DC 5 (6) - (1) 0 Harbour View FC
Ah, the difference a pitch can make.
Recap, quick and dirty:
United came out strong by penetrating the flanks and cutting inside. McTavish capitalized on some poor defending from a Gallardo freekick in the 26th. HVFC struggled to respond.
DC resumed dominance in the second half as Harbour View's attempt at an offsides trap fails miserably. Fred completed a backheel connection from the touchline to Emilio on the six, who finishes clean; from that cheeky touch a beautiful relationship is born. Quaranta came on for Niell in the 64th. The offsides trap failed four more times. Harbour View managed a handful of shots from outside the box, none of which threaten the net.
DC will face the winner of Thursday's Pachuca/Montagua match with a huge boost of confidence.
The big story here is United's clean sheet. There were no goals due to communication errors, to goalkeeping howlers, to poor positioning, to tactical misalignment, to anything; there were no goals period. Defensive cohesiveness must have been Soehn's big preseason project and it is beautiful. Beautifully surprising, even: where the hell did Martinez come from, getting forward like that? I thought he was going to have a shot for a second there. He seemed stunned with himself.
You know what else is beautiful? Watching our boys rediscover attacking football again. I was euphoric from the 60th to right around the 75th. Now, if you were to tell me that the scoreline exaggerates the goodness of United's attack and is really more of an indication of the badness of Harbour View's defense, I would agree. But take a closer look: Fred dominated the left flank on the dribble and provided service for two goals. Emilio looked every bit the CONCACAF veteran with his well-timed runs, scoring a brace. Even Quaranta provided two goals on the day; now when the hell has that happened for anyone, let alone DC?
United are finding their feet again and are rediscovering the basics of attacking soccer, thanks in no small part to Gallardo. You can already see his influence on United's method of attack: United are finding ways to make the most of their touches in the middle third, diffusing pressure and positioning well. Those hopelessly optimistic balls over the center of the pitch are being phased out in favor of shorter, more penetrating balls into space on the flanks. Gone are the telegraphed passes out of the back to the one man making a run; each movement up the field has two, three, sometimes even four options. Finally Soehn & Co. will have the opportunity to emphasize finishing, rather than providing, opportunities in the box.
The result tonight might be overwhelmingly positive, but it is positive nonetheless, and certainly more righteous compared to the last time DCU played at RFK. Well done, boys.
- I do have a small concern about Gallardo: in his role as coordinator of the attack, sometimes he goes so far as to make and offensive movement's first pass out of the back. He was side by side with Simms in front of the back four on more than one occasion. If he's busy making passes out of the back, how can he get himself in the perfect position to provide service into the box? Let Simms do his job. He's not that bad.
- I don't want to admit it, but after tonight I think I have to: McTavish is probably our best option on the right wing until Olsen recovers. I'm not saying this because of his goals (he's the consummate opportunist) but because neither Dyachenko nor Mediate showed up any better.
- It's good to see 'Tino get some minutes. His touch and service are almost on par with Fred's. I'd like to see him on the right wing instead of McTavish but Soehn seems to want him as an option up top, and with Jaime still recovering, that's probably wise.
- Wells has my full support. He has no jump but his technique and communication are excellent. Peralta and Martinez know exactly what to expect from him and he them. Another indication, I think, of Soehn's preseason success.
- Miles and Caligiuri seemed to hit their stride just as DC seemed to hit theirs. Miles is kind of smug and Caligiuri seems a bit out of place in the booth, but they certainly performed better than in Jamaica. That said, I'm glad they're not with Comcast.