23 October 2006

Debriefing for Match 11.33.1: At New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls 0 : 1 DC United


(DC leads 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg.)

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steven Goff: "Red Bulls Coach Bruce Arena had talked all week about the importance of disrupting United's Latin connection, but as the match wandered toward a scoreless tie, Gomez and Moreno broke down his club's resistance."
The New York Times, John Eligon: "On paper, Saturday’s game was even. United had 14 shots (five on goal) to the Red Bulls’ 13 (three on goal). United’s Perkins had four saves, the Red Bulls’ Conway had three. But one statistic suggested that United was the aggressor. It was called for offside eight times, while the Red Bulls had no offside calls against them."
The Star-Ledger, Frank Giase: "The result leaves the Red Bulls with the difficult task of coming from behind in the total-goals series next Sunday in Washington, where they are 0-2-1 this year -- including a 3-1 loss in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals -- and 0-3 in playoff games in their history. "
NY/NJ Soccer, Yari Trejos: "'I think you have to give Gomez and Moreno a lot of credit on the play. I think they are the only two players in the league that can pull that off,' said Arena.
Pull it off they did and with that combination, the game was decided. "
MLSNet, Dylan Butler: "The Red Bulls' best chances came from combination work between Todd Dunivant and Dema Kovalenko on the left side. Kovalenko's quick restart found Dunivant, who crossed to Markus Schopp at the far post. But Schopp's header -- when he was completely unmarked and with the entire goal at his mercy -- went high and wide of the net in the 21st minute." (Also read Mr. Butler's piece on fans at RFK North here.)
An American's View, Brian Garrison: "I saw the original line-up go out there and play as they did in April, May and June. I saw United get the scrappy, 1-0 victory that they used all through the 14 game unbeaten streak to collect points as they marched up the MLS ladder. "
The Far Post: "Christian Gomez probably won’t be named league MVP, because people will say he has too much help from United’s talented squad. But, he is the most technical player in the league. The other two MVP candidates would have missed that goal. Cunningham wouldn’t have made the pass to Jaime and De Rosario would have launched it over the cross bar."


The Good


  1. Aim and Fire: Here's the thing. Everyone who saw the game must admire the way Christian Gomez touched that ball over Conway into the net. Everyone admires Moreno's sneaky through ball. However, here's a thought experiment... Without Olsen, Eskandarian, and Adu taking some shots from distance, is there enough space behind that line for Gomez to go through alone? I don't know, but I wonder. DC's willingness to put the ball on net from the top of the box made the Red Bull defenders play a relatively higher line than they might otherwise have been in. Bruce Arena can talk about Gomez and Moreno all he wants, and certainly they deserve a ton of credit, but what made me happy was the commitment DC showed all game to getting a ball in the net as a resulpossessionsession, not content to try and manufacture the perfect chance. This isn't conclusive proof, but it does lead credence to the "Esky is valuable even if he doesn't find the net" theory.
  2. Troy Perkins is the 2006 MLS Keeper of the Year: Honestly, a phenomenal game from Troy. At first, he was great just for controlling his box, and doing what he's done all year. Then a great save at the death to preserve the win. Troy is a worth recipient, and proved it in this game. It's nice to see that award become something other than a fruitcake mailed back and forth between Onstad and Canon.
  3. Play to Win: I'm a bit surprised by some of the negative reactions to this game in the comments. When this game was still tied in the 70th minute, I asked myself if I was happy with the effort. After all, the first leg of last year's Fire match was very disappointing, despite being a draw. The difference was that through 70 minutes, I honestly felt like Piotr wasn't trying to play for the draw from the tenth minute onward. We seemed to be creating chances, putting together attacks, making things happen. I have no problem trying to preserve a draw (or a win) with ten minutes left in a match, but it is a problem when you enter that mindset right after the half. This was much better. Not perfect, but clearly a team performing with a better attitude than I remember.

The Bad

  1. Clearence Sale: Yes, DC's backline was better organized, but while that was better, they also had difficulty clearing the ball. I'm not talking about trying to pass out of the back to create a fpossessionsession, I'm referring just to clearing the ball to relieve pressure. DC was not particularly adept at it, repeatedly sending balls that were easily retrieved by RBNY attackers.
  2. Outworked on the Wing: It wasn't just Adu that got beat defensively, but also Josh Gros, who I think had one of his worst games to date. It surprised me, but perhaps it can be attributed to his suspension problems.

Man of the Match

You're thinking Christian Gomez. I'm thinking Troy Perkins. And then, well, I'm thinking that no MotM should be awarded until after the second leg. Which is the position I'm taking now... this isn't over yet.

Final Thoughts

Again, I think I view this game much more positively than the first round of commenters from Saturday. DCU seemed to be doing things differently, and better, than the last five games of the season. It wasn't perfect, but I would have been worried if it was. That there is still room to improve is a good thing in this case, since it shows progress but doesn't invite complacency.

There's also a strange feeling having won the Supporter's Shield... That shockingly, these games don't matter except to the fact that it is a step towards MLS Cup '06. I'm not taking much joy in just winning a playoff game. I wouldn't even be thrilled to win this series. It would be nice, but the fact is that playoff wins have no validation for this season right now. If we had finished second in the conference, perhaps this would mean more as a way of saying "Yes, and we even made progress in the post season." Yet right now, the only victory that can enhance the season takes place in Dallas. That's why you're not hearing any trash talking out of me about these games. Because right now they feel necessary, part of a mission, but not an end to themselves. If we lose a game now, it doesn't change how I feel about the season. Yet the reverse is true: Even winning these games doesn't change how I feel about the season. Maybe that changes after next week, but in a strange way I think it may have taken the pressure of DC United. They are a success already. Which means, strangely, that the top seed is playing with, as the cliche goes, house money. I need to think about that more, but it is a strange situation. Normally the top team is viewed as having all of the pressure on them, but that's not necessarily the case here. Hm. Let me think about it.

6 Comments:

At 23 October, 2006 11:45, Anonymous john said...

I thought they played better than they have been, but I think the question to ask is: Did you see anything that made you think they can beat NE/CHI?

I was a member of the 'chicken little' thread on BS, I didn't think they would make it past the EC finals. I still don't, based on what I saw Sat.

 
At 23 October, 2006 11:54, Anonymous Joanna said...

Perkins is our king
Perkins is our king
He didn't let the Quaffle in...

:-)

I too have been surprised by the negativity - I thought our defense was a lot more solid. Of course, I also watched NE and Chicago play and the fact that they were at each other's throats from the starting whistle gives me pause. We have to quit with the "ow, ref, he touched me!" crap. I would say that someone stepping on CJ Brown and spraining HIS ankle would be a start, but that would be unbecoming, so of course I would never say anything like that out loud.

 
At 23 October, 2006 11:58, Anonymous bdr said...

At the halfway mark, I think Olsen in the lead for motm. It was his dig that got the ball to the Gomez-Moreno-Gomez goal, and he seemed the only one initially to understand the urgency needed in a playoff game. And I loved his jumping in Guevara's face after Guevara hacked Moreno.

 
At 23 October, 2006 13:05, Blogger Caps Nut said...

Check out page E5 of the (Com)Post sports section today.

Great job by the DCU marketing staff....

 
At 23 October, 2006 16:39, Anonymous Nick said...

I agree with the blog that the effort was good, and the attitude an willingness to work was there, and that is positive...which makes it almost even more dissapointing to see us play so bad. Don't get me wrong, as a fan i'd rather see effort than apathy, but if this team really wants to take it to the next level (thinking international competition next year), we can't put in that kind of performance against a lousy team in a playoff game on a day when the players worked hard and played with energy. Saturday's performance is the type of performance that leads to 5-0 beat downs in Mexico, and i don't think my pride in this team could take another one of those...and this poor play doesn't make me feel any better. There are plenty of excuses: midday game, turf field, lousy opponent, etc...but I feel like this team should (with the talent it has) be above all that by now. I don't want DC to just be a great MLS team, I want us to be one of the top teams in the Americas...Let's hope for a showing more worthy of that at RFK on Sunday.

 
At 23 October, 2006 21:15, Anonymous Matt said...

What Nick said...Ditto.

Guys...we beat the Red Bulls..THE RED BULLS...1-0 and didn't look sharp.

Yes, the energy was there which was a huge improvement from the end of the regular season.

Our passing was incredibly sloppy, we gave the ball away a ton in our own half...something that an opponent worth a crap makes you pay for....

D...yes we are playing with the house's money...and shouldn't we be just as eager to steal more?

The season is a success..and if we win the MLS cup...it will be a HUGE success.

Let's not get complacent and go for it all....

 

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