United Til the End
In Week 20 of the MLS season, nearly 2/3rds of the year’s fixtures completed, MLS’s own Power Rankings had the following to say on their then-16th-ranked team, D.C. United:
D.C. are the ultimate hot-and-cold team as they haven't strung together any type of result since mid-March. That's left them adrift in the East, and it's not clear what the path forward is for this group.
In Week 21, Patrick Mullins made his D.C. United debut, and along with newly acquired Lloyd Sam, proceeded to light D.C.’s stagnant offense ablaze.
That’s a pretty typical Mullins goal: not very flashy, but effective and good at sensing where the play will end up. That’s good for him, and great for D.C. United. Before Mullins, D.C. scored 19 goals in 20 games, or about .95 goals/game. Since his debut, they’ve scored 32 in 13, or 2.46 goals/game. Mullins has contributed 8 goals and 2 assists to that number, while Sam has chipped in 3 goals and 6 assists. That’s tidy midseason business by D.C., who clinched a playoff birth with a win over Mullins’ former employer, NYCFC. Mullins scored a goal and added an assist. It’s a delicious business, this.
All About Bill
At this point, I’ve made my peace with the USMNT depth chart at almost all positions. The fact is, there’s a lot to be optimistic about our front line right now. But then I start to think about Bill Hamid.
Bill. Freakin. Hamid, man.
He turned in another stand-out performance that really, reeeaaaally makes me question the validity of Jurgen Klinsmann labeling him as being 6th or 7th on the USMNT keeper depth chart. Against an average at best side in New Zealand, both William Yarbrough and David Bingham were given a chance to state their case between the sticks last week, and neither performance (or performances made this year in general by the pair) convince me in the least they should be above Bill Hamid in the pecking order. I don’t know what hangup between coach and player is here, but this one looks like a no-brainer to me.
Locking Back In
The past two friendlies were pretty frustrating for anyone not named Julian Green and possibly Lynden Gooch, but a couple USMNT stalwarts managed to find the groove again in MLS play this weekend. Jozy Altidore contributed a last minute assist, as well as this second half equalizer that somehow managed to find its way in to the net.
Meanwhile, back in America, Sacha Kljestan bounced back from a putrid penalty attempt to contribute two assists in New York Red Bulls’ winning effort against Columbus, including the provider on this slick Mike Grella finish.
Kljestan now has 17 assists on the MLS season. That’s very good, and he’s once again proving his worth for both club and country in big ways. With playoffs looming, let’s just hope everyone stays healthy and happy heading into the Hex.