Donkeys punched out of the Open Cup, 3:1
Thomas Binkley; August 23, 2006
After holding DC to a scoreless tie a week ago at the Meadowlands, Bruce Arena's return to RFK was equally as thrilling. Since his arrival with the Red Donkeys, the team has been solid defensively and playing as a collective. Throughout the match, several attempts were made to start or finish an offensive drive by passing off a heel to someone that would be taking a shot, or at least to move up field quickly, with more speed and finesse than we've seen from this team all season.
With the starting lineup relatively unchanged from the previous week, Arena seemed to be keen on using the press to mislead his opponents, by stating after this weekend's loss that he would be resting several key members in the lineup for the more important MLS match on Saturday. Minor tinkering included Knuckles O'Rourke starting and the Metro fan favorite, Dema Kovalenko, sitting out due to a red card from last year's competition. In defense, Jeff Parke and Todd Dunivant were rested, with Taylor Graham and Steve Jolley starting instead.
The match commenced with another convincing 45 minutes against DC, showing a solid defense with several changes in possession occurring in the midfield, and several soft shots on goal that Meola had no issue containing. Josh Gros' opening salvo in the 37th minute was answered by Amado Guevara four minutes later. The half ended with possession changing several times but a solid defensive effort by the Donkeys.
The second half was not nearly as convincing. Jamil Walker's goal in the 61st was a questionable effort by Tony Meola. As the minutes ticked away it was obvious that he was in some discomfort, as he was able to make some solid stops but was getting back to his feet very slowly. Walker's second goal in the 61st was a solid cross from Corky Eskandarian.
Notable substations included Jordan Cila, who relieved Edson Buddle (and the fans) in the 67th minute and played a very conservative game. In the 70th, Marvell Wynne was replaced by Todd Dunivant. This change seemed to remove the morale from those left on the pitch and the Donkeys ability to drive upfield seemed to dry up immediately. Josmer Altidore, who entered in the 74th minute for Youri Djorkaeff, did not look comfortable and seemed to be trying to find where to be to contribute. Cila did take some shots with more accuracy than the individual he replaced. None of those that were subbed in seemed to be able to convert their extra time on the bench into the spark needed to make up the two goals lost earlier. Depth is clearly an issue.
Chris Henderson's failed crosses from the right side into the box continued for a third straight game and don't seem to be improving. On the bright side, Wynne was everywhere. Transitioning from a defensive role to leading an offensive push, he made United look untied, as they were unable to get around him or slow him down without a great deal of effort or doubling up on him. Buddle was once again a liability. At least, he was entertaining, tripping on the grass trays that cover the baseball field, looking as though he slid into second, followed by a high shot over the goal that cleared the outfield fence near the Nationals clock for a solid, base clearing home run. Maybe he's been trying to play baseball all season and never got the memo that the Donkeys play soccer.
Lineup: Meola, Jolley, Mendes, Graham, Wynne, O'Rourke, Stammler, Henderson, Guevara, Djorkaeff, Buddle. Subs: Cila, Dunivant, Altidore, Parke.