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February 5, 2014: Match Analysis with Chad Ashton

Assistant Coach Chad Ashton breaks down last night's match vs TFC

We all saw how foggy it was, but Chad Ashton could still see the field and he has provided us with insight and analysis of our match against Toronto FC. In speaking with the long-time assistant, it was clear that he was pleased with the squad's effort and impressed by many of the performances he saw last night.

“I thought it was good, it was a good start,” said Chad Ashton. “We can tell we are about 20 minutes fit or so. Through that first 20, I thought we did a decent job.”

Four new faces started the first half for us, with three starting in the back line. Andrew Dykstra had to quickly get the defense organized, but Bobby Boswell’s vocal leadership helped make it a smooth start.

WATCH: Watch D.C. United vs Toronto FC again

“Once they get tired, you start to see a few breakdowns here and there between the triangle of Bobby, Jeff [Parke] and Perry [Kitchen],” said Ashton. “You can hear the communication with Jeff and Bobby, and I think that helps everybody on the team. And then you have Sean [Franklin], who is able to get forward over there if we do a little bit better job keeping the ball.”

Playing in the center of the midfield last night were Kitchen, Davy Arnaud and Luis Silva. The team will rely on its central trio in 2014 to help, as Ashton mentions, keep possession.

“Our passes we were linking together were too, basically, in our own end most of the time,” Ashton explained. “We didn't do a good enough job at keeping possession and gradually moving up the field and creating a little more riding time at their end.”

As Dykstra played a large role in keeping a clean sheet for the first half, Ashton recognized him for some big saves and was generally pleased with the first half performance as a whole.

The second half saw a completely new line up, with only Jared Jeffrey, Collin Martin, Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky and Joe Willis returning from last season.

“That crew really has no experience together. A lot of young guys mean that a lot of things could go wrong, and really not too many bad things came up. Again, very encouraged by their performance,” Ashton stated.

For both Ben Olsen and Chad Ashton, Christiano Francois was a standout in that second half, showing off his speed and skill on multiple occasions.

“I thought Christiano had a very good half,” Ashton said. “He put their defense on their heels a few times. He ran at some people and created some havoc. So, we were happy with what he did out on the wing.”

For many, this was their first professional game, and nerves are normal and expected. Through the first-game jitters though, Ashton finds positives in the performance from our first round SuperDraft pick, Steven Birnbaum.

“He did great. He is obviously a warrior in the air. I'd like to hear him a little bit more. But again, for a guy that is just playing in his first real professional game, I thought he did great.”

And for those with some MLS experience under their belts, like Jeffrey and Martin, last night was still a test.

“It's great for them,” Ashton noted. “It's a good role for them to step up and be more of a voice with the guys and kind of control how that group is going to play. Are they going to press at times? Are they going to drop off? And for the most part, I think they did great job at that.”

Today, we hit the training fields again, still focusing on building relationships and getting into a rhythm. Our next match is Saturday, February 8 vs the Chicago Fire and will stream on dcunited.com/live