17 October 2005

Drawn Into the Quarters

DC United 2 : 2 Columbus Crew

There is a fun and happy story from this weekend. This one isn't it.

Here's how I figured it. Pathetic loss to the Metros last week leads to rebound effort this week, building momentum for the playoffs. For about 15 minutes, I figured I was right. Then came 75 minutes of dry, uninspired soccer. The kind of soccer that makes you want to do something more interesting, like the laundry or updating your blogroll. United got a point for the draw but deserved to lose. Let me break this down a few ways:

1) Defensive Line - John Harkes decided to demonstrate his strong knowledge of how to coach defense by piling on Facundo Erpen. Yes, I screamed when Facundo left his feet for the tenth straight time, and he got burned more than once. But the problem is that this team is not really the 2nd best defense in the league. They're an average defense at best, and if I have to explain why they have given up so few goals, I think I have to credit midfield play from Messrs Brian C and Ben O, combined with DCU's strong offensive posession skills. Prideaux/Erpen/Namoff is simply pedestrian at this point. I still think the line improves with Erpen/Boswell/Namoff, as this allows Erpen's speed and athleticism to be less of a liability than he is as the last line of defense that is leaky at times.

2) Finishing - Early this season United was snakebit, and you could see signs of that resurfacing Saturday night. Dema is a work horse when it comes to digging balls out of traffic, but even the goal he got doesn't disguise his inability to put the ball on the frame at times. Josh Gros was making excellent progress moving down the right side, but was suddenly stricken with the Christian Gomez if-I-make-a-perfect-pass-it-somehow-counts-for-more disease. Josh, I don't care about the angle you were at, when you have the keeper one-v.-one, put the ball at the net.

3) The Pitch - It was awful, and the worst part is that a posession team like DCU is penalized more by this than perhaps another team. If home field for the playoffs is to mean everything, this must be fixed.

So a week more of blogging before the playoffs come. I think there's a great deal to tackle before then, and I hope I can get to it all.