In case you missed it, after last night's game, I cooked myself up a nice, hot, steaming plate of crow and chowed down. Birahim Diop made me look a real fool, so I took the chance immediately after the game to chastise myself.
Now that that's out of the way, I feel as if settling down and focusing on the rest of the game, outside of Birahim Diop's hat trick, is far more feasible. Because, in all honesty, that was a pretty stellar performance from a lot of different players - some of which were extremely unexpected, and maybe in an instance or two, someone that some may have written off completely.
First of all, if not for Diop's hat trick, I think Graham Zusi and Chance Myers had near Man of the Match worthy performances. Zusi was all over the San Jose backline from the first to the very last whistle. His shot in the 14th minute fell just wide of opening up the score sheet with a real cracker from the left corner of the 18 yard box. All season long, I've thought he deserved more playing time, but was just the victim of a cruel numbers game with so many other quality players as midfield options for head coach Peter Vermes. Graham could have had an assist or two had it not been for the Wizards' usual finishing form and a great save from Quakes keeper Jon Busch.
Myers was also a force to be reckoned with down the right side of attack. Starting in Kei Kamara's usual wide right forward role, Myers did a good job of staying wide, stretching the field and opening up spaces in the center for midfielders Davy Arnaud and Jack Jewsbury to step into. Chance possesses a fairly quick first and second step, making him tough to shut down when given ample room to roam.
With Arnaud being given the captain's armband prior to the season, one would assume that he's most certainly in the cards for 2011. I would also like to think the same could be said of Zusi, as well. But, there was one other player that had a very good game on Saturday night that the Wizards are banking on quite heavily to be an integral part of the future.
With Jimmy Conrad missing the final two games of the season due to concussion symptoms, Matt Besler was given a golden opportunity to re-stake his claim to a starting centerback spot heading into next year. He played a pretty good game last week against New England Revolution, but this time around against San Jose, he was even better. At just 23 years old, given his prior starting experience, I would like to see Matt get the opportunity to play many meaningful minutes in 2011. It's been a tough year for Besler after losing his starting spot in the third game of the season, for seemingly no reason, but to his credit, he's continued to fight and did himself a great service these past two games.
Spirited performances were also turned in by goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and rightback Jonathon Leathers. If it weren't for each being stuck by a firmly entrenched incumbent starter, they could both state their case for minutes next season, too.
More so, though, Kronberg looked the part of a legitimate starting goalkeeper at the MLS level. Not tested often, if at all, in the first half, he looked confident going to air for crosses and charging forward when necessary in the second 45 minutes when the KC half of the field was bombarded by numerous San Jose attacks. You can say that he was well out of position on the goal by Chris Wondolowski, but the fact of the matter is, if he's perfectly placed on the line, Wondolowski still scores the easy tap-in, because he was completely unmarked. I can't justify blaming Kronberg for that one.
Lastly, if for no other reason that he is by far the littlest guy around every time he steps on the field, I really like watching Korede Aiyegbusi play. He's incredibly quick in short bursts and isn't afraid to throw his body around to make up for his severe lack of size. Having players like he and Myers, though, offers some nice versatility should Vermes find himself in a substitution bind next season and need someone who can shift from midfield back to fullback, or vice versa.
Basically, I can't really complain about anybody's performance in this one. They all showed well, left it all on the field and got the result. Now, if only we can do that from April to July next year, too...