A run of bad performances meant that it was tough sledding trying to find company for a cold Wednesday night matchup with Seattle. Too bad for them.
I have no dislike for the Sounders franchise; in fact, I'm jealous of the support the city of Seattle gives for the club. They are a fun team to watch.
But I have no love for Fredy Montero. Montero's goading and cheap shots in the U.S. Open Cup Final two seasons ago triggered a moment of madness from Josh Wicks that effectively ended his MLS career and turned many of United's supporters against him (Josh seems to be doing just fine in the Finnish top flight, recording his first clean sheet in the opening league fixture and making at least one good save during the match as shown in this highlight package).
A few years ago, Montero's schtick was tolerable because of the skill he displayed on the pitch (when not throwing himself to the ground). Now his game has clearly regressed and he is unable to singularly influence matches. I don't mind watching Montero get frustrated (and Seattle lose) when he's in the lineup.
Fredy's remarkable skill at going down easily in the box earned Seattle its only goal Wednesday (and really, running in front of a center half and slowing down to draw contact only works with MLS-quality referees -- you would be better served to just try and play the ball and score), but the anti-Montero, Andy Najar, created two for D.C. United and nailed the post to threaten a third.
Najar was ridiculous. Sitting in the stands means watching a lot of passing -- some good, some bad -- with mild interest and then sitting up a bit straighter when the ball finds its way to Najar's foot. Najar commands the attention of both the audience and opposing players and this year, unlike last season, when the other team collapses down on him, Najar's outlets (Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff) have shown that they can capitalize off of Andy's hard work.
The sequence for the second goal was set up by a clever ball played by Najar to Santino, Quaranta's heads up ball back to Najar, Najar's great ball control and a deflection that put the ball directly in the path of Wolff to tee up Davies. Najar is far and away the most dangerous player in the squad and when he's creating for his teammates, United has a chance to hang with anybody if there is a competent defense behind him.
At the same time as Najar returned to DCU's starting lineup, Ethan White was back in the middle of the defense as well. Olsen adjusted the backline to move Perry Kitchen out to right back and paired White with Jakovic. The shakeup worked well against Seattle. White kept possession when the ball fell to him and was a solid, physical force in front of Hamid. He was good enough to have earned another call into the starting XI for tomorrow night's game against FC Dallas.
Yet another highlight was seeing Stephen King get in some action at the end of the match. King spelled Simms for the last ten minutes and, as far as I could tell, didn't dress down a teammate in his time on the field. The logjam of central midfielders has buried King on the depth chart, but his appearance would seem to signal that he has continued to work hard even with the odds stacked against him.