22 February 2007

Debriefieng for Match 12.A.01: At CD Olimpia


Six Word Novel Recap

Gomez: Definitely Awake, Alive, and Kicking.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Concerns about D.C. United's preparedness for its CONCACAF Champions' Cup quarterfinal opener in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, last night were put to rest with several spectacular goals during a surprising 4-1 victory over Olimpia."
MLSNet, Jonathan Nierman: "As was so often the case during the 2006 MLS season, Gomez was the catalyst, urging the Black-and-Red forward with smart passes, darting runs and, of course, killer finishing."
MLSNet, Edwin Cerrato: "Just before the end of the half, Emilio silenced the Estadio Nacional crowd. Josh Gros chased down a pass in the left corner and drove a low cross into the heart of the area where Emilio ran onto it before flicking past James with a sublime backheel off the inside of his left boot. After a minute of funereal silence and the attitude of Emilio - who did not celebrate effusively - the crowd applauded its former star."
An American's View..., Brian Garrison: "The score line is really very misleading. The four goals are more of a reflection of how bad Olimpia were last night, rather than how good United was."
Quarter Volley, I-66: "As a whole, United looked to have their stuff together. They didn't appear to be a team essentially in their preseason, though there were some stretches where I felt they were in trouble while lacking in possession and the ability to clear the ball from their box."
MLS Underground: "This might go down as the greatest performance by a MLS team in Central America in the league's 11 history."

The Good

  1. Yeah, see, we're up three goals at RFK: We should just acknowledge that 4-1 is a stunning result, and that it is the single most important fact to come out of this game. Everything looks good after 4-1. Or it would if I weren't such a curmudgeonly bastard.
  2. Moving the ball on the ground: DC was able to execute small, simply passes, and send the occasional through ball to put Olimpia under pressure. They did this for much of the first twenty minutes of the game, in which I expected DC to be pinned on their side of the pitch. It didn't happen, because they were able to start to build simply possession.
  3. Emilio's Goal: With the cross slightly behind him, he played almost a back-heel flick into the goal. Honestly, if I had any doubts that he was a goal scorer, that audacious move silenced them, since that was the move only a goal scorer will think of.
  4. Defensive Shape: In the run of play, the backs plus Simms and Carroll were decent. They can even get better.
  5. Stamina: Kinney noted that this team didn't tire as readily as we thought they might. He's right. They had a lot of breath for a pre-season match.
  6. Justin Moose: Showed more in ten minutes yesterday than his entire season in the reserves. We always knew he was fast, but the crazy pull-back ball control thing? That's new...
  7. Officiating: A well officiated game, and a reminder that some referees, regardless of geography, will enforce the laws of the game. A special call-out to the Honduran AR Crew, who were rigid and impartial putting the flags up. Compared to other games played yesterday, the contrast in quality was amazing. Also, he called back-to-back illegal throw-ins. I don't think I've ever seen that, but it worked and told me that this was someone who just enforced the laws.

The Bad

  1. Mental Acuity: If there was an overall disappointment, it was that this team didn't quite look as mentally smart as I would have liked. There were too many passes reflecting a dubious decision making process. They could have played simpler. The pitch was partially to blame, as the grass seemed to jump up and interfere with the feet for attempts to send the ball long and through the air. Still, the decision making was suspect from all players, although Erpen and Simms I think were (unfairly, since they were just as much to blame as anyone) singled out for it.
  2. Wing Speed: About two weeks ago I wrote: "Olsen's speed outside particularly worries me, since a nimble opposing flank player may be able to play around him and force Ben to take an early caution." This happened last night, and could well happen all year. Ben's a tenacious, gritty player, who grew the beard back. If he's put in that position, he's going to get cards because there's no way he's giving up on his marking responsibilities, Laws or no Laws. I hate seeing him put into that situation.
  3. CD Olimpia: They can back-to-back aerial back-heel passes, but seemed to find difficult with short and mid range passes. Not to mention some blown finishes, out-of-position keepers (especially on the second for Gomez), and one chance to go in on Perkins alone that was senselessly squandered. They underwhelmed.
  4. Set Piece Transition: There's a few moments after you've defended a set piece and you're trying to adjust your shape into your traditional defense. It can be something of a physically demanding and mentally demanding moment, as you have to figure out where you should be and get there promptly. It was in one such post-set piece transition when Olimpia scored.

Man of the Match

Tips of the cap to Emilio, Namoff, Carroll, and Perkins, but your Man of the Match is Christian Gomez. In fact, that's too long of a title. He's just "The Man."

Final Thoughts

Read people's reactions to the first impressions last night: There's some good analysis in there.

I agree with many of those who write that 4-1 is misleading because it makes DC look better than they are. But still, DC looked about as good as I've seen them at this point in the preseason. They certainly looked better in terms of creativity than I remember from the C.F. Getafe match at around this time last year, especially through the first 45 minutes (remember, that game was pretty much even until the second half).

Ultimately, this game was Hopeful, after a 2006 season that ended in irony and frustration. It didn't put to rest my concerns about this team, but it did show me that while I notice the areas of concern, there is still a lot that is right with United. It's a lesson I will heed. Now go out and get those defenders and wing players.

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At 22 February, 2007 11:06, Anonymous bdr said...

I agree with you completely on Benny and add this: he's the best option for getting the ball from the back to Gomez through the middle.

He's better in the middle than on the wing, and so is United.

At 22 February, 2007 14:35, Anonymous Matt said...

Brian Garrison is an idiot...he should change his blog to an Anti-American's View.

Olimpia wasn't sharp...and DC is in PRESEASON....

To discount what DC did is pure ignorance. Those four goals weren't own goals...

One reason that Gomez shone is that Olimpia seemed to be way more worried about Emilio...guess they didn't do their homework.

This bodes well for the MLS. Let's be honest, Alecko is a nice player..and all the opponent needed to do was take away his left.

Moreno isn't going to run by anyone..and teams know that to stop him they just need to stay in front of him and not dive in.

So...Moreno's best quality is his passing, since teams will give him some space, not wanting to get diced.

Emilio is WAY more dangerous..I like his complete game. He's fast, holds the ball well, comes back for the ball and battles well defensively.

Hence...he makes Moreno much more dangerous since there are now two very dangerous outlets for Moreno's pinpoint passes.

I'd love to see Jaime shoot more though...

At 22 February, 2007 14:50, Blogger D said...

Matt: I think you're overly harsh on Brian Garrison. Part of that may be my fault, since I selected that quote from his otherwise positive review as a way of trying to create a found story using the quotes I had.

I agree: The most important thing out of this match was the result, and the fact that DC looked better than pretty much anyone, or at least I, expected.

Jamie did play around in the box in the 6th minute or so, but to be fair, there were reasons for him to do that. He didn't have the best shot available, and others crashing the box did, so he tried to playmake. Which he usually does very, very well.

But yes, Emilio is definitely looking to be an improvement from Alecko. And I hate myself for saying that since I loved Alecko, but it is the truth. And that says a lot about Emilio.

At 22 February, 2007 15:24, Blogger Brian said...

Gee, can't you feel th elove in the air?

I know that DC is in preseason, which if you checked my blog, I said. I am one of those people who look at things realistically. We won last night, a 4-1 game, not because we were great or something, but because we were playing a poor team.

Once DC United gets more training in, and more matches under their belts, they, based on what i saw glimpses of last night, should do very well in the league this season. However, Matt, if you think that for one second that DC United will be able to play the same way against Chivas (the real Chivas) as they did last night, and come away with anything different than the PUMAS type of result...you sir need to re-examine your position.

Please, feel free to see what I have written.


At 22 February, 2007 16:46, Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

I'm a Johnny-come-super-lately to this party, but I posted some warm thoughts on last night's game.

Nice work by your guys, by the way. And to weigh in on the mini-controversy, I thought Brian's comments fell under the tough-but-fair column. I suspect he thinks about DCU the way I think about the Revs.

At 22 February, 2007 18:50, Anonymous Matt said...

Brian...you mean the same Chivas that lost to W-Connection?

Actually, the Chivas-DC matchup will be very interesting. Both sides play some of the best attacking futbol in their respective leagues.

Course..if Chivas take the same attitude that the Mexican national team does...they'll play their reserve team and expect to win 5-0 cause they don't respect the MLS.

Pumas game was a joke...nowak didn't even put out a real lineup so everyone that keeps bringing that result up isn't stuck in reality.

hey...it's all good. I'm sure all of us are rooting for DC and Houston to make the league look good.

At 22 February, 2007 19:13, Anonymous Matt said...

Next time I will read the full article before reacting...no Brian isn't an idiot. Sorry...

Reducing the DC win to "the other team sucked" was a gross oversimplification....

Olimpia paid way too much attention to Emilio...thus opening miles of space for the other players....and Gomez made them pay.

Emilio played really well...but honestly, they marked him pretty tight even on the goal.

DC overcame a lot to put on a good and yes..uneven performance.

Olimpia is in shambles though..their coach quit (good heads up Brian) and trashed his players every which way in the article.

Can't say that I disagreed with any of it.

The coach basically said that his players play without passion, are on a totally different page than him tactically and it is useless for him to continue because the players don't get what he wants..or seem to care.

He did however...give credit to DC and compliment them on their quality.


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