D.C. United had to overcome what seemed like an insurmountable deficit heading into the second leg of the Eastern Conference Finals. They also had to do it without the services of Andy Najar who was finishing up his three-match ban for throwing a ball at a referee. Oh, and the injuries, don't forget the injuries. Chris Pontius was out for the game. Brandon McDonald was in the 18, but was unable to go. Dwayne De Rosario was in the 18, but only came on for the final thirty minutes.
"Pontius would have been a question for the final... Brandon [McDonald] maybe could've played, but I wasn't using a defensive sub." Head Coach Ben Olsen said after the game.
Things were made worse when United conceded the opening goal of the game. Two goals to tie in regulation -- three to win -- was difficult enough, but a three-goal hole was too much to overcome. United were able to pull one back in the 83rd minute after some amazing skill on the ball by Branko Boskovic, and had multiple opportunities for other goals but couldn't convert en route to the 4-2 aggregate loss.
"We talked about keeping a zero [on the scoreboard], and we knew we had to score, but we had to keep them off the board," said Olsen.
Starters Match Ratings:
GK Bill Hamid - 7.5
Hamid was great and really could not have done a thing about Garcia's goal. He made a few big saves, including a save on a one-on-one chance that could have made United's hole even deeper. United will be lucky to hold on to Hamid through the winter.
DEF Robbie Russell - 7
Russell started at Right Back, but moved farther and farther up the pitch as the game wore on. He was solid going forward on Sunday, much more so than he had shown of late. He wasn't asked to do much defending, but did a decent job when he had to defend.
DEF Dejan Jakovic - 4.5
Jakovic was rough in defense Sunday night. He had a few turnovers and gave up a two-on-one situation that he was eventually bailed out of. He missed a tackle that lead to the lone Dynamo goal. Not his best performance.
DEF Emiliano Dudar - 5.5
Dudar played only slightly better than his center back partner, but he gets a full point higher because he bailed Jakovic out on that two-on-one situation. Dudar was subbed off, but looked like he still had some energy left in him.
DEF Chris Korb - 8
Korb was partially responsible for the goal, in the sense that he was standing around and not contributing to stopping the attack. Korb, however, was responsible for a few chances he created and helped create. He was a close second for man of the match.
MID Marcelo Saragosa - 4.5
Saragosa was injured, to what extent I don't know (no translator was around), and he looked injured and incapable of giving his all. Olsen didn't have a lot of options on the bench for his spot, but Saragosa probably should have been dropped given how he looked on the pitch.
MID Perry Kitchen - 7
Kitchen broke up a few Houston attacks and helped in United's attack when he could. He played a large part in the game despite a lack of stats to back it up. He looked much better than Saragosa and had to pick up a lot of the slack.
MID Nick DeLeon - 7
DeLeon was all over the pitch Sunday evening. He started on the left side, but was going all over the pitch and attacking wherever he could. He seemed to settle in on the right side in the second half and was able to attack better on that side.
MID Branko Boskovic - 8.5
He scored. He went the full ninety. He put in some beautiful balls on set pieces. He's the Man of the Match in a game that needed the creativity he was able to provide.
FWD Lionard Pajoy - 4
He was very solid for the first 25 minutes of the game. He was able to hold the ball up, and do the little things that make people say "He does the little things well." Then, over the next 20 minutes, none of those things were happening. He was onside on one play, but stopped because he -- naturally -- assumed he would have been offside.
FWD Maicon Santos - 5.5
Provided better -- and more consistent -- hold up play than Pajoy. He also added more to the attack, in the sense that he would attack. He wasn't able to get many shots on goal tonight, but he had two headers that troubled Tally Hall.
MID Lewis Neal - 5.5
Neal did a good job helping in the attack. He did, however, fail to get any of his many shots on goal.
FWD Hamdi Salihi - 4
Olsen said after the game that Salihi was rusty and had he had more game time he might have converted one of the chances he had on the evening. That seems like something Olsen would have had responsibility over. In any event, Salihi was rusty, at best.
MID/FWD Dwayne De Rosario - Incomplete
It's tough to grade De Rosario on the night. He played. He wasn't that beaten up and he held his own for thirty minutes. That in itself is a victory for the embattled former MVP. After the game De Rosario was beaten up over the season being over and was overcome with emotion that he ended his media session with tears.