Saragosa and Kitchen dominate midfield
Marcelo Saragosa wasn’t supposed to be the central midfield playerthat unlocked the Black-and-Red attack. Branko Boskovic’s passing or Dwayne De Rosario’s playmaking or evenLewis Neal’s work rate were all far more likely candidates to inspire BenOlsen’s club to one of its best offensive performances of 2012.
But on Wednesday night, when United needed a result worsethan at any other time this year, the unheralded Brazillian stepped up.
“I was impressed with a lot of guys, starting with Marcelo,”said Head Coach Ben Olsen after D.C.’s 4-2 win over Chicago. “He set a good tone. He has had a tough year and I’ve reliedon him very, very sparingly.”
As Olsen noted, Wednesday was only Saragosa’s fourth startthis season. After making thefirst eleven twice in the campaign’s opening three weeks, the 30-year-old sawhis minutes dry up. Saragosa’syear took a dramatic turn for the worse in mid-April, when his father passedaway unexpectedly. Since then, hestarted just once – and was replaced at halftime – in a 5-3 loss at San Jose toopen the month of May. AfterWednesday’s match, Olsen acknowledged that Saragosa was ‘frustrated’ during thesummer months.
A recent meeting between player and coach helped clear theair – and perhaps – helped fill out Wednesday’s lineup card.
“I talked to Ben the other day,” Saragosa said in aSpanish-language interview. “Ifelt I needed more minutes. Ithought I deserved a chance. I’mso grateful that he gave me that opportunity tonight. We won and that is most important.”
Working alongside Perry Kitchen, Saragosa turned in anactive – and extremely physical – ninety minute performance. The duo won nearly every loose ballWednesday night, keeping D.C. on the offensive while at the same time stiflingChicago’s attack.
“We picked up so many second balls tonight,” said ChrisPontius. “When the ball did comeback, those two were sitting in there winning balls and getting the offensestarted. A lot of times, they werethe ones that got our offense going.”
Olsen had yet to deploy the Kitchen - Saragosa combo beforeWednesday night, but the second-year coach now seems destined to try it again.
“When you have two like minded guys in the same spot youworry about them both doing that holding midfield role and not being able topush out,” Olsen acknowledged. “But,I tell you what, they did it very well tonight and I was very pleased becauseit is an option now going forward.”