21 February 2007

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

Match #: 12.A.01

Opponent: CD Olimpia (Honduras)

Six Word Novel Preview: Are we ready? We must be.

CONCACAF Champions Record: First Match of Quarterfinals
CD Olimpia - 1973, 1988 Champions
D.C. United - 1998 Champions

TV: Fox Soccer Channel, 9PM (MLS Underground with live feed)

Radio: Feed from DCUnited.COM

Previous Meeting: N/A.

The Stakes: For D.C. United, fair or unfair, this game will be the first evaluation of the Tom Soehn era, and will also be used as a referendum on the off-season maneuvers by the DC Front Office. Normally I would caution against reading too much into a game for which DC has had little time to prepare, but this is the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and the prestige of the competition matters. The key test is whether the starting XI put on the field tonight look like a team that can be competitive for the upcoming year. Yes, D.C. United continues to pursue acquisitions, but right now this is the team we have. And for the first time we'll be seeing if this is a team we can believe in.

For CD Olimpia, you have to imagine that they'll be up for this match. It would be one thing if it was just the presence of an American team, but this is an American team that took away their scoring champion. I have to believe that the strikers for Olimpia will be wanting to prove to their fans that they don't need Emilio Luciano any more, and will play hard and fast. You can hear a small allusion to this from DC Assistant Coach Chad Ashton in the most recent SE Podcast if you listen to him describing the Olimpia attack.

Previews from the DCUniverse: Washington Post, Washington Times, Soccer Insider, The Offside: DC United, An American's View..., Quarter Volley, Port Halifax Idea Gateway (other added as we see them)

Expectations: This game is unlikely to be a walk in the park for United. Yes, I know Climbing the Ladder pointed out that no MLS team has ever lost to a Honduran team. Well, no team ever beat D.C. United in the playoffs until the Chicago Fire did it. And then no team other than the Chicago Fire did it until New England did it last year. Someone ends up as the first. It could be us.

A lead coming back to RFK is great, and a non-scoreless draw would also be acceptable. Even a 2-1 deficit isn't the end of the world. All of those would be acceptable results to me, though I would certainly prefer a nice 2-0 cushion coming home. To me, the important thing is to see how well the defense plays. Scoring frequently requires timing and familiarity, and I can see where it might take a month or so to really expect that to develop, but a solid defensive effort from the back line and defensive mids is a systematic thing that shouldn't rely as heavily on individual performances. If the defense is shaky, I wouldn't be surprised if DC's 3-5-2 looked more like a 7-2-1 for most of the game. But if it can work possession away from Olimpia and move the ball down the pitch, that will bode well even if the goals don't come. That's how I will be looking at this game.

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At 21 February, 2007 10:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So no more live feed?

At 21 February, 2007 10:13, Blogger D said...

It looks like they decided to take it down. Ah well.

At 21 February, 2007 10:18, Anonymous bigkris said...

D, good summary. I actually expect that our defense will be quite solid - all of these guys are returning to familiar roles and familiar teammates, and all except Erpen have been in the US national team camp for the past month. Especially given Olympia's loss of their top scorer, I just don't see this team scoring against us in the run of play. Maybe they earn a PK call if we lose our composure.

Color me optimistic.

At 21 February, 2007 15:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think away goals matter (as a tiebreaker, at least) in the CCC.

- garbaggio

At 21 February, 2007 22:23, Blogger tucksider said...

i can't believe we're up 3-1.

anyone watching on TV, how do our boys look? is Olympia just crap, or are we pretty sharp?

At 22 February, 2007 00:14, Blogger D said...

We looked pretty good. Olimpia... not so much. Not awful, just very sloppy execution that I wouldn't expect from a team in mid-season form.


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