Saturday, April 4, 2009

D.C. picks up first win

D.C. United overcame some sloppy play and red card from captain Jaime Moreno moments after he entered the game to defeat the Houston Dynamo tonight, giving the squad it's first win of the season after drawing its first two contests against Los Angeles and Chicago.

With one tenth of the MLS regular season now in the books, let's break down how D.C. has looked by position.

Starter Louis Crayton missed the first two games with lingering preseason injuries so newly acquired back-up Josh Wicks stepped in. Wicks' sheer athleticism earned him one highlight reel save against Chicago, but shoddy decision-making cost him on both goals he allowed against the run of play. Crayton earned the shutout in his start against Houston and should provide the team with stability the rest of the season.

Though he has been steady for the most part, Canadian import Dejan Jakovich did get beat by Chicago's Patrick Nyarko for the Fire's only goal against United last week. Veteran Bryan Namoff has been his usual solid-if-unspetacular self while switching between left and right back. And after starting center back Greg Janicki was injured in United's first game, Marc Burch has stepped into the backline well for United.

Little changed during the offseason for United iron man Clyde Simms, who has stepped back into his customary holding midfield slot without missing a beat. U.S. World Cup vet Ben Olsen missed all but one game last season with a recurring ankle injury, so his resrugence as a pesty defensive presence in the middle of the park for United has been a pleasant surprise. Playmaker Christian Gomez converted a penalty kick against the Galaxy, though he has really yet to get going offensively. With starters Fred and Santino Quaranta relegated to the bench due to injury, rookies Rodney Wallace and Chris Pontius have filled in admirably on the flanks.

2007 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner Luciano Emilio appears to have regained the scoring touch he lost for long stretches last season, striking in each of United's last two games. On the other hand, the team's captain Moreno has not looked particularly sharp. The MLS' all-time leading scorer was off in a starting effort against Chicago and then received the aforementioned red card shortly after coming on as a sub in tonight's match. Pontius started the first match up top and scored a beautiful goal, so look for him to get major minutes at striker once Quaranta and Fred return from injury and his services are no longer need there. Francis Doe and Ange N'Silu have both logged some minutes up front for United, but neither has really impressed yet in this still very young season.

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