27 March 2006

Shed a Tear in your Pot of Beer

Charleston Battery 1 : 1 DC United

Thanks to the wonderful folks in Charleston, I was able to catch the streaming video broadcast of this game. Kudos to all involved with that, as it presented the first time I've been able to see the team since the Getafe game.

For the entire tournament, United has played in a 4-4-2. More thoughts on this later, but the Charleston game was a nice study in how it can work for DC, and also some of its potential vulnerabilities. For the first 40 minutes, United dominated possession and the chances, such as they were. The ball's movement demonstrated some nice passing, and created some space in the attacking third. Adu and Gomez played well together, Clyde Simms had a fairly strong game, and the defense supported the attack nicely. However, much as was the case in the 3-5-2, United could still be vulnerable to long balls played to an speedy opposing striker. Boswell's professional foul yellow was the result of such a play, and these thrusts by Charleston allowed for a much more even game, with Charleston placing some sustained pressure on DC in the final 45 minutes.

Work in the final third is still a bit spotty, and the goal was not a result of strong possession play but instead from a brilliant Moreno run resulting in his takedown in the box. Moreno than converted the PK with a ridiculous shot from the spot that resembled Phil Mickelson trying to chip out of the sand at Augusta.

The second half also featured the preseason parade of Substitutions, with Moose, Nickel, Eskandarian, Walker, Jeff Carroll, and Rod Dyachenko among those seeing minutes. Of all of those featured, Eskandarian seems to regaining some of his form, as he had some nice moments on the ball.

The back line is a cause of some concern. The starting 4 of Gros - Boswell - Erpen - Prideaux don't quite seem to have figured out the way to make the marking scheme work yet. Many of the DC fans at Big Soccer were praising Erpen's performance, and I agree that his speed and skill were fortunately present in order to shut down some Charleston attackers. However, I got the sense that he wasn't quite picking up his marking assignments when people made runs into his zone, giving them a bit too much room to operate when the ball arrived or was played into space. Boswell also looked steady, but slow to me. I'll have more thoughts on the new 4-4-2 backline later today, or perhaps later this week.

Regardless, United's tie gives them a 1-0-2 (5pts) final record in the Carolina Challenge, good enough for second place behind Houston Dynamo's 2-0-1. Red Bull New York finished dead last behind Charleston. I'd take some comfort in that if it didn't feel like they're being pushed closer to Michael Douglas in Falling Down.


At 27 March, 2006 11:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recap. I was there, but the only clear memory I have is of yelling at Tony during the scum game...

At 27 March, 2006 12:46, Anonymous Matt said...

D..just curious if it looks like Nowak has settled on a starting lineup yet?

Was the lineup vs. Charelston looking like the normal 11?

At 27 March, 2006 14:19, Blogger D said...

Matt: Great question, one I intend to get to. To answer your question, I think he's mostly settled on a final line-up, but it wasn't the one in Charleston (what with Ben not being available).


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