GK - Jimmy Nielsen
After a start to the season where Nielsen gave up a grand total of zero goals in the Wizards' first four league games (0.00 goals allowed average over four games is nearly unprecedented) and was in the conversation for best goalkeeper in the league, Nielsen has been exposed in most every game since that run ended. What made him so effective to start the season was his great positioning and tactical awareness - something he seems to have lost over the last two months. The first goal he was about three yards too far off his line, the second was only an average power shot that Jimmy got a hand on and trickled into the goal, and the third he ran out on Juan Pablo Angel, dove for the ball at the 18 yard box, whiffed and watched Angel circle around him and tap the ball into the goal.
Match Rating: 4.0
RB - Chance Myers
Ever since Roger Espinoza left the team to train with the Honurdan national team prior to the World Cup and Michael Harrington moved from right back - his natural position - to Espinoza's vacant left back spot, the Wizards have been bombarded and torn apart on the right side of defense. Myers isn't a "true" right back. If you're thinking football, he'd be a safety-outside linebacker tweener. This year he's played at every level along the right - right back, right midfield and right forward. He played a respectable game on Saturday. The thing about Myers is that he's a bright 22-year-old prospect who coach Peter Vermes likes to get on the field whenever possible. Sometimes that puts Chance behind the eight ball by being slotted at an uncomfortable position.
Match Rating: 6.5
CB - Jimmy Conrad
I like Jimmy Conrad. He's a great guy, he's the face of the Wizards, he's a former U.S. national team standout and he stopped to talk with us inside Johnny's Tavern on Saturday afternoon. But he's lost a step. Sure, he's lost more ability than I'll ever have in my life, but as the anchor of the Kansas City defense, it's really begun to hurt the team. The more easy allowances the back line puts on Jimmy Nielsen, the worse he looks. Conrad wasn't dreadfully awful on Saturday night. Actually, he was pretty good. I just wanted to go on record with that disclaimer once it becomes apparent to all later in the season.
Match Rating: 7.0
CB - Aaron Holbein
Holbein's Jay DeMerit-esque whiff after a Red Bulls goal kick lead directly to the first New York goal. After one touch from the head, the bouncing ball went right over Holbein, who flicked his head towards the ball and watched it bounce perfectly to the head of Salou Ibrahim, who chipped Nielsen into the back of the net. The third goal also came largely at the expense of Holbein. He fought with Angel for a good 10 yards and was shrugged off before Nielsen made his failed challenge. Conrad's back line partner has been a revolving door all season long. Holbein was just the latest to "epic fail" in a tense situation.
Match Rating: 4.5
LB - Michael Harrington
Throughout the whole season, Harrington has been stellar and the most consistent player by about eight light years. Saturday night was no different. Even playing out of his natural right side position and on the left, he still knows when to support forward, when to hang back and defend, when to hurry back in defense and has the ability to do so. Much as the saying about referees - the less you hear about the ref, the better for the game it is - the same could be said of fullbacks (right and left defenders on the backline) in soccer. When you hear lots about them, it's normally because they're being beaten like a piñata. That doesn't happen to Harrington and that's a good thing. Although, as my favorite player on the team, I love it when his name is mentioned because it means he's pushing forward and helping on the attack.
Match Rating: 8.0
RCM - Craig Rocastle
Rocastle kept his cool in this one, and that's far more than can be said of the majority of his appearances this season. SPOILER ALERT: At least he wasn't the one red carded this game. Outside my preference to see him not on the field, he played pretty well against New York. It was a good matchup for him as a defensive-minded midfielder. New York isn't the fastest of teams and he's not the fastest of players. His size and physical-natured play kept the Red Bulls from creating many chances. All three goals were actually given to New York on defender blunders.
Match Rating: 6.5
CM - Davy Arnaud
Sent off with a straight red card. Again. And it's not like it was a bad decision by the referee. On the challenge, he not only went in unnecessarily hard, but did so after a leaping start and used some sort of ninja power kick on the ankle of John Lindpere. A(nother) stupid challenge and the team's captain will be missing from the next game. Again. Tough to earn one of the team's largest paychecks when you miss every other game, Davy.
Match Rating: 5.0
LCM - Jack Jewsbury
Jewsbury is never flashy, but always effective. Along with Harrington, he's been mostly consistent the entire season. He has a tendency to disappear from time to time, but when he is visible for doing something, it's almost always good. He had quite a few good dispossessions of Red Bull players Saturday and did a good job of covering back and making it possible for Harrington to get further forward. Those two really do make a nice pairing down one side. The good thing is that Espinoza will pair even better with Jack when he returns this week.
Match Rating: 6.5
RF - Josh Wolff
Contrary to his form much of the season so far, Wolff played his fellow Wizards attackers into dangerous positions repeatedly against New York. The knock on him this year had been that he was lethargic and lacking creativity. He found his way into large open spaces and played multiple dangerous balls into the box. The problem? The rest of the forwards and the midfielders failing to latch onto the end of those balls. Can't blame Wolff for that, though.
Match Rating: 7.0
CF - Kei Kamara
Much like I like Jimmy Conrad, I like Kei Kamara. Finding him on Twitter was the big way that I got into following the Wizards. But, if he were only half as active on the soccer field as he is on Twitter, he would be a star in this league. The talent is there and he's shown flashes of putting it together. But he just has too many games like Saturday where he is lackadaisical and doesn't seem into it. His best opportunity came midway through the first half when he froze Red Bull keeper Bounda Condoul in goal, but pulled his shot just wide of the back post. Any shot between the sticks probably goes in. The consensus among many fans in The Cauldron after the game was that he played lazy and didn't seem to want it enough. I tried to defend my boy, but there was nothing I could really say. Step it up, Kei.
Match Rating: 5.5
LF - Ryan Smith
Smith was really dangerous against New York. Not like he was against DC United to open the season, but nearly. He made multiple darting runs with the ball into the center of the Red Bull defense that Condoul was forced to deal with himself. Smith does disappear at times, but when he shows up, you can see that guy from the moon. He needs to start finishing a bit more effectively for my liking, though, if he's going to be playing as a forward and not the midfield. Regardless, great game from the Englishman.
Match Rating: 7.5
Diop came in in the 84th minute and only had a few touches on the ball.
Match Rating: N/A
When the starting lineups were announced, I wasn't sure why Rocastle had been chosen over Zusi. Graham scored his first goal of the game in the team's last game and he had been more than serviceable the last month while Stephane Auvray has been out with an injury. But, as I've said, it was more tactical than favor of a particular player. When he came into the game in the 66th minute for Rocastle, he played a couple of nice through balls to each Kamara and Wolff, much as he's done all year. But hey, at least BOTH Zusi and Rocastle can start next week against FC Dallas, since Arnaud will be suspended and all. Again.
Match Rating: 5.0
The Kamara-Bunbury strike duo has been the most legitimate tandem we've had so far this season. Reports from practice were that they work extremely well together in practice. Why wouldn't they? They're buddies and Kei always tweets pictures of them eating at Chipotle together. I digress. Teal had a couple good chances at his first career goal on Saturday, but Red Bull defenders made heroic plays to deny him. At this point in his career, he's more effective playing up top on the outside. When he's in the game, that's where he needs to be. Kamara needs to be in the middle with his 6-foot-3, nearly 200-pound frame. Bunbury's going to be good, though.
Match Rating: 5.5