WASHINGTON, March 11, 2014 — What have we learned about this new D.C. United team that fielded seven new starters against the Columbus Crew in its home-opener and lost 3-0 in a bland and scrappy?
Cristian Fernandez: It’s clear the Spanish defender is capable of producing a good cross from the left flank, and he is not afraid to let lose a powerful long-range shot when he wants. He tested Crew goalie Steve Clark early in the game, which was United’s only memorable shot on goal in the whole 90 minutes. Then he found himself sucked into the middle of the field which put pressure on Nick DeLeon who was beaten on the first goal. Fernandez also wasted a good chance in the box when he failed to turn and shoot on goal.
Fabian Espindola: The Argentine striker showed a lot of energy and looks promising but overall had a frustrating night. He appears to have been given a free pass to roam the park and, at times, he was coming too far back to get the ball. Espindola could have done better on some of the chances but they were few. He also showed that he has a few ball tricks in his bag.
Sean Franklin: The former Galaxy player used his pace to make some runs down the right flank and tried to help out the offense. He found himself out of position on the Crew’s third goal.
Eddie Johnson: The U.S. team striker had little to do in the first half and came down injured in the 45th minute after colliding with Waylon Francis. For a moment it didn’t look good for United’s new Designated Player. Then Johnson stupidly tried to get payback on Francis and was lucky not to get carded. At times Johnson held the ball up well and looked sharper in the second period. He could have done better on a couple of breakaways where he failed to get past the first defender, and he wasted a great ball from substitute Lewis Neal. It will take a few games for him to get to know his teammates and coordinate his runs.
Bobby Boswell: In his first game on his return to the club he worked hard and couldn’t be blamed for the first goal. The pass was so good from Josh Williams that the Crew’s goal scorer, Jairo Arrieta, had a step on him.
Luis Silva: Probably the best player on the night sent in a lovely low cross from a free kick but there was no United to player take advantage of it. He ran himself ragged but saw little result from his runs.
Perry Kitchen: He lost his head a bit and gave up a senseless penalty kick allowing the Crew’s Federico Higuain to make it 2-0 in the 27th minute. He could have done better on the Crew’s third goal but could not catch up with Higuain, who earned his second goal on the night.
Bill Hamid: The United goalie made what could have been a serious mistake, stepping outside the box with the ball five minutes into the start of the second half and handing the Crew a dangerous free kick. Luckily for Hamid the shot was blocked by the defensive wall. He made a fine save late in the game to stop a strike from Justin Meram and couldn’t be blamed for the goals.
Davy Arnaud: United’s new holding midfielder looked comfortable and communicated well with Perry Kitchen. It will take time for him to get to know United’s system of play. Looks like a good upgrade from John Thorrington.
Nick DeLeon: He had only just recovered from a fever and didn’t have a good night. He was beaten on the first goal and was substituted in the second half.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
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