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Promising Start for a Work in Progress



DC opened their season Saturday night (February 24) with a 3-1 home win over the New England Revolution. I wrote several blogs over the offseason detailing our personnel changes and I still had to keep checking the roster to see who these new people were! Our starting lineup had only 6 players who were here last year: goalkeeper Alex Bono, left back Pedro Santos, midfielders Ted Ku-Dipietro, Mateusz Klich and Gabriel Pirani, and of course forward Christian Benteke.


The other 5 starters were Christopher McVey (from Inter Miami ) and Lucas Bartlett (from St. Louis City FC) ) at center backs, Aaron Herrera (from Montreal ) at right back, Matti Peltola (our new Finnish international DP) in defensive midfield, and Jared Stroud (also from St. Louis ) in midfield.


Substitutes in the second half were Conner Antley (from the Tampa Bay Rowdies ), Cristian Dajome, Kristian Fletcher and Jackson Hopkins.


The play was aggressive and energetic, and lots of fun to watch. You can't score if you don't shoot, and DC took a LOT of shots (30 overall, 19 in the first half). The interplay was surprisingly good given the newness of the lineup and coach. There were lots of squandered opportunities, but Christian Benteke scored a hat trick (one goal in the first half, two late in the second half) and DC was helped both by New England's fatigue (they played in Panama midweek) and stupidity (forward Giacomo Vrioni got 2 yellow cards in 25 minutes, and DC played a man up for most of the game). In fairness, I think some of New England's fatigue was caused by DC's aggressiveness, especially in the first half.


Maybe the win was a little fortunate, but I really liked what I saw. I hope Lesesne and Mackay get a few years to try their approach; it's fun and effective so far. I'll even go out on a limb and say that we may be ragged at times this year (especially early) but we will finally get back to the playoffs. Not the highest bar in the MLS world, but it would be nice to have to worry about game logistics in November.


More specific comments:


Bono looked good, made some nice saves.

Stroud impressed in midfield, not so much on finishing. He missed a sitter.

Santos is slow at left back, just escaped a penalty and was bailed out by Bono once.

Antley looked good.

The two center backs (McVey and Bartlett) did quite well considering they were thrown into the deep end here. No major mistakes.


The next game is in Portland late next Saturday night (March 2).


I'm looking forward to watching this year (and the team) develop.


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