Matchday 1 is in the books! DCU secured 3 points at home with 3 goals and a clean sheet.. the perfect start to the season….right?
When asked a similar question, Hernan Losada stated, “It’s fantastic, but I’m not blind.”
Most pregame predictions (from DC fans anyway) turned out to be pretty accurate in terms of score; however, the final 3-0 scoreline does not accurately reflect the 90 minutes we witnessed on the pitch.
From the onset DCU struggled to control the midfield and seemed a bit disjointed. In our pre-match blog, we stated that this game would be a big test for Nyeman… and it certainly was. While Nyeman’s stats don’t necessarily reflect a sub-par performance, something seemed off. Across the midfield corps, our decision-making was slow and our distribution lethargic for most of the night. Losing the possession battle, pass accuracy comparison, and passes completed comparison against Charlotte says a lot about the midfield play.
Although we did struggle in the midfield, there was a massive bright spot in Sofiane Djeffal. For me, Djeffal was our best midfielder. Calm on the ball, decisive, and picked the right passes. His confidence was clear – something not expected for a kid right out of college. Really looking forward to seeing him play the rest of the season. He deserves a start in Cincinnati.
Defensively, DCU were just OKAY. But the final score flatters our back line. We were very solid on defensive set pieces, but in open play… I have to admit, I am worried. Our formation lends itself to Gressel and Smith occasionally being out of position, and Charlotte took advantage of that numerous times - leading to their 2 best chances. On another day Charlotte could have put a couple of goals passed Hamid. The aspect of this that concerns me the most is that the holes that led to Charlotte’s chances on Saturday, were the same holes exploited by the Galaxy for their 2 goals in the pre-season finale.
That being said, Najar was phenomenal. Possibly our best player on the field on Saturday. My brother texted me asking if he was a forward… Najar is maybe the most unique player I’ve ever seen in his position.
Speaking of forwards, Estrada looks like a great signing. Yes, his goals last night were a little bit lucky…but you make your own luck. He was in good positions and displayed some nice holdup play with his back to goal. A 20 goal season is definitely an achievable mark; which will likely see him solidify his spot as the #9 for Ecuador in the World Cup. I’m looking forward to seeing how Estrada and Flores work together moving forward.
While DCU did not play great by any means… 3 points is 3 points. Charlotte maybe deserved a more flattering scoreline; however, DCU were still the better team. Our gameplan, cohesion, and chemistry was head and shoulders above Charlotte… and for me that was a difference maker. Onwards and upwards.
Hope to see some of you in Cincinnati!
P.S. - Solace Brewing Company’s “outpost” in Navy yard is a great new spot. The place was packed for hours before kickoff and had a nice selection locally brewed beers, seltzers, etc. They seem to be embracing local soccer too; with their bartenders wearing DCU gear and showing the early MLS games before our match. They also seem like the new location for Manchester United’s Washington D.C. supporters club.
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