There's always this tendency to see a game through the prism of its final scoreline. It's understandable - we process these things as stories, and we sort stories into the comic and tragic bins based largely on outcome.
It's understandable, but it's flawed, because seldom does any tale worth telling consist of all one kind of thing - there's happiness and joy woven through even the darkest outcomes, and horror and regret lives within even the shiniest path to glory.
Except, maybe, last Saturday night. Because a review of that game reveals a pretty stark dichotomy: The Fire players played well while those from DC did not. Perhaps fans of United will see happiness and joy woven through the play of Luis Silva; elsewise it was grim viewing for them. For us in Fireville, well, we get a week of coasting on bliss, hoping that our suspicion this was more DC giving than the Fire taking is ill-founded.
HTIOT Man of the Match
Joel Lindpere, 9/10: Lindpere sounded off in the media post-game about wanting more playing time, but talking isn't going to earn PT - performances like this will. Lindpere's recognition of the moments when DC's defense was there for the taking was astute, his service to Rolfe was measured, and he took his goal well. Lindpere may daydream of the team running the offense through him in the middle, but this performance demonstrated that his best position in this league is exactly where drunken uncle Hans Backe put him for Red Bull: On the left, maybe pinching in a little.
Fire player ratings
Paolo Tornaghi, 6/10: Little for our Italian to do for the most part, and nothing he could do on Silva's goal. Best moment was reacting well to Thorrington's partially-blocked shot in the 53rd, tipping a goal-bound wobbler over the bar and onto the top netting.
Jalil Anibaba, 6/10: Pedestrian outing from Anibaba, but no gaffes, either. A year into his career as a right back, his crosses are still generally aimless if they aren't blocked. Still, his first job is to defend, and DC gave him precious little trouble - although that could be Nick DeLeon's doing as well.
Bakary Soumare, 6/10: Better game from Baky; fewer moments where one finds oneself going "Who-wha-whyyyyy?" Didn't try to juggle on the goalline, for instance. Didn't get wound up by El Pescadito. Failed to step into Silva on his goal.
Austin Berry, 6/10: Played simply and stayed away from trouble. DC's disjointed pressing couldn't cause him problems. Thankfully this game should do some good in repairing Berry's shredded confidence; much greater challenges await.
Gonzalo Segares, 7/10: Precious few touches, but as always his clever positioning and anticipation made attacking his flank a difficult proposition. I worry when he pinches in to help regain possession, but he always seems to recover without trouble as a result, so obviously he knows his game better than my worry-wart self.
Dilly Duka, 6/10: Pulled up lame on the first sprint of the second half or this would likely be higher. Playing in Patty Nyarko's right-wing slot, Duka was solid but not astonishing. His work rate is now fantastic, though, which means a lot in terms of the team dictating play.
Alex, 6/10: I hear a lot about wanting Alex to play 'at the top of a diamond' in talks with other Fire supporters, but this box-to-box role Klopas is better suited to his skill-set. Excels at winning the ball in 2- and 3-man combinations. Part of the reason he doesn't join the attack is the Fire attack is extremely direct and flows right at goal - the ball-winners in the middle of the park get left behind. Caught upfield slightly on Silva goal.
Jeff Larentowicz, 7/10: Jeffoldinho's 11th-minute burst of speed and nutmeg was astonishing, and his recognition of the possibilities in that moment, coming out of his shell for the opportunity, was even better. He's settled into a good rhythm in the center of the pitch. It's good to have a guy who will foul the bejesus out of somebody. Can get caught out because of pace, but he and Alex have developed a good understanding.
Chris Rolfe, 9/10: The MLS Player of the Week, but not MoM? It's a tough old world. Saturday, Rolfe was the player we've waited for him to be - intelligent, daring, and incisive in the moments that matter most. He and Magee have started to figure each other's games out, and despite their similarities may be coming into their own as a tandem. Rolfe's diagonal runs and drops into space added confusion to an already muddled DC backline.
Mike Magee, 7/10: It's hard to overestimate the effect Magee has had on this team, in my opinion. He's demanded cogency from his teammates and talks constantly on the field about runs, spacing, marking and decisions. He doesn't wear the armband, but he plays like he is. He and Rolfe demand constant concentration out of opponents. Made no mistake on the penalty.
Quincy Amarikwa, 7/10: He didn't dribble from the kickoff to score like he did in the last reserves match, but his energy and pace were a fantastic addition in the second half. His longest outing with the first team, he looked like a guy who deserves more PT. Drew the penalty against the forlorn Daniel Woolard.
Logan Pause, 6/10: Good to see Wolverine back on the field. Not sure where he's likely to start, or if he's likely to start. Being able to go to a Pause-Larentowicz double pivot to kill a game is surely comforting.
Maicon Santos, NR: Didn't get enough time to do anything as we subbed to kill the clock. At least I'm not typing Sherjill MacDonald, NR in this space - thank heaven for small favors.