On the way out of RFK last night, a father says to his son: "D.C. United won! Did you have a good time?" The kid replies: "I guess. Nothing really happened. It was boring."
The club is going to ridiculous lengths to enhance fan experience -- including having representatives stand by the exits to thank supporters personally for coming out -- without having an on-field product that will build the next generation of season ticket holders.
United won. They controlled large portions of the match and bottled up Real Salt Lake. When needed, Bill Hamid was clutch, making at least one unreal reaction save to preserve the shutout. Dejan Jakovic was terrific, putting in one of the most solid shifts I've seen him play in a United uniform. The young Panamanian, Marcos Sanchez, was fun to watch with some creative flourish and quick turns. And Nick DeLeon was run into the ground but still managed to play a great ball forward very late in the match.
I should focus on the positives. It was a fun night out. 17,000 plus saw United earn three points. United's staff is great. I'm glad I went.
But a moment on the scorer of the game-winning goal: Lionard Pajoy is being described as the polarizing figure on United's roster. I can't imagine that he will be more polarizing than Carlos Ruiz, but Pajoy is unlikely to become a fan favorite even if he scores a dozen or so goals this season. Pajoy's yellow card in the 28th minute was fully deserved for a dirty, entirely unnecessary kick at Kwame Watson-Siriboe. And the caution failed to prevent Pajoy from chirping endlessly at Sorin Stoica for the rest of the half every time a call didn't go his way. It is not exactly a privilege to have to cheer for a player that underscores the worst of Bennie bite ball.
The best sequence of the match came late in the second half when Marcelo Saragosa, subbed on for an injured John Thorrington, received the ball fifteen or so yards from midfield, watched his teammates launch forward, and dribbled backwards toward four RSL players so as to make a bizarre back pass to Hamid that left little room for error. That one pass would have erased roughly eighty minutes of conservative, sleep inducing soccer.
Still, maybe everything changes when Dwayne DeRosario is back in the lineup. I watched DeRo for a bit this afternoon at Ludwig and he's ready to step right back in.
In terms of soccer, the scrimmage today with Maryland was more compelling than the home opener last night.
Patrick Mullins can more than hold his own against professionals, showing once again that he's ready whenever he wants to make the jump.
Mullins saw several familiar faces in the DC United side, with Casey Townsend getting time up top and Ethan White anchoring the back line (along with Daniel Woolard, Henry Kalungi, and Robbie Russell). After Russell pulled himself out of the game with a leg injury, he was spelled by another Maryland alum, Alex Lee.
I had hoped to have seen the last of Kurt Morsink chewing out teammates for perceived failings after Kurt retired but, alas, Morsink played alongside Conor Shanosky in the midfield. True to form, late in the scrimmage, Morsink lit into Ethan for something that neither I nor Mr. White appeared to think had been a mistake. Kurt continued to press the point, whatever it was, after the final whistle. The more things change, the more they stay the same.