had a role in how the team played, “Especially with this 3-5-2, we can really expose their flanks on the weak side. With Tino or Fred or whoever we put out there, if we get them the ball they’re gonna run at the defense or put great crosses in. We try to do that a lot, switch the point of attack.”

The positive experience may well carry forward into the Eastern Conference game against the Red Bulls in New Jersey on Sunday. The team’s elders know that they must produce and have been shown the way.

It starts in practice, “Now the starting 11, every week they gotta show that they deserve it. It’s such a healthy thing for the team,” explained Andrew Jacobsen.

The rookie is fresh off foreign experience in France where he learned that, “Every player was as confident as can be.” In regard to the strong midfielders now starting for United, that means, “If I want to get on the field, I have to do what they can do. I don’t have much of an option.

“When you have such great players in the middle like Christian and Ben and Clyde and all the forwards, it’s hard not to go down the center but now we finally have great players on the width now so the other team has to pick their poison. If they want to take away the middle we’ll beat them on the outside.”

Match Facts

Scoring Summary:
DC — Fred 1 (Chris Pontius 1) 21
DC — Brandon Barklage 1 (Santino Quaranta ) 6

FC Dallas — Ray Burse, Michael Dello-Russo, George John (Aaron Pitchkolan 8), Drew Moor, Daniel Torres, Pablo Ricchetti, Alvaro Sanchez (Bruno Guarda 90), Eric Avila, Dave van den Bergh (David Ferreira 73), Jeff Cunningham (Kenny Cooper 71), Peri Marosevic,
Substitutes Not Used: Dax McCarty, Dario Sala, Blake Wagner

D.C. United — Milos Kocic, Bryan Namoff (Dejan Jakovic 62), Greg Janicki, Marc Burch, Thabiso Khumalo, Brandon Barklage, Andrew Jacobson, Devon McTavish, Fred (Rodney Wallace 61), Chris Pontius (Jaime Moreno 73), Santino Quaranta (Anthony Peters 82),
Substitutes Not Used: John DiRaimondo, Luciano Emilio, Josh Wicks

Statistical Summary:
D.C. United / FC Dallas
Total shots: 17 (Santino Quaranta 5) 11 (Drew Moor 3)
Shots on goal: 7 (Marc Burch 2,
Santino Quaranta 2) 4 (4 tied with 1)
Fouls: 14 (Andrew Jacobson 3,
Rodney Wallace 3) 12 (4 tied with 2)
Offsides: 4 (Santino Quaranta 3) 3 (Jeff Cunningham 3)
Corner kicks: 8 (Brandon Barklage 4,
Thabiso Khumalo 4) 7 (Dave van den Bergh 4)
Saves: 4 (Milos Kocic 4) 5 (Ray Burse 5)

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Jeff Gontarek
Referee’s Assistants: Jason Cullum; Matthew Kreitzer
4th official: Terrence Andrews
Time of game: 1:49
Attendance: 5,163
Weather: Cloudy -and- 55 degrees