What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
Right, unlike last month, I've not forgotten to do name a player of the month, but given the way things have gone, it does seem rather a hard nut to crack, doesn't it? Let's briefly review our matches in June and we can see just how miserable they were. It was rather a condensed month in terms of matches (not in terms of days, to which the title goes squarely to February) and that played into things a bit. Indeed, though, we did have a quite good match, too, so maybe it's not so utterly doom-ridden as I've made it all sound.
We started the month on a down note, coming off the painful loss to Minnesota Stars FC in the US Open Cup and seeing Kyle Beckerman be given barely a chance to graduate from the bench to the pitch for the U.S. national team. Of course, he saw more time than his comrade Nick Rimando, who, as a third keeper, didn't see any time in the matches on hand.
That, in and of itself, was rather unfortunate, because I think both deserved time. Our loyal captain should have seen more time, especially ahead of the hapless Edu, and our keeper perhaps should have been given a friendly in which to display his skills. I'm inclined to think that if you're going to take three keepers into camp, and you've got a fair slew of friendlies to play, perhaps giving your backups time — especially when you have full faith in your number one keeper — just seems the right thing to do. Alas, this is not a spot to just complain about the U.S. nationals, but this certainly was part of our June.
So, let's run through the matches. Thankfully, we can start with the rather good, as we opened the month with a nice 3-0 win over Chivas USA. Fabian Espindola went on a right tear, scoring a brace and generally looking impressive against the Goats, with Will Johnson rounding off the scoring fun for his first goal of the season. It was a match in which we looked like the side that tore through sides to start last season, but what came shortly after was more like the midseason side of last season that had serious problems.
The next match started as well as it could have. We went 2-0 up against the Galaxy in the first half — in the first half of the first half, really — and then let it all go rather up in smoke. Oh, the pain and suffering that night brought. It was hard to find positives despite our excellent start, but such is the way of things when things go awry.
Things only got worse from there. In 114 minutes, we went from looking on top of the league (in more ways than one) to being distraught. It was like something clicked, and our confident play just sort of vanished. That really manifested in our next match, when we took on San Jose Earthquakes at the Rio Tinto. Now, we know that San Jose is a very solid side and they've got a knack for finding the back of the net, but normally, we're no slouches. But when we equalized in the 79th minute through Javier Morales, you just had a sense that, well, the night hadn't been finalized. Sure enough, we dropped the points at home yet again, giving us our first set of consecutive home losses since, what, 2007? It was painful.
And it wasn't done. Three matches lost in a row? Inconceivable. Alas, we came up against a Columbus Crew side we were rightly expected to beat, and we let them thoroughly dominate us. We seemed as hapless as we ever have. Painful, right? Certainly so.
So, on the back of that, who can be the player of the month? It seems difficult to name one. But there were a few that looked to be trying and fighting, even through all the nonsense. I won't blame this on any one — our side lost these matches, not our individuals. Who was good, though? Well, Javier Morales had a bit of spark, dictating play when he was on the pitch. Chris Wingert fought nobly as a center back despite being more comfortable out wide. And, well, I struggle to think of others who really impressed in any notable way. As a result, this one goes to Chris Wingert.
It's not just a "well, I had to pick one, so I picked Chris." Wingert worked incredibly hard in the absence of Jamison Olave for the latter half of the month, found the right spots in the defense, and generally looked rather comfortable in the position. Did it make much difference? Well, not really. But things could have been much, much worse if not for Wingert's defensive efforts. And for that, I've got to name him my player of the month for June.