31 July 2006

Debriefing for Match 11.21: At Real Salt Lake


Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Nate Carlisle: "Salt Lake pushed forward more on offense in the second half and finished with an 8-5 advantage in shots on goal. Meanwhile, United penetrated less on offense and had only one shot on goal in the second half."
MLSNet, Peter Richins: "...That set the stage for the late heroics, and in the end, Real had not only goals at home to celebrate, but a whole lot more."
Salt Lake Tribune, Chhun Sun: "...the end result was this: Real Salt Lake, considered the worst team in Major League Soccer, did the impossible, stunning the league-leading D.C. United in a 2-1 victory before 20,027 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "
Matchnight, Scott Stucki: "The finish of the game was poetic justice after the last two home games when RSL gave up stoppage time goals."
BlackDogRed: " I ask myself to view PKs two ways: what would I think if I could make myself a interested neutral; what would I think if the same call benefited DCU. And in both cases, I just can't summon outrage. "
QuarterVolley: "John Wilson is dead to me."
DC Sun Devil: "I have been bringing this up for some time, that United say that they are focused, that the events of last season were and are still fresh in their minds...They say all that, then when you watch them on the field, their play does not reflect that verbal commitments that they put in the paper. They look lethargic and slow. "
Real Salt Lake Blog: "It was a KWALITEE night all around. And nobody got sent back to hospital."
Are You Loyal?: See Matchnight Above. Note to self: See if Jimmy LaRoue wants to join a blog. Second note to self: Nah, probably not. Third note to self: Make sure to delete previous note to selves from blog entry. Fourth note to self: Do we have any Mac and Cheese in the pantry? I could go for some Mac and Cheese.

The Good

  1. Midfield Dominance: For the first 60 minutes, United dominated play, especially in the midfield. RSL was looking better at their back line, and up top they were occasionally dangerous, but they had little success moving the ball through the middle third. However, DC was flustered by the long ball attack (despite the fact that most teams try this tactic at some point) and decided to move from the 3-5-2 to the 4-4-2. As a result, suddenly RSL was not only able to move the ball into DC's defensive third, but keep it there and switch around through the middle.
  2. Christian Gomez: Gomez had a fairly good game. RSL wasn't trying to shut him down nearly the way Chicago did, but even when players did try to collapse on him he was making nice touches to find space. I think that matters. Good stuff there.

The Bad

  1. John Wilson, Reckless: I said on the first impression that John Wilson should not be blamed for this loss entirely. I still mean that, but any discussion of the difficulty looking at this game has to start here. Wilson gave reason for both penalties to be called, and at a key point in the game. While the second foul was less legitimate than the first, it was paradoxically the more stupid play. The first penalty could have resulted from Ballouchy tripping over any number of legs, it just happened to be Wilson's. The second was an insanely stupid challenge.
  2. How do you train in practics for bad referees?: Answer: You don't. I understand that Piotr and Wilson are upset, but blaming the refs for this loss misses the fact that RSL was playing decent soccer against us. To hear Piotr Nowak say "If you're going to beat us, beat us in a fair way...Especially the two PKs -- this isn't supposed to happen in our league. Maybe this is the way the league works," is unsettling. Piotr, the PKs were legitimate, and RSL was looking dangerous anyways.
  3. Pointless Posession: Posession is a good thing. And DC was excelling at finding ways of stringing long passes together. The problem was that these passes, especially in the second half, had little purpose to them. In the 70th minute, I seem to recall a bit of posessions where DC had about 15 consecutive touches on the ball, starting in the RSL offensive third. Sadly, the last three were back passes, culminating in Perkins booting the ball seventy yards and over to the home side.

Man of the Match

You can't be serious.

Moreno vs. Kreis

A lone bright spot, as Jamie nets one and Jason get none. Kreis 106; Moreno 104.

Final Thoughts

It probably won't surprise you to learn that while a game is going on, I am mentally composing blog post material in my head. So you'll have to take my word on this, but the phrase "RSL in this loss draw looks more dangerous than I recally seeing them in any other game" was in my notes. And it was true: RSL played well.

Naturally, the flip side of this is that DC played horribly. I don't think it's true. Soccer is not a zero-sum game, when one team plays well only at the expense of another. Sometimes you see two poor teams out on the pitch, sometimes you see two teams in very good form both doing great things out there. Saturday night we saw a team executing a game plan decently (Real Salt Lake) and another team playing average MLS soccer, but not horribly bad. Were they a step slow? Yes. But they weren't as sluggish as I recall from other games (including a few wins).

My largest complaint wasn't with technical execution, but in terms of tactics. DC seemed to be taken aback by the long balls, despite the fact that RSL couldn't execute a cross from the wings. The long balls down the middle were being handled, the ones on the flanks ultimately seemed to be less dangerous than they appeared. However, it was enough for DC to make the formation change, and suddenly RSL found movement in the midfield much easier. The Wilson for Adu sub would have hurt not just for the PKs, but simply because we no longer had numbers to continue a fairly strong presence we had most of the game.

All that said, this is not the end of the world. It is a loss after a tie, and now we're in the all-star break. DC can either let these last two results fester and get under their skin, in which case we may see a string of poor performances when they get back. Or DC can use this for amnesia, and focus only on finishing out the season. I hope it is the latter. Blank the slate, and finish it out.


At 31 July, 2006 12:17, Anonymous Jason S said...

There's one other choice, let it fester just enough to make us all angry. Then use it as a weapon to go on another run into the post season.

At 01 August, 2006 10:36, Blogger Kali said...

shhhh... don't tell anyone that we were too busy drinking to really pay attention to the game, haha


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