Tampa Bay Sports Day

DC duo do in Seattle 2-1

All sports share two elements, physical commitment and intelligent play. The team that plays hard and smart usually prevails. DC United coach Ben Olsen was a tough and wily practitioner as a player and his team showed how those attributes work synergistically last night.

The coach summed it up, “Andy (Najar’s) final ball was fantastic, and it was great that Josh (Wolff) gave Charlie (Davies) one, and then Charlie gave Josh one, right on the spot. They both did a great job.

“Charlie was more physical than what he’s been since he’s come back, and I think that is a big step for him. Wolff worked really hard and held the ball up; he was a handful all night long.”

The former, who continues his recovery from serious injuries, echoed his mentor’s emphasis, “Coach Olsen has really been harping on me to be more physical and hold the ball up, and today I took a big step toward being that force up top where I can not only make runs, but hold the ball up for the team.”

His first goal in the run of play this year had featured a clever application of pressure to Chad Marshall and a sudden release which sent the Columbus defender to the ground. He used a similar move to twist around his Seattle marker on Wednesday to set up Wolff’s goal.

Asked about this application of judo-like balance, he explained it as the product of, “Four years of wrestling – In wrestling balance is a big thing…Not only that, but the mental toughness part. Wrestling is a sport where you’ve got to be really agile and have a lot of balance. That’s really helped me as far as making runs and being able to throw defenders off.”

Both he and Wolff share US National Team experience with Olsen. The strikers also share speed, both physical and mental. While the classic striking combination features a powerful and large player paired with a quick one, this tandem presents a unique danger with speed the main feature.

As Davies states it, “After tonight I think everyone knows ‘Hey, Charlie and Wolffie, you gotta watch out for both of them and we’re only gonna grow as a pair. I think it can be something special.” The pair has worked on cooperation over the past month and especially last week.

On a similar note, winger Chris Pontius has paid attention to positioning and movement on the field and advanced his own insight into United’s effective wing play, “Seattle’s midfielders tend to move inside. If can get the ball wide I can take on (James) Riley one on one.”

Seattle was confronted with an aggressive Najar on one side and usually chose to double mark him quickly. Pontius’ wide play opposite him forced the Sounders to either mark him and leave the middle less covered or allow him space to do just what he did in taking on Riley.

The emphasis on wide attacking play allowed United to slide Dax McCarty more into a defensive posture in which he and Clyde Simms were somewhat flatter with either player advancing as space opened up. Seattle’s tendency to play centrally, which Pontius noticed, did keep the center mids in a more protective mode most of the game, but allowed the two brilliant Najar passes to set up the winning goals.

The team continues to grow and learn, but still gave up many opportunities which the Sounders frittered away. The maturation process will continue on Saturday when FC Dallas comes to RFK at 7:30 PM.

Scoring Summary:
DC — Josh Wolff 2 (Charlie Davies 1, Andy Najar 1) 31
DC — Charlie Davies 6 (Josh Wolff 1, Andy Najar 2) 52
SEA — Brad Evans 4 (penalty kick) 71

Misconduct Summary:
DC — Ethan White (caution; Reckless Tackle) 13
DC — Charlie Davies (caution; Tactical Foul) 35
SEA — Nate Jaqua (caution; Reckless Foul) 55

Lineups:

Seattle Sounders — Kasey Keller, James Riley (Mauro Rosales 59), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyson Wahl, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Fredy Montero, Alvaro Fernandez (Leo Gonzalez 76), Nate Jaqua (Roger Levesque 64).
Substitutes Not Used: Servando Carrasco, Mike Fucito, Jeff Parke, Terry Boss.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard, Andy Najar (Fred 77), Dax McCarty, Clyde Simms (Stephen King 82), Chris Pontius (Santino Quaranta 49), Charlie Davies, Josh Wolff.
Substitutes Not Used: Blake Brettschneider, Chris Korb, Joseph Ngwenya, Steve Cronin.

Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee’s Assistants: Bill Dittmar; Paul Scott
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Time of Game: 1:50

Weather: Partly Cloudy and 52 degrees
Attendance: 11,254
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistants: Bill Dittmar, Paul Scott
4th official: Daniel Fitzgerald

Attendance: 11,254