Out of curiosity, before I sat down to type out these player ratings, I went back and watched the highlights of all four San Jose goals and listed for the thoughts of current CSN analyst and former D.C. United head coach Thomas Rongen. Now, Rongen, in addition to being an absolute prince of a human being, has been watching this game a lot longer than I have, so I was anxious to hear his thoughts on what appeared to my relatively untrained eye to be a shocking defensive performance by the home side.
I've embedded the videos of each goal conceded below, but if you're not that much of a glutton for punishment, I've also labeled each goal with Rongen's remarks in the moment.
Goal 1--15th minute: "You cannot have a passive offside trap"
Goal 2--22nd minute: "You get punished for lack of organization"
Goal 3--49th minute: "Not great defending"
Goal 4--60th minute: "That's very indecisive"
So there you have it. The words are in plain English, the pictures are in color, and there really shouldn't be any doubt as to why I'm giving the whole backline (Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, and Daniel Woolard) as well as Bill Hamid a collective 1/5 for their performance Saturday night. Look, I know one game is not the end of the world, and there's still plenty of time for this unit to improve (though whether this dream ever comes to fruition is very much open to debate). All that said, with great promise (and a few good performances) comes great responsibility. What we saw Saturday night was well below par, and it cost D.C. United three very attainable points. Ben Olsen said it best: "If we can score two goals, we should win games." Not tonight.
On to the rest of the team.
Fred--1/5: OK, so the backline wasn't completely responsible for United's demise Saturday. On the whole, United's central midfield pairing was very disappointing as well. Both Fred and Simms struggled to contain Khari Stephenson and the eponymous Steven Lenhart, often giving the ball away in possession, struggling to get it back, and failing to close down on the Earthquakes' attacking midfielders. Despite showing some good possession instincts in the lead-up to Andy Najar's goal, Simms set the overall tone for the match in the very first minute by allowing himself to be pickpocketed by Lenhart, whose speculative shot had to be tipped over the bar by Hamid.
Andy Najar--4/5: United's best player by a mile celebrated his own bobblehead night by finishing the most beautiful goal of D.C. United's season. Pictures will suffice.
It's just a shame United couldn't get the ball to him more often.
Chris Pontius--3/5: Looked threatening on the left wing, but really should have done better with the opportunities be got against the underwhelming Beitashour and Ampaipitakwong.
Blake Brettschneider--2/5: Good finish on his goal, but it would have been a much different game if he had stayed on his feet to meet Josh Wolff's cross in the 55th minute (go to the 6:21 mark of this video). If he stays on his feet, he likely gets to the ball sooner and equalizes. As it happened, he slid, got their late, and the ball rolled harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Josh Wolff--3/5: He gets this grade mostly for the exquisite pass on Najar's goal. Was the apex of his very good attacking night.
Charlie Davies (on for Brettschneider, 62nd minute)--N/A
Brandon Barklage (on for Korb, 68th minute)--N/A
Dax McCarty (on for Woolard, 78th minute)--N/A
Let's be honest here, they might as well have stopped playing once Lenhart's third goal went in to make the score 4-2. At that point, Davies was preparing to come on, as United still had hope of getting some thing from the match. But San Jose's fourth goal took the wind out of the team's sails, and it's doubtful that any number of subs, let alone the three chosen, could have provided United with any fresh impetus. So all three subs get incomplete grades.