22 October 2005

Nervous Tension

Chicago Fire 0 : 0 DC United
(0-0 Aggregate Goal after First Leg)

In the textbooks, getting a draw on the away leg of a two game total goal series is considered positive. The textbooks should also be amended to say "it's even more positive when you get a draw after deserving to lose." DCU was out of sorts in this match. The typical possession game was replaced by an attempt to string together a series of long-balls. Balls from the back to the middle. Balls from the middle skied to the top. Rarely seen was the midfield build-up, the ball sent to the overlapping runner, the intricate passing at the top of the box.

I managed to make my way to the viewing party that the SEs were putting on over at Bailey's. A crowd of between 100-200 turned out, and was stunned to learn that Freddy had been suspended. Maybe there were reasons for it, but if he could have been used, tonight was good night for it. United was sloppy on the ball, and if there is one thing Freddy can do, it's take a few touches, draw a foul, and let DC get players forward. Christian Gomez disappeared from his traditional role of directing the attack. He needed to be subbed out for Freddy. That wasn't an option, which led to the curious move (?!) of Walker for Gomez. The suspension was a complete surprise, and I am very curious if we'll ever hear why it happened. (Update - Oh, that's why... Goodness. I have got to think about this one.)

There were bright spots. Brian Carroll deserves credit not just for playing the ball off the line but also playing solid defense. Jamie Moreno made some dangerous moves that led to a few chances. Dema Kovalenko didn't send any balls into the crowd, and had a pass through the box that no one found. Nick Rimando managed to make two key saves within three seconds. John Wilson played acceptable on the wing, and Facundo Erpen showed a much better form than the last two weeks.

There were also problems. Santino Quaranta didn't keep posession well and Brandon Prideaux is still easily overmatched. Piotr Nowak had a curious substituting patten that I can't explain. If he was playing for the draw, he needed to put in defensive help (Boswell/Simms). If he was playing for the lead than Walker needed to be in the game sooner than the 82nd minute. I do not understand it. I am mystified. Please, someone explain.

One nice thing was that I did finally get to share a beer with Joe of We Call It Soccer. He's a decent fellow who knows his stuff. Also, the event that the SEs put on was very classy. And, if you had sharp eyes, you could see a preview of the new 2005 Blackout T-Shirts. They differ from my 2004 t-shirt in three key areas.
  1. They have long sleeves.
  2. They say "2005" instead of "2004"
  3. The do not have a mysterious bleach stain at the bottom. I think I got that scrubbing the tub.
Still, all-in-all, this team has not gotten better yet. And despite all the words about having moved on from the Freddy saga, I'm not sure they have. This could be an interesting week.