D.C. United struggled for much of the match Saturday night, and would have been lucky for the evening to end in a scoreless draw, but Sporting Kansas City scored in the 93rd minute to steal all three points. Sporting Kansas City earned all three of those points, though, as they thoroughly dominated possession and created the majority of the chances on the night. Honestly, it would have been a shame for them to walk away with a single point.
It was the first game of the season, and obviously a lot of rust must be shaken off by United for them to earn points against some of the top teams in the league. Manager Ben Olsen wasn't in the mood for making excuses post-game, but said "We were a little rusty, and I thought physically and mentally, they were certainly the better team."
With that in mind, I'll preface the match ratings by saying that I know the team will improve from week-to-week, but this week's ratings will be lower than normal. Ratings calculated on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest, 5 being average, and 10 the highest), and points can be in halves.
GK Bill Hamid - 8 (Man of the Match)
Hamid was the only reason United were in the game in the first place. He controlled the box, and made two outstanding saves. He did struggle to control the ball, and fumbled two saves -- one nearly resulted in a goal, but Sporting could not capitalize. On the last-second goal, Hamid had no chance at making a save, and someone should have been on the far post to stop that goal, but no one was.
D Robbie Russell - 6.5
Russell was easily the best defender on the pitch for United, and possibly the best outfield player. His marking was better than his counterparts on the back line, and he played a beautiful ball in to Hamdi Salihi in the 57th minute that was headed wide.
D Dejan Jakovic - 4.5
Jackovic really struggled in the early going and gave away more than his fair share of passes on the night. While his passes were lacking, he did a decent job defending and marking. A disappointing performance.
D Brandon McDonald - 4
Really didn't see a whole lot positive from McDonald on the night. He had a few successful long balls early, but then fell in love with going over the top and really struggled connecting on any. Had a call or two that easily could have been a yellow card on him.
D Daniel Woolard - 4
Seemed to disappear in the second half, but given how his first half went, that might have been a good thing. His throw-ins were poor and he was beat on a few balls -- notably Kei Kamara's shot in the 35th minute that just curled wide. Woolard was applauded by Hamid for his marking on Kamara's header saying "If Danny wasn't there, Kamara could have gotten more power on the header and would have scored."
M Andy Najar - 5.5
You have to take the good with the bad with Najar tonight. If only because he was at least trying to create for his teammates. His crossing was sub-par, and he didn't make a lot of runs with the ball, but when he had the ball he was looking to attack. With a stagnant offense, he was one of the bright spots.
M Branko Boskovic - 2.5
There really wasn't anything positive about Boskovic's performance tonight. He was subbed off in the 66th minute for Josh Wolff. He picked up a yellow for a sloppy tackle, and passed up a relatively open shot in the 22nd minute. The two journalists here from Belgrade to cover him were tossed from the Press Area during the pre-game festivities for drinking in the press box and cheering for him during introductions. All around a bad night for Belgrade.
M Perry Kitchen - 5
Kitchen was frustrated all night, and maybe that had something to do with how poorly Boskovic was playing next to him. Kitchen was trying to direct traffic, but it looked like the rust from not working with a few of the guys was causing miscommunications. His passing was average, but he tracked back well. Overall, I think this performance will leave a bitter taste in his mouth as he leaves for Olympic Qualifying.
M Chris Pontius - 6
Pontius was the best outfield player on the pitch in the first half, but disappeared slightly in the second. He had United's best chance of the game in the 39th minute -- a give-and-go with De Rosario and his low shot was just wide to the left. Pontius was subbed off in the 73rd minute, and looked frustrated with the decision.
F Dwayne De Rosario - 6
De Rosario, much like Pontius and Najar, was trying to create, but he was just lacking in the final third. Even on his free kicks, he wasn't looking quite like himself. He obviously needs to shake the rust off, and clearly will, he didn't win the MVP trophy last season for nothing. He set up two decent attacks in combination with Pontius in the first half, but couldn't get on the score sheet.
F Hamdi Salihi - 4.5
An overall forgettable debut for the new Designated Player. He and De Rosario were clearly just getting to know each other and they just weren't on the same page. Salihi did have a decent header on the ball from Russell, but didn't get much power on it. He needs time to adjust.
F Josh Wolff - 5
It's not his fault he got this score, he just never saw the ball. I didn't understand the substitution at the time, as he didn't really add anything.
M Danny Cruz - 5
Tracked back well, and earned a couple fouls, but like Wolff, didn't see much of the ball. I'm not sure if I should reserve judgement, or say he was invisible.
F Maicon Santos - 5.5
Very limited action, but made an impact while on the field. His free kick was United's first shot on goal for the night. Santos forced Nielsen to make a tough save on the ball. He also held the ball up well on two occasions. He did however, send a ball over the tent behind the net when he easily could have settled the ball, rather than attempting a difficult volley.