12 March 2007

Keeping Tabs Abroad

Two items to begin with. First, watching Chivas in preparation for Thursday. Second, thoughts on Alecko Eskandarian.

CHIVAS BRIEFING: If you're like me, which is to say, if you're obsessed with the local soccer club, then you do things like watch Univision on Sunday to check out the Chivas - Pumas UNAM match. I see that some people on BigSoccer did the same, so I find it interesting that they have a completely different viewpoint than I do. So read their thoughts, but here are my impressions.

Chivas is a much better team than Olimpia. I know that should be obvious, but it is a point which emotionally I think many of us, including perhaps me, are inclined to ignore. We shouldn't. They are fluid team that possesses speed, tactical savvy, and determination. That being said, they are beatable.

Watching them play Pumas, I was struck that they were able to attack the Pumas back line in two different ways. They could run the ball through the center circle and then kick it out to the wing for the cross. They could play the ball in early from the wing through the air and find attackers who could beat their marker one-on-one. Both methods created clear chances for Chivas, and Pumas was saved only a lack of finishing. Twice, attackers were in alone on the Pumas keeper. Twice the save was made when the low show was contained by an outstretched leg. The fact is, Troy Perkins (or Jay Nolly) will almost certainly have to deal with similar situations in the next two games, so studying the positioning of the Pumas keeper and the way he got down to stop those shots is informative. It is also interesting that the one time Chivas took a high shot one on one with the keeper it started a sequence that put the ball in the net, only for it to come back for the offisde call.

Similarly, at the end of the first half Chivas had two free headers on crosses in from the wing. The first was over the crossbar, the second bounced off of it. It will benefit DC if we can get some similar good fortunate.

Chivas pressures well, at the top, through the midfield, and down to the backs. That being said, the backs are prone to ridiculous giveaways, with each by my reckoning making an Erpen-esque giveaway to manufacture a chance for Pumas. Their clearance and distribution out of the back is somewhat suspect, and I would think DC could create a chance to two here that they will need to finish. That being saids, their backs when pushed play well in a compact form, making a defense difficult to break down. Pumas' best chances in the second half came from shots outside the box (one of which clattered off a post.) DC may have to take some long-shots as well (Long as in 16-24 meters out, not 40). I don't think we'll be able to dribble it in.

In all, Chivas was impressive in their road match, especially during the 60th to 70th minutes where they strung together a beautiful set of passes and the touches for UNAM were limited to clearances back to the Chivas midfield. They're a good team. But not so good that I walked away thinking it would take a miracle.

ALECKO IN TORONTO:Bill Urban gets a few quotes from Alecko Eskandarian. Key graf:

"It is actually a little bit surreal," he said. "I became a family with everyone at D.C. United, so it's definitely a change, but it's part of life, and I think it will probably be beneficial in the end."
I still root for him. Good luck up there, Alecko. Stay healthy.

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At 12 March, 2007 12:19, Anonymous Bill Urban said...


Should have heard him laugh when I asked him (in what it must be noted was extremely tongue-in-cheek fashion)if he was going to spit Sierra Mist on the RFK turf.

His response in full, after much merriment: "No, no, no, like I said, no enemies at DC United, left on good terms, keep in touch with Peter and even Tommy texted me the other day, I get along with everyone, the fans there especially have a huge place in my heart and I would never do anything to disrespect them..."

At 12 March, 2007 13:10, Blogger D said...

Thanks Bill. It makes me happy to think he's in good spirits, and that he harbors no ill feelings after what I recall might have been an awkward transition.


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