16 October 2006

Debriefing for Match 11.32: Chicago Fire


Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "United has won just one of its last six home matches and, in the past nine days at RFK, suffered glaring defensive breakdowns en route to losses to potential Eastern Conference title-game opponents."
The Washington Times, John Haydon: "'The soccer gods maybe are not on our side right now,' Nowak said. "
Chicago Tribune, Luis Arroyave: "Any fear of the Fire entering the postseason with a three-game losing streak was put to rest Sunday with a 3-2 win at D.C. United to close the regular season."
Mid-Atlantic Soccer Report, Ian Penderleith: "In between breaking down DC's game, Chicago also played some decent soccer, and Matt Pickens had a solid game in goal, particularly in the second half when United looked like they might actually want to take part in a competitive contest. "
An American's View..., Brian Garrison: "If this were a true pre-season match, I wouldn't be too worried about our form for the coming season."
BlackDogRed: "I don't for a second buy the game-didn't-mean anything argument. United played to win, Chicago played to win: Chicago won...I'm finding myself already thinking about what needs to be done to be better next year."

The Good

  1. Christan Gomez, MLS MVP: He deserves it. The brace against Chicago was nice to see, and he's playing quite well.
  2. The Vision of Freddy Adu: Honestly, he's seeing the field very well now. In addition to the two assists, there were multiple passes that were barely interrupted by Chicago players. Those passes saw Freddy picking out a player making a clever run some twenty yards away, and his decisions were quick and correct. Very nice.
  3. Chance and Chance: DC was taking shots at the net! Hooray! Ah, that was nice to see.

The Bad

  1. Moving Forward from the Back: You probably heard Wynalda note that DC was having difficulty moving out of the defensive third. It should be noted that this is not a new problem, it's one that DC has had all year (see "The Bad: Casual Day"). It's just now teams are in form and exploiting the situation. I don't expect this to become easier at this point.
  2. Organization: The backline was disorganized. How much can be attributed to having not played together in several games, or to Nick Rimando's orders, is debatable. That being said, it is not only Rimando's responsibility to organize the field, but in a three man line some of the responsibility belongs to Boswell. I didn't see a great deal of him playing an active role in setting up the marking, and that's an area he can, and should, improve upon.
  3. Depression: DC can not afford to become despondant entering the playoffs, and listening to the post-game interviews over at the SE Podcase, I'm getting a bit concerned that the losses are starting to overwhelm DC's psyche. If you expect to lose, you may well not be disappointed.

Man of the Match

I'm going to award a special MotM to Christain Gomez, despite the loss. He earned it.

Final Thoughts

This game didn't have to mean anything, but it did. By playing most of the starters, including Moreno for the full 90, Nowak set out to send a message that a win would set things right with the team. If he had rested the starters, then no one could read anything from this game, but instead he gambled for a potential morale boost. That gamble failed. It wasn't the choice I would have made, or that I was advocating for, but I'm not the coach.

However, if there is one thing I take from this, it is a simple fact: Nowak (and the team as a whole, to the extent it takes some personality from the coach) hates the idea of losing. That's a good thing almost always, but here I'm afraid it may have been a mistake. I would have deemphasized this game heading into the playoffs, then used the opening round as the full and entire judgement as to United's current form. You can build momentum in the playoffs, and I'm a bit worried that the potential for creating a run of good form will be diluted even if DC does take a victory over the Red Bulls out of the first round. Of course, that presupposes a win, which is not certain by any means.

Well, let's get ready for playoff week. It should be [nail-baiting] fun.


At 16 October, 2006 12:34, Anonymous bdr said...

Good call on Adu, although it was his poor defense that led to his bad tackle in the box that gave Chigago the PK.

Boswell ran out of gas in August in 2005 and his game fell off dramatically. He's stronger this year, but I'm starting to see some of the bad habits he developed in 2005 now. That hip-check rather than tackle when opponents are running at him, for instance.

At 17 October, 2006 17:12, Blogger DCNats said...

there was only one possible way that this game could have gotten me down, and that's if we actually played our starters the whole game and then lost... well, I'm feeling pretty down.


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