17 August 2006

Debriefing for Match 11.22: At New York Red Bulls


Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Sluggish on attack and lacking rhythm, United had to settle for a 0-0 tie against Bruce Arena and the New York Red Bulls..."
The Star-Ledger, Brent Johnson: "The Red Bulls played D.C. United (13-2-7) tight from the start, keeping the MLS leaders to just two shots on goal in the first half. United would manage just one more in the second half."
Herald News, Ives Galarcep: "Newly acquired Red Bulls midfielder Dema Kovalenko was solid in his MLS debut with the club...Kovalenko pestered D.C. United playmaker Christian Gomez all night, which limited the D.C. attack."
MLSNet, Dylan Butler: "As is often the case when the two rivals meet, there were more fouls than shots in a physical first half that saw three players (Carlos Mendes, Magee and Facundo Erpen) receive yellow cards. Perhaps the worst challenge, Guevara's tackle on Jaime Moreno from behind, wasn't even called by referee Mauricio Navarro."
NY/NJ Soccer, Jason Endres: "Arena felt the Red Bulls played a good match, but the crossing left a lot to be desired. 'I think the worst thing we did technically tonight was our inability to hit a good cross,' said Arena."
Mid-Atlantic Soccer Report, Ian Penderleith: "DC United and New York shared clean sheets and a point each in a game where both sides regretted missing a handful of chances, but were content enough not to have lost a generally mediocre match."
Quarter Volley: "That was unsatisfying"
DC Sun Devil: "Lets see...last night was the first time this season that United were held scoreless, will this Saturday be the first time this season United lose at home? Hopefully Nowak gives the guys a heartfelt, tender, kick in the ass over the next two days."
The Far Post: "The 2006 version of DC United played the 1997 version of DC United on what appeared to be a field of some sort in New Jersey... it was like playing your dad. I mean you can’t show him up! So, United (2006) did the polite thing and grinded out a draw."

The Good

  1. Shut 'em down, young man: DC United's defensive corps played their strongest defensive game to date. Perkins, Namoff, Boswell, and Erpen all had solid games. I can't even fault Erpen on the near own-goal, as it was a classic low-whipped cross that hit him while he was running towards his own net. It happens. But defensively, this team was facing a Red Bulls team where Djorkaeff and Guevara were suddenly playing with the skill that they were supposed to have, and the DC defense handled it well.
  2. Traveling Support: When, on the MSG broadcast, you can hear the DC United chants louder than anything else in the stadium... well, that's good stuff. Kinney, take a bow, won't you?

The Bad

  1. Complications: DC was, I think, too worried about New York. As a result, they were impatient to get the ball out of the defensive third, opting for 20-30 yard balls when perhaps a quicker pass on the ground would have been the better option. Naturally, this made it easier for the newly reinvigorated RBNY midfield (Damn... Dema Kovalenko is really helping that team) to step in front of passes and take possession away. DC needed to play the easier ball more often, and rely on short touches to take the field and hold possession.
  2. Offensive Sickness: Sometimes, you don't finish your chances. That's bad, but it is better than not creating chances. DC was pestered so much in the midfield that when they finally reached the attacking third, they seemed out of both energy and ideas. The four minutes of stoppage time looked better, but DC is consistently having problems getting the ball in the net recently. Perhaps they should call a doctor... (And the DCenters will make that call if they don't get more than one goal on Saturday. Oh yes.)

Man of the Match

Bobby Boswell had a fine game, but Man of the Match honors go to Troy Perkins. I know, there weren't many flashy saves, or critical stops of RBNY players, and his toughest stop was on Facundo Erpen, but this game was technically, I think, his finest to date. His positioning was excellent, his decision making crisp and correct. He came off his line at the right time, punched or caught in a manner appropriate to the situation, and looked every bit like an all-star keeper.

Final Thoughts

The easy storyline is that Bruce Arena got the New York Red Bulls to play better for this game and earn the draw. While I can concede that there is some truth to that, in that without Bruce I doubt that Amado Guevara and Youri Djorkaeff check back as hard as they do in that game, I think more credit belongs to Richie Williams and Dema Kovalenko. The Red Bulls' midfield was more organized and intense than I have ever seen them, and it looked to me that most of the credit for that has to go to Richie Williams. They played the way he did for DC: smart, pestering, and alive.

As for DC, again, I don't think the problem was effort. Instead, it was execution. Players made moves off the ball, but they didn't seem to by in sympatico with the players on the ball. Passes and touches were not as fine as I'd expect. Decisions seemed to be nervous ones, not the decisions of a team knowing they have an edge in talent.


At 17 August, 2006 12:22, Anonymous BDR said...

I think DCU midfield is exhausted. As you say, it's not the effort it's the execution. The half-second late passes with not enough crisp? That's tired legs.

At 17 August, 2006 14:08, Anonymous matt w said...

Tired legs makes sense to me. Olsen and Gomez especially look gassed. And they have three more matches in the next 10 days. I hate to say it, but a loss next Wednesday might not be the worst thing that could happen.

At 17 August, 2006 16:10, Anonymous Harvey said...

The reason for the scoring drought is really simple. We no longer try to get behind the defense like we were early in the season.

It could partially be because of tired legs, but I think its more serious than that. Look early in this game (as an example) and freddy and jaime tried a couple of times to make runs behind the defense, but was not rewarded with a pass. Then about midway thru the 1st half Gomez (i think) tried to play that pass, but there was no run. Later in the game their was neither run nor attempt at a pass.

This has been going on for quite a while now...

At 17 August, 2006 18:55, Blogger rwhgeek said...

I agree with Perkins being MOTM but I can't say much for his distribution lately. It seems like more times than not the ball is just booted down field to the opposing side. I of course did not keep track because the internet should not be crowded with actual facts when there is so much random speculation to go around.

At 18 August, 2006 00:11, Anonymous Matt said...

Perkins can kick every ball into the stands for all I care...he is TOTALLY saving our ass.

D..I thought the D was OK only.

Perkins saved two 1v1 from Djork, got all the crosses...came off his line really well when the Reds did get behind our D (which actually was WAY too much for my taste.

He made no mistakes...and several very good plays. If he's average we lose 3-0 and everyone is talking about how crappy the D was.

In defense of the D...it's hard to play good defense when the Mids are giving the ball away at every opportunity...and the forwards are winning much up top.

I WAS WRONG ABOUT PERKINS...he's developed really well...gets better every game.

At 18 August, 2006 14:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how long does Perkins stay in the U.S. if he keeps playing at this level? Is he a candidate for a jump to Europe?


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