First Things First:
Apologies for the absence everybody, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks and the craziness only continues as I’ll be absent next week as well due to a trip to Paris! I’ll be back on the grind as soon as possible, but for today I found some free time and I want to sit down and process a victory that can only be described as unexpected and pleasantly surprising. In the meantime, keep on coming by to see the myriad of great posts that go up on a nearly daily basis and to hear the voice of Mr. Andres Soto, who I look forward to rejoining for a podcast appearance in the near future! With that said, let’s get to D.C. United.
Oh, and one more thing, LOOK AT THESE STATS, WHAT A MATCH!
Three Good Things:
- Poku For President: Poku was a fan favorite before he’d done anything. As his performances have continued to be at a high level, the fan support has grown, and he’s fed it with even more great performances. There is simply no way Kreis can continue to not play him, especially for Ned Grabavoy.
- Second-Half Pirlo: After a first half that was reminiscent of the Red Bulls match, Pirlo came out in the second half and looked more involved, both offensively and defensively. He was more physical, more precise, and his assist set up the eventual David Villa game-winner. At least two of our DPs aren’t disappointing.
- Defense Steps Up: With the centerback pairing that many have clamored for on the field together, Facey and Hernandez looked good and led a strong defensive performance. RJ Allen was less involved with the attack than usual, but it was good to see him back, and Angelino may have done more impressive things with the ball than anyone other than Poku himself. It’ll be a sad day in New York when he goes back to Manchester.
Three Bad Things:
- Lampard Out Again: As great as Villa has been, and as positive as Pirlo has been in his limited time, Lampard is starting to look like NYCFC’s great mistake. Constant injuries keep him off the field and his play on the field has suffered as a result. It’s bad enough that I’m beginning to think shutting him down for the rest of the year and resting him totally healthy for next season may be the way to go.
- Consistency Problems: When you beat a team like D.C. United, who came into the match leading MLS entirely, questions are raised about other performances. How can a team look so poor one match and look so good the next. Part of the issue is finding our best 11, part of the issue is chemistry. But these are expansion team woes that Orlando City face as well, and they’re things the team will grow out of moving forward.
- Set Pieces: Aside from when Villa is lined up at the top of the box for a direct kick, our set pieces are awful. It was perfectly displayed on the short corner we took where Pirlo put the ball in play to Villa, who played it back to Pirlo, only for Pirlo to be ruled offsides. That’s an embarrassing moment.
Man of the Match:
A goal, an assist, doing everything you could ever ask and more, KWADWO POKU! is now permanently capitalized in my vocabulary, and he’s your man of the match!
Josh Saunders: 6
Got caught in a rough spot on the United goal, but most of the blame rests with the defense for that one as the ball should’ve been cleared long before the attempt was made. Can’t be too harsh on the defense though, as Saunders only earned a six because he had so little to do. The biggest test he faced was the ball he came out to block in the early minutes that almost trickled in before Facey cleared it.
Allen: 6 Facey: 7 Hernandez: 6 Angelino: 7
A very nice defensive performance. Facey looked well at home back in the middle and Angelino played a huge role both offensively and defensively. The kid has a huge motor and is involved in a shocking amount of plays, the ball seems to always find its way to his feet. Hernandez looked settled with a strong partner in the middle, and RJ Allen looked solid in his return to the starting line-up. There is very little to complain about when you out-shoot the opposition 17-5.
Pirlo: 7 Diskerud: 6 Jacobson: 6 Poku: 9 McNamara: 7
I’ll save Poku for last. Diskerud and Jacobson played the weakest games, but even they were pleasantly average. The biggest complaint you can have is that they weren’t hugely impactful, but they certainly didn’t perform badly. Pirlo had a rough first half, lowlighted by the bad pass that led to United’s goal, but rebounded with a strong second half that included a beautiful pass to Villa for the eventual game-winning goal. McNamara was a workhorse as per usual, scoring the first goal on Poku’s assist after his stupidly-impressive run. Then we have the man himself. The assist to McNamara, the third goal to seal it away, and everything else he did, Poku was a monster. He bulldozed, he finessed, he did everything he could and looked better than anyone else on the field. Even Pirlo said playing with him is a pleasure. I’m simply in love with the Poku.
The captain did it again. What everyone loves about Villa is that he’s constantly pressing, constantly expecting the best out of himself and his teammates. When someone says players come to MLS to relax and retire, show them a clip of Villa working and leading and ask them if that looks like a man who is here to do anything but win. His goal on a brilliant strike in between two defenders ended up winning the game and only a player of his caliber makes that shot. Incredible.
Iraola: 6 Velasquez: N/A Mullins: N/A
It was a token appearance for Mullins, a time-wasting sub in the last minutes of the match. It was very nice to see Velasquez make his return appearance. He didn’t play long but he seemed happy to be back out there working. Iraola was on the field for nearly 40 minutes and was good. He looked about the same as Allen on defense but provided a bit more to the attacking side. The best thing from him was the energy he looked to have, he seemed rested and ready to go, and hopefully he carries that forward as he’s obviously still the starting right back.
Be sure to follow Andres at @TheAndresSoto and myself @Coltons13 on twitter for everything NYCFC Fan Podcast related and NYCFC related! If you enjoyed this, please check out my own blog, Great Balls of Fire! Let’s go, NYCFC!