I truly feared a disastrous result - not just a loss, but an embarassing result - and if the tie is disappointing, still, DCU did not implode. There were signs that they could (I'll get to the refereeing), but United came out urgent and focused. If the regulars had played and that team had played with the go that last night's played, they'd have won this game easily.
Forced by MLS rules to start an alliterative line-up if three starters are out for disciple, Nowak chose Dyachenko and deRoux and Donnet, and all three played admirably. No doubt many are going to wonder where deRoux has been and why he hasn't been on the field and why now he needs his minutes, and I confess he won my heart by two runs into the box early in the game and actually SHOOTING THE BALL. He was out of gas by halftime, but perhaps he's earned himself some second-half substitution time when his speed on the wings against a tired defense might spring a goal. Dyachenko's going to be good. He still stands too long over the ball, completely forgivable considering his inexperience. Donnet made some beautiful touches, but he's still learning the offense and his teammates. I'd wish DCU had worked the ball over to his side more to give him more touches - he had acres of space on the right - and he was gassed at 60, but I like what I've seen. Moreno and Adu up top, Gros, Gomez, Donnet next line, then Carroll and Olsen? That could work. Better than Eskandarian or Walker up top next to Moreno.
The refereeing: Look, MLS referees suck. Besides the alliteration rule, Real Salt Lake got a special dispensation that allowed them to use their arms to handle the ball last night. It happens. MLS referees have always sucked, but that doesn't mean that DCU needs to amass multiple yellow cards for dissent in every game. Benny, I love you, I wear your shirt, you worked your ass off, but please, I'm begging you, STFU. Brandon, nice to have you back, you played well, and yes, Jeff Cunningham is a diving pab, but STFU. All the barking and whining, it's starting to remind me of the last Stoitchkov year (which didn't end well). MLS refs suck. DEAL with it. If you're thinking about the ref you're not thinking about the opponent. STFU and play. And if refs come in expecting United to bitch, they're going to pull out those yellows earlier and for less bitch. STFU and play.
THIS is the week we find out about United. Wednesday night (NO TELEVISION, NOT EVEN MLS LIVE?!?!?!?) at New England then Sunday at Chicago. It'd have been nice to win last night, but any sweeping evaluation of the team means nothing until NEXT Monday. All could be settled, all could be unsettled.