Written by Chris Snear on May 19, 2013 | No Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, DC United, General, MLS, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City
There are no ridiculous moral victories in professional sports and DC United Head Coach Ben Olsen was quick to point that out after his team’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. Regardless, he was certainly encouraged by his team’s effort and a subsequent positive result, snapping a 7-game losing streak.
“Not great and I am not sugarcoating this tie but It beats losing,” said a tempered Olsen. “It wasn’t a great performance from us but it was a gutsy performance from us and it’s what we needed right now to change our course.”
Chris Pontius, who missed the last two games with a groin strain and assisted on the equalizer sugarcoated the performance even less. “Another set piece goal so no but it was better. But it’s a step in the right direction. But these steps in the right direction need to start coming out with a complete performance from us; one too many mistakes.”
Olsen trotted out another young starting XI and why not, the other more experienced groups haven’t gotten any results either.
Taylor Kemp was making his first ever MLS start, filling in for the injured Marcelo Saragosa and Nick DeLeon played the full 90-minutes after limited action in the previous two games coming off of an injury. Olsen employed DeLeon as a holding midfielder, a role he has never previously played at any level. Casey Townsend starting alongside Dwayne De Rosario up top but had no real impact on the game.
United were perhaps fortunate to even be in a situation to even draw with Kansas City, who had a 3:2 advantage in time of possession and a Ike Opara goal nullified on an off sides call that replays showed he was not in an off sides position.
Perhaps justly, it was Opara’s missed header off a corner that hit United Defender Ethan White’s left shoulder for an own goal in the 60th minute.
United drew level just five minutes later with Kyle Porter first career MLS goal, finishing a perfect Pontius cross from the left flank at the back post.
With or without the immediate equalizer, United’s response was the most encouraging aspect of the match.
While United were rarely stretched and maintained their defensive shape well, their attack was quite direct and unthreatening with no developed ideas for most the match. One of the few bright spots was Porter creating space down the right flan on quick changes that caused some confusion to the big Kansas City defenders.
“I think staying out wide, the switch was on and they didn’t know how to deal with us, me an Korby (Chris Korb) on the wing so I think we just played to it and it worked a little bit,” said Porter.
But it was Pontius who stimulated United’s attack though he was clearly a bit rusty with his touch and not fit enough to even play the 45-minutes that Olsen asked of him.
“The soccer side, there was some times where it was okay; on the counter we have to be cleaner and simpler and be more threatening,” said Olsen.
Pontius’ darting run to the top of the box and into the heart of the Kansas City defense just a minute before the tying goal was perhaps not tactically the best choice but at least it was aggressive in lieu of the hopeful long balls and back passes that plague United up to that point.
“My neck was hurting from looking at the ball going over my head all the time. They have big boys in the back and we were obviously playing into their strength,” said De Rosario. “We have players that can play. Every goal kick we are just launching the ball up and they continue to win it, it doesn’t give us a chance to breath. We need to open up in the back and let their forwards do a little bit of defending and work. We got to start playing positive and moving (the ball) forward.”
Pontius not sugarcoating anything again, “What I don’t like is that it takes us going down to kind of get going but at least we started pushing.”
“It was pretty complete from a focus stand point and commitment. Now we still tied so it’s a little strange to be too positive about a tie but that is who we are right now,” Olsen said. “I think there was a little bit of an exhale. It’s not easy to lose this many games and not have doubt. It gives them a chance to exhale and smile for a day or two and understand here is an opportunity to really change things.”
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