On Tuesday night, in an otherwise listless match in El Salvador, Rodney Wallace played the best game that I've seen him play in a D.C. United shirt. Against Luis Angel Firpo, Wallace was asked to take on a central role behind Christian Gomez and next to Ben Olsen with Fred and Santino Quaranta taking the wings. Other than a bad loss of possession in the defensive third, Wallace played a solid game hustling from goal line to goal line. Although United's play has regressed as the season has drawn on, Rodney's confidence appears to be increasing with each game. His versatility (competence at fullback, winger, midfielder) makes him an even more vital member of a squad that faces a packed schedule over the next two months.
Wallace isn't the only alum of the NCAA Champions who is developing well at the professional level. Last Saturday, A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez, both of whom have become instrumental in a massively improved Galaxy side, suited up to face Barcelona (a couple of weeks after facing AC Milan). Gonzalez was solid as always, but what I took away from watching the game on television was DeLaGarza playing right back and repelling Thierry Henry's ridiculous attacks from the left flank. Henry routinely tried to test A.J. one-on-one and every time DeLaGarza was able to frustrate one of the world's greatest strikers, he got appreciably better. There is something surreal about seeing kids that we watched at Ludwig play against athletes from small North Carolina colleges line up against the Greatest Show on Earth and hold their own.
Unfortunately, this season has not been great for everyone: pity Jeremy Hall who has been condemned to Juan Carlos Osorio's horror show. Hall's season hit a new low last night when the Red Bulls were bounced from the CONCACAF Champions League by Trinidad's W Connection at home. Hall seemed, ummmm, peeved:
"It's every game. It's frustrating. I've never been on a team like this. Every game it's the same thing. I don't even know what to say anymore. You go home and you don't even want to talk to anybody. It's just frustrating,'' said rookie Jeremy Hall, afraid the loss could spell Osorio's departure. "Yeah (I am). And it hurts hearing the fans chant that. He's a guy.''