Tampa Bay Sports Day

Veterans shake off rust, lead DC United to 3-1 victory

Once or twice a season the pattern of a soccer match is so obvious to everyone watching or playing that there are no great insights to be gleaned from analyzing the game’s subtleties. The 3-1 DC United victory played out in classically stereotypical fashion.

United shook off the rust of an 11 day rest period, brought on their veteran calming influence at halftime, and ran away from a Colorado Rapids team that hasn’t won at RFK in over a decade. To top it off, Christian Gomez played the role of energized returnee proving himself against the team that sought and then spurned him.

The DC franchise has a history of success with returnees. Jaime Moreno and Santino Quaranta have had similar rebirths with United. Even players who have left and come back to visit, such as Freddy Adu and Alecko Eskandarian, have remarked on the family atmosphere of the team.

When the chemistry is right, the younger players pick up on it. Rookie Chris Pontius, already an impact player, felt the value of veteran leadership, “We put in Jaime and Jaime calms everything down for us. Just having Jaime on the field, especially for me as a young man, I feel a lot more comfortable….His first ball to Christian, that was a great PK.”

Yes, he allowed that some rust was a factor, “We’ve been practicing for the past week, but it hasn’t been a game situation and we haven’t played here in a while. We just needed to settle down and we came out and did that in the second half and we started moving the ball a little better.”

Triple up Moreno’s quick and effective interplay with Gomez, the latter’s insistence on tracking down a disappearing end line ball, and the smooth play of Fred and Luciano Emilio as their rust wore off and you got the third goal that sealed the victory in minute 61.

The usually reliable Bryan Namoff also recovered from a creaky start that saw him put an own goal over a surprised Josh Wicks. What at first seemed like the mental error of failing to block a Robbie Peterson chip was seen on replay to be a classic mishit as he tried to poke the ball away. Classic rust.

The experienced defender has come forward into attack more frequently as he has matured into the most solid defender on the team and laid himself out to score on a spectacular redemptive header that put United ahead in minute 56.

The corner kick by Gomez was a classic driven ball that needed a fully laid out dive to tuck past Pablo Mastroeni who had left just over a ball’s width between himself and the near post.

Veteran Ben Olsen allowed after the game that his feet were fine but that he didn’t expect to be a factor in the next game against the Rochester Rhinos at the SoccerPlex.

Clearly, United cannot continue to rely too heavily on the aging trio of Olsen, Moreno, and Gomez as they enter a very taxing period of two per week games. As the problem of rust is replaced by a need for rest, others must step up and provide leadership.

Scoring Summary:
COL — Own Goal (Bryan Namoff) 14
DC — Jaime Moreno 6 (penalty kick) 47
DC — Bryan Namoff 1 (Christian Gomez 2) 56
DC — Luciano Emilio 6 (Fred 4, Christian Gomez 3) 61

Colorado Rapids — Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Cory Gibbs (Ty Harden 51), Scott Palguta, Julien Baudet (Jordan Harvey 72), Jacob Peterson, Mehdi Ballouchy, Omar Cummings, Pablo Mastroeni, Greg Dalby (Pat Noonan 71), Conor Casey,

Substitutes Not Used: Preston Burpo, Terry Cooke, Ross Schunk, Rob Valentino

D.C. United — Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Greg Janicki, Marc Burch, Chris Pontius, Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen, Clyde Simms (Devon McTavish 72), Fred (Rodney Wallace 68), Luciano Emilio, Thabiso Khumalo (Jaime Moreno 46),

Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Jacobson, Avery John, Milos Kocic, Ange N’Silu

D.C. United Colorado Rapids
Total shots: 14 (Luciano Emilio 4) 11 (Conor Casey 3)
Shots on goal: 8 (Luciano Emilio 4) 2 (Conor Casey 1,
Greg Dalby 1)
Fouls: 10 (Fred 2,
Ben Olsen 2) 14 (Mehdi Ballouchy 4)
Offsides: 1 (Thabiso Khumalo 1) 3 (Conor Casey 2)
Corner kicks: 4 (Christian Gomez 4) 5 (Mehdi Ballouchy 5)
Saves: 2 (Josh Wicks 2) 4 (Matt Pickens 4)

Misconduct Summary:
DC — Fred (caution; Tactical Foul) 29
COL — Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Dissent) 48
COL — Conor Casey (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 84

Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee’s Assistants: George Gansner; Claudio Badea
4th official: Andrew Chapin
Time of game: 1:52
Attendance: 18,248
Weather: Cloudy -and- 80 degrees