Tampa Bay Sports Day

DC United runs away with super-reserve match 5-3

From a game like Wednesday’s, many a cliché has been born. DC United strolled to a comfortable 4-0 lead, relaxed and let the New York Red Bulls see a bit of daylight just before half time. The 44th minute goal made the 5-3 final result possible.

That was just enough to make the remainder of the game sporadically interesting, as the Red Bulls twice came back to within two goals. The famously dangerous two-goal lead left the issue slightly in doubt for the final 30 minutes.

In the beginning, “it was embarrassing to play a team like that”, observed Santino Quaranta. “Their back line was flat. We were getting chances like we were playing in a Sunday afternoon league.” He went so far as to take off his game jersey in favor of a light jacket while warming the bench late in first half.

That optimistic response was short-lived. The by now experienced 24 year old explained, “A championship team knows that that team is gonna get a hollering at half time and come out strong. Tommy said that. I don’t think we responded the best.”

Where the midfielder/striker might have then expected to come in in the second half for a short offensive run in relief of Chris Pontius, he settled for watching Marc Burch come in to bolster United’s defense instead.

Coach Tom Soehn had expressed his desire to let the younger players he had started work through the problems of their own making. Quaranta approved, “I think it was good on his part. I’ve been a part of games like that on both sides of it and you have to finish the game out. Just the little things like staying with runners. That’s what we didn’t do tonight.”

In fact, it was the prior experiences under MLS regular season pressure of many of United’s younger starters in this game that gave them a strong edge over a similarly youthful Red Bull squad. Soehn did put out a slightly more sophisticated roster anchored by Bryan Namoff than his rival coach Juan Carlos Osorio.

The game began as a mutual comedy of errors as neither side really played coherent soccer for the first 5 minutes. DC soon hit their stride as it became clear that the Red Bulls had no real direction for the offside trap that they seemed to be playing.

It was so poorly organized that a simple run down the wing would push a defender back and place the entire central midfield into onside territory with no Red Bull defenders. The result was a series of jailbreaks which further robbed New York of much needed confidence.

The Red Bull torpor was finally broken when the very active Dane Richards put a ball from John Wolyniec into the net. Namoff was not totally surprised, “It seemed to be in character for us, one of those fluky goals.”

The glimpse of a future came just before the intermission and led to the inevitable, “Second half, we started to lose our momentum because of our pressure up top and we started to sit in a little bit and they started to counter on us”, said Namoff.

The Red Bulls had gone to a 3-5-2 formation while United lost its midfield linkage. As a result, “We didn’t string enough possession together and they started to play in our end. Any time you let a team play in your end they’re gonna create opportunities”, Namoff went on.

Soehn did bring in Rodney Walllace in the 58th minute to cover Richards and the game settled down a bit after that. That one substitution was reminiscent of the tactic used in 2007 against Justin Mapp who presented a similar fast wing threat for the Chicago Fire.

Josh Gros was often told to simply run Mapp into the ground, which he did with great regularity. Namoff observed that, “Someone as athletic as Wallace coming in kinda shut him (Richards) down and they started going at it a little bit and kinda got in his head so that was a good matchup.”

Asked about Wallace’s imitation of Gros in that regard, Namoff responded, “There are some similarities there between Josh and Wallace. I’d like to see them in a fitness match. I think Josh would take the cake.”

The demands and opportunity placed on the two draft choices, Chris Pontius and Wallace, by early veteran absences have allowed both to mature particularly quickly. DC suffered in 2008 with the unexpected loss of the energetic Gros and now has found a replacement with almost as much energy and more skill.

The contrast in ”reserve” performances in the Open Cup play in game showed just how valuable that experience has been

DC United will entertain Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening and should have a well rested squad as they seek redress for their 2-1 loss in Utah on April 11th.

Scoring Summary:

DC — Chris Pontius 1 (Christian Gomez ) 8
DC — Thabiso Khumalo 1 (Christian Gomez ) 18
DC — Brandon Barklage 1 (unassisted) 21
DC — Fred 1 (Chris Pontius ) 26
NY — Dane Richards 1 (John Wolyniec ) 44
NY — Jorge Rojas 1 (John Wolyniec ) 48
DC — Chris Pontius 2 (Fred ) 52
NY — Jorge Rojas 2 (penalty kick) 61

New York Red Bulls — Danny Cepero, Jeremy Hall, Andrew Boyens (Nick Zimmerman 46), Carlos Mendes, Danleigh Borman (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 83), Dane Richards, Juan Pietravallo (Jorge Rojas 46), Luke Sassano, Khano Smith (Kevin Goldthwaite 46), Dominic Oduro, John Wolyniec.

Substitutes Not Used: Jon Conway, Macoumba Kandji, Matthew Mbuta

D.C. United — Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff (John DiRaimondo 67), Greg Janicki, Devon McTavish, Avery John, Brandon Barklage, Christian Gomez (Andrew Jacobson 46), Fred (Rodney Wallace 58), Thabiso Khumalo, Ange N’Silu, Chris Pontius (Marc Burch 80),

Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta

D.C. United New York Red Bulls
Total shots: 12 (Chris Pontius 4) 13 (Jorge Rojas 4)
Shots on goal: 9 (Chris Pontius 3) 8 (Jorge Rojas 3)
Fouls: 12 (Greg Janicki 4) 6 (Dane Richards 2)
Offsides: 8 (Ange N’Silu 3) 0
Corner kicks: 1 (Christian Gomez 1) 6 (Danleigh Borman 3)
Saves: 5 (Josh Wicks 5) 4 (Danny Cepero 4)

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Mark Kadlecik
Referee’s Assistants: Adam Wienckowski; Jason Cullum
4th official: Jeff Gontarek
Time of game: 1:49
Attendance: 5,056
Weather: Clear -and- 74 degrees