15 June 2006

The Hurts that Hurt


I think, even after the LA game, that it is fair to say that DC has a pretty good team and a decent bench. The question is: "What is DC Missing right now that can put it over the top?" To my surprise, the answer is offense. Yes, DC has the most goals scored of anyone in the league right now (25), but break those goals down, and there's an interesting factoid. Thanks to the MLSNet stats page, you can see that 10 of DC's 25 goals (40%) come in the first 30 minutes of play (or 33% of the time). DC also has 6 goals in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. When the legs are freshest among the starting XI, DC does well.

However, look at the last fifteen minutes of play. DC only has 3 goals between the 75th minute and full time, a mark that only beats the Crew and Rapids. Why? Part of this can be explained by the fact that since DC has the lead frequently, they don't need to press for another goal (the way RSL would.) Given that they have only given up three goals in this time as well, a mark second only to Houston, this seems to indicate a team that is comfortable sitting on their lead.

However, I can't help feel that part of this is due to two other factors. First, Freddy Adu has been tremendously unlucky in the final fifteen minutes, and if the goals are two inches bigger (let alone Alexi's six feet) then the number changes. But the other factor is a substitution one. Lucio Filomeno doesn't bring anything new when he takes the field for Eskandarian or Moreno. He may have fresh legs, but he's not appreciably faster or better given the fatigue to those that he replaces. Dominic Mediate is certainly a defensive substitution in nature, not attacking. Quite simply, DC doesn't have a decent, speedy threat off the bench to take advantage of fatigued defenses. At least, not right now.

Ultimately, there are two options for DC. Jamil Walker is the most probably one, and he has excelled in the past year as a dangerous counter-attacking option. He makes great sense in close games late since it forces opposing teams, pressing for an equalizer, to back off a bit knowing they may have to counter Jamil, or they risk getting burned with a goal to put it out of reach. He's listed as probable, but he's been listed as probable for a few weeks now. Once he's off the injury report, that'll make life easier. Another loss is Santino Quaranta, who provided a forward/midfield option in addition to Mediate (we can't really talk about Moose right now, given that we haven't seen him and that he's hurt). Tino likewise is an attacking threat, though certainly one that doesn't seem as potent as Walker at the moment. However, with both out, we've lost two perfect late game weapons that could have been used to change the pace of close games. Either would have been useful in LA last Sunday. Let's hope we get them back soon. And then this would have the requisite role players to be truly scary.


At 15 June, 2006 22:49, Anonymous bdr said...

What about Gomez running out of gas, dependably, at 60-65 minutes?

I'm very happy to have Gomez, don't get me wrong, but he's cooked early and often. Remember when he scored that third goal v Ningland in east finals, he was going to subbed out at the next ball stoppage.

So if he's subbed at 70, that moves Adu to middle (and I agree with your comments on Adu), but then the minutes up to 80 are spent working the new formation/combinations. Like I say, I love Gomez, but he's one of the least fit players I've seen.

And if the offense runs through him, and he's cooked....


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