U.S. 2 - Turkey 1
After a thoroughly lackluster first half and yet another defensive lapse resulting in a goal against, the U.S. men picked up a scrappy win. Dempsey and Altidore walked away with the goals, but they were not who particularly impressed.
Donovan's first touch that rounded the keeper and subsequent pass on the first goal were excellent. The second goal was quite fortunate, Dempsey basically hip-checked Donovan's awkwardly placed pass roughly into both his and his defender's path, the ball took a deflection off the defender's ankle directly into Dempsey's feet and Dempsey's low shot squeezed between the keeper's arm and body. Not impressive, but it is the type of goal that the U.S. will need to be able to convert.
Bob Bradley's choice of Robbie Findley over Brian Ching was vindicated somewhat by this game. Findley still hung on to the ball for far too long, but Findley looked like a player who could actually use his speed to create, if not convert, opportunities. His play was a couple steps above what we have seen from him at previous national level games or at Real Salt Lake this year.
Jonathan Bornstein was amazing. . .ly bad. I lost count of the number of times he was caught out of position or just burned by the man he should have been marking. Maybe he was trying to make Heath Peace feel better.
Torres, '80s Charlie Sheen hair ("Drugs? You in here for drugs?") notwithstanding, looked good. Not as great as ESPN seems to think he is, but he certainly looked lively, aggressive, and adapted his play to Route 1 soccer. Also, his free kick everything we've been promised from him short of a goal. Donovan's free kicks are excellent as well, but it's nice to have an alternative.
On the whole, the team looked only slightly less worrying than they have since qualifying.
D.C. United 3 - 2 Chivas USA
We have more points than a triangle and karma is a bitch, ain't it Chivas?
Okay, D.C. still did not look good. Najar's goal was a free-header and possibly off-sides (I have seen no replays yet), Christman was in the right place at the right time, and D.C. can hardly rely upon injury-time penalties in which the keeper is sent off. D.C. has been looking better, but that's only a comment upon how poor they looked earlier in the season, and continued their improving trend this week. If they ever manage to direct their headers on corners, they might actually be threatening.
Tino hit the post twice and his free kicked looks more like last year's and less like this year's stratospheric blasts. As a forward, Tino didn't look as lost or desperate to create as he has in the midfield.
Najar took some knocks, looked good in general, but is still quite young and over-looked some passing opportunities. I also noticed that the young man has a very deft first touch and close control, but when called to dribble forward, the ball gets away from him quite a bit and defenders were easily clearing the ball off of him.
The jury is still out on King, but I'm leaning toward adequate to mediocre.
D.C.'s central defense still looks incredibly vulnerable to speed and the actual "defending" abilities of Jordan Graye and Rodney Wallace continue to look suspect as left and right backs. That is not to say that I don't like them in their positions, but I don't believe either is a natural defender and quite frankly their defensive lapses and tendency to get forward probably puts too much pressure on the center backs (both Pena and Jakovic are incredibly talented, but don't have the pace to provide too much additional coverage).
Unfortunately, I don't think this is the beginning of a turn around - Chivas was having a bad spell anyway and there problems with D.C.'s defense are too glaring. . . that and the fact that I still doubt this team's ability to score consistently. I'll take the win and be happy this Memorial Day weekend and that's about it.