Cunningham Hat Trick Sinks United, 3-1

Jeff Cunningham had a hat trick for Real Salt Lake as they defeated DC United 3-1 at Bradenton on Friday. Christian Gomez scored United’s lone goal on a free kick.

Following are John Dyson’s observations:

1st Half Lineup

4-4-2  Diamond

GK – Perkins

D – McTavish, Bertz, Erpen, Wilson

DM – Simms

M – Gros, Adu

AM – Gomez

F – Filomeno, Moreno

1 – Wilson overlaps down the sideline and crosses to Moreno in the middle of the box.  Moreno is able to control and fires on goal, but it sail over the bar.

2 – Off a DC throw in, Adu finds space down the left flank and nails a cross to the far post.  Filomeno(?) in a crowd gathers it in, but is unable to control it long enough to get a shot off.

5 – Atiba(?) nasty tackle on Simms.

7 – Again Adu rushes down his flank, his speed on the ball (the Freddy Effect), is already forcing RSL’s midfielder to defensively.  Adu pushes the ball forward to Filomeno running on a diagonal across the box to the near post.  He is challenged by Chris Brown, but shoulders off defender.  Finally, Brown is forced to commit a professional foul at the end line, just outside the box to stop Filomeno from turning the corner.  The ensuing free kick is blocked down for no effect.

10 – A long ball over DC’s midfield rolls into DC’s right corner.  Erpen slides over to cover on Cunningham.  Cunningham dances but is unable to find space, and eventually dribbles out of bounds.  Support nicely done by McTavish cutting down passing lanes out of corner.

13Atiba gets wide on DC’s left and receives long outlet from RSL’s defensive end.  He uses a speed move to touch to the end line, which gives him enough space to fling a cross into the box.  Cunningham is on the receiving end on far side of the box, and one-times it back to the opposite post.  GOAL RSL 0-1

ObservationGoY candidate all around.  But, questions to be asked:  Where was the up field pressure to force a bad outlet?  Why did Wilson allow space?  Who was marking Cunningham?

14 – Nearly identical play as the goal, as Atiba again finds space against Wilson.  This time the cross goes lacking.

16 – DC pushes McTavish up to right wing, Gros to left wing, Adu plays more centrally.  Looks more like a 3-5-2.

18Moreno hacked down just outside the box – the wind is gusting up to 5mph and the nudge obviously disrupted his attack!  Gomez and Adu over ball.  OH, GOALLAAAZZOOOO.  Perfectly placed free kick from Gomez into the upper 90 – untouchable.  GOAL DC 1-1.

ObservationsThere’s something to be said about experienced players.

22 – Filomeno causing some troubles with his control of the ball.  He manages to hold and spin with a nice looking, but largely ineffective shot from about 25 yards out.

23 – Adu opens a quick counter out of DC’s defense with a 50 yard scamper.  He touches forward to McTavish running on the far side unmarked.  RSL GK Nolly(?) is able to block the shot by McTavish.

27Gros misplays a ball on the right flank.  Cunningham pounces and dribbles in on the box.  Wilson confronts him, but Cunningham slips farther to Wilson’s left, stops, drills a shot on goal.  Although Perkins is following play, it looks like the shot was screened and he is leaning the wrong way.  The ball cuts back to the far post, Perkins gets his hands to it, but it slips in for a goal.  GOAL RSL 1-2.

ObservationsNice fields, but it looked like a possible bad hop that started the play.  Cunningham attack and Wilson stood him up on the original foray.  As Cunningham cut to Wilson left looking for space, he was able to get enough to get a shot off.  Perkins was either leaning the wrong way, or the new ball went funky – read the Francisco Tobar and Mark Simpson Q&A’s.

30-35 – RSL now controlling most of flow through midfield.  Some blunted attacks, but DC is unable to effectively clear their zone.  A few counters are stopped in mid third of the field.

37Cunningham receives ball about 25 yards out.  He pushes forward and double steps Simms for space.  He drives on goal, Perkins gets a hand to it, but it isn’t enough.  GOAL RSL 1-3.

39 – Finally DC gets attack into gear again.  Gomez and Adu playing nice short game from midfield into attacking third.  Moreno finds lane to run into and Gomez feeds him the ball.  Moreno gathers it in steps in on goal, and is barged down with a shoulder left of center, just outside the box.  From about 20 yards out, Filomeno’s free kick is a mirror image of Gomez’ shot, but this time Nolly is able to fingertip it out for a corner.

42 – DC definitely back in control.  Most of the action in RSL end of the field.  Adu able to get down deep into RSL box and drives a shot on goal.  The ball is blocked down and rattles around and Filomeno flips it over the congestion to Gros on the far side.  Gros goes one-time on goal, but Chris Brown’s body obstructs an obvious goal.  The ball is cleared from further danger.

2nd Half

G – Rimando

D – Handy, Erpen, deRoux

DM – J.Carroll

M – Van Sicklen, Worthen

AM – Dyachenko

F – Walker, Metcalf

46 – DC pushes forward immediately after the start.  Kuykendall finds Walker with a through ball, but Walker strikes it high.

47 – Van Sicklen stops an RSL attack just outside of DC box in a dangerous position.  Rimando makes a diving punch to clear ensuing free kick for a corner.  Corner flubbed and cleared easily.

50 – D’ko touches to Metcalf, who finds Van Sicklen open on the right flank.  V.Sicklen touches around defender to end line and lifts cross to far post for a streaking Walker, but the cross is off target and Nolly is able to pull it in.

51 – Metcalf’s pressure in midfield bears fruit as he steals the ball away and charges forward.  As RSL’s close in on him he rifles a drive, but Nolly is up to the task and pushes it away.

54 – Akwari(?) crunches Worthen on a breakaway.

59 – Worthen lifts a perfect lead pass to Walker, who beats the trap with good timing.  Walker takes a crack at the lower left, and Nolly anticipates well for the save.

60 – D’ko controls through, using his body well to keep ball.  He drops the ball back to Kuykendall in support, who flips the ball diagonally to Worthen streaking down the flank. Worthen touches and shoots towards goal, but not a difficult stop by Nolly.

62 – Erpen shuts down RSL’s first real threat of the half with a well timed intervention, blocking down the shot off the final pass.  DC counters quickly with Van Sicklen on the flank, but he has no support through the center.  The attack falters.

65 – Metcalf showing well in offensive third.  Not afraid of “bodying” people for control of ball

68 – RSL finds space down DC’s right flank.  Handy does well with 1v2 situation and handles troubles without help.

72 – Walker and Worthen working well on DC left attacking side.  They work a give-and-go, which opens up RSL middle defense, but last touch is lacking, and RSL clears danger.

73 – Prideaux in for Erpen

74 – Van Sicklen uses cut back across top of the box and gets a shot off, but it deflected and cleared from danger.

76 – Pablo Gomez in for Kuykendall

79 – Off a quick throw in, Walker dribbles down side of the RSL box.  Worthen cuts in behind him finding no one covering.  Walker deftly slips the ball past the last defender to Worthen for an open shot, but the finish is left wanting.

82 – D’ko pushes forward, almost forming a 3-4-3.

85 – DC’s second half team clearly outclassing RSL’s, but unable to find the finishing touch.  RSL doing well in cluttering the box and cutting off final runs.

87 – Pablito with cheeky no-look pass finds Worthen wide.  Worthen pushes down to end line and crosses, but no one able to sky in the box.

88 – Nice counter by RSL, but again Handy clears it by himself.

In general:

RSL looks more like a real team.  Cunningham was clearly their MoM, but a strong mention for Nolly.  Atiba could cause problems with his deceptive speed – long, loping strides – but is a red card waiting to happen.

You expect more from DCUnited, even if they are the hardest working team down here – that is an obvious point – and the legs are probably getting worn out.  Most disappointing was the lack of response to the physical nature of the game.  Tough call on MoM.  Gomez’ shot was excellent.  Metcalf was impressive.  Moreno proved difficult a couple of times.  I give it to Chico and Carlos Solares for making the road-trip.

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